Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eggo Egg Bound?

When I found our white Ameraucana stiff as board, beak in the dirt, spread eagle under the coop, the first thing I thought was that the mites took her. Upon closer inspection I saw that she had passed a couple blood clots, which were stuck to her fluff. Did she get an egg stuck? Since it was dark out already, I decided to sleep on it.

The next morning, scalpel in hand, I went to see if egg binding was the actual culprit. Having never eviscerated a hen before, I struggled with where to start. A good long cut from the cloaca down the belly seemed right enough. Dang, there was a lot of stuff in there! I probably should have checked out some chicken anatomy diagrams before I began this little operation. Next time.

After rummaging through her intestines, I found a hard oblong sac, which at first I thought was the trapped egg but then realized as I sliced it open that it must be the stomach... er, crop (chickens don't have stomachs) as it was full of grass, dirt and other muck. In the center of all the mush, I found the culprit: a big chunk of glass. I thought my luck with chickens was pretty piss poor, but this one really takes the cake. Damn, just when I was getting those mites cleared up!

R.I.P. Eggo.

In other news, Sweet Pea's bumblefoot has cleared up nicely and she's laying eggs again. The other two hens are not laying, still losing feathers, and seem to be going through a second molt. I didn't know that was possible until my friend Esperanza sent me this. And then I read another article on the topic that says stressful events - like heat, mites, or parasites - can lead to molting. Some breeds only molt every two years, which would explain my friend Rachel's ragged hen that didn't molt this year.

Hopefully one of our remaining ladies will go broody soon and we can pop a few new chicks under her. This is a great way to take advantage of one of those chicken behavioral annoyances that leads to reduced egg production. The broody hen will see the chicks, think she's hatched them, and then dote on them like any good mother hen.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about Eggo.

    My poor RIRs with their sunburned butts and ragged feathers. Maybe I should stress them out to force them to molt. Or not.

  2. Mine are all moulting like crazy and i haven't had any eggs for weeks. I tried sneaking some day old chickens under a hen that had been sitting on eggs last spring. She killed half of them and the rest we rescued and hand reared. If you have any secrets about getting a hen to take chicks, I would love to hear it. We put them under quietly at night and removed the eggs. She hardly noticed but clearly didn't fall for it either.

  3. @ Hazel - was she actually sitting on the eggs or broody when you gave her the chicks? wonder if she knew.

  4. Again, thanks! I'm storing away all the information you are giving out for the day I need to deal with the same things from my chickens. Luckily so far there haven't been many blips but some day I just might have to get in there and cut something. I'm going to keep an extra eye out for glass around their coop from now on.

  5. Wow, good for you for figuring out the cause of death. I'm not sure I'd have the stomach for that. Sorry for your hen loss though.:(

  6. Heidi your like "house" for hens, seriously you rock. I too am storing all your fantastic insights and chicken experiences in my brain. Sorry to hear about your hen. RIP Eggo

  7. Awww Heidi, I'm sorry about Eggo. The previous owners here were rifle and bb gun happy, and it's amazing what chickens will eat when they find it.

    Although day-length primarily drives molt, our old hens drove me crazy one year, molting 3 times in one year, twice before the day length started to decrease. Eventually we chalked it up to Bobcat stress and harassment. Since we moved them to a bobcat free area, they're back to normal.

    Glad to read that Sweet Pea's bumble foot is healing.

  8. I have always wanted to operate to look for a cause, but never had the nerve to actually do it. I will try to be as brave on day. Glass!? Dang! I am so glad to hear the foot problem healed up and you didn't have to go in after it. (or did I miss something)