What to do if you think your hen had an egg break inside of her? In short, take her to the vet. Up until last week I was unaware that this could happen and that it could also lead to serious infection and death. It must have been mentioned in one of the books I read before we got our birds but maybe I skimmed that part. Try to imagine my shock then when I let the flock out one morning and noticed that one of them was acting strangely and had golden yolk streaming out of her vent. It’s yet another case of how keeping backyard hens is more complicated and sometimes angst-ridden than you originally thought it would be.
Initially it doesn’t seem like a broken egg could be very dangerous but it can lead to a condition called Egg Peritonitis. This happens when egg matter isn’t able to leave the body and causes bacterial infection inside the hen. Internal infection is just as serious in hens as it is in people so not treating it is the last thing you want to do. If you suspect that this has happened to one of your girls too, then she will need immediate attention if you want to avoid any further complications.
Miracel keeping her distance and looking pretty miserable
It was our lead hen, Miracel, who had the egg break. She’s our most prolific layer and with her nearly daily production of eggs I can only guess that her system had a malfunction. She seemed perfectly normal one day then the next she was like another bird. Instead of keeping the other girls in line and scrambling to get the best pickings from the food dish she kept her distance and looked a bit off. Her feathers were fluffed up, her wings were drooping, and she seemed to retreat inside herself. It was only after my second visit of the morning that I realised that the poor girl had yolk running from her bum and I started looking in the coop for more clues as to what had happened. Sure enough, under her perch I found pieces of very rubbery textured egg shell covered in goo.
I learned about internally broken eggs and Egg Peritonitis after another chicken owner replied to a post about Miracel on my Facebook page for Lovely Greens. My gut wrenched when another person said that they had a hen die from it just last year and that it was relatively common. After the demise of poor Geraldine I just didn’t want us to have to go through another ‘death in the family’ so soon after the last. Though some people might think me a bit nuts, I rounded Miracel up into a cat carrier and drove her up to Bride to visit Jane Callow’s veterinary practice. She’s the only vet on the island that I know has experience with farm animals. You can tell immediately upon arrival because her practice is on the family farm and there are sheep in the pastures and cats and chickens free ranging everywhere else.
What other vet office do you know has cats sleeping in the shelves? 🙂
When it was Miracel’s turn to be treated the first thing we did was close the windows, just in case. It’s a good thing we did because as soon as she was given the chance, our half-wild game hen took off and started flying around the room looking for an escape. I caught her against one of the windows and for the rest of the inspection had to hold her wings down or we’d have been playing catch the flying chicken all evening. The first thing the vet did was inspect her vent and let me know that she couldn’t feel any broken egg shell inside. After two long-acting doses of antibiotics we were on our way with the instructions to get back in touch if she doesn’t improve within four days. In paying up I was surprised to see that the bill amounted to a little over £10, so nothing that was going to break the bank.
Miracel feeling healthy and hungry this morning – she really liked the shredded carrots I put out for her
You’ll be happy to hear that Miracel is much better and nearly fully recovered. We don’t think she’s laid an egg since the ‘incident’ but she’s not droopy and hiding by herself any more and her energy levels are up. I’m just glad that we caught the issue when we did and that we had a professional who could give us advice and treatment. We’re still keeping a close eye on our little white hen and making sure she’s getting plenty of treats but I think she’s going to be just fine.