Most healthy laying hens will lay approximately one egg every 24 hours. While it is normal enough for a hen to go one day without laying an egg, you should be concerned if a hen who is normally a consistent egg layer stops laying. Eggs can become stuck inside your hen's body and cause serious health problems.
Eggs are produced when the yolk is released by the hen's ovary into the oviduct. The egg develops as it passes through the oviduct, which is more than two feet long. Egg-binding is the term used to describe what happens when an egg becomes stuck somewhere inside the oviduct and the hen is unable to lay the egg. When this happens, the oviduct becomes blocked and the hen is said to be egg-bound.
Physical Signs and Symptoms
The most obvious sign that a hen is egg-bound is her failure to lay any eggs. A hen who is struggling to lay an egg may be sitting in a nesting box or repeatedly coming and going from the nesting box but not producing anything. Your hen's tail may be lifted and she may appear to be struggling to lay the egg. An egg bound hen may appear to walk more upright than a normal hen. Her abdomen may appear to swollen. If you feel the hen's bottom, you may be able to feel a lump near her vent. The lump is the egg, which is stuck inside the hen.
An egg bound hen is very uncomfortable. The hen will not be able to expel waste from her body due to being egg bound and she will die if the egg is not removed. Your egg-bound hen may be lethargic, unwilling to eat or drink, may refuse to move around or behave irritably.
Dealing With Egg Bound Hens
Hens can become egg bound due to the size or shape of an egg, having a small pelvis, a lack of calcium in the diet, dehydration and an assortment of other causes. If you believe a hen is egg-bound, take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment of the condition, as well as diagnosis of the cause of the condition. A hen who has become egg-bound once may very well do it again. It may be necessary to sterilize a hen who has problems laying eggs.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.