Chicken Coop Chatter©
There are a variety of issues that may cause a prolapsed vent, but regardless of the reason, it does need to be treated, or risk the loss of the hen or hens affected. A term you may come across in your own research is *blow out*, though that may be a non scientific term it is descriptive of the prolapsed condition.
One of the most common causes of prolapsed vent is a new laying pullet, or hen that has laid an unusually large egg. Though we look upon these eggs with amazement, it should be a red flag, that something may be going on with the hen. She may have an infection in the oviduct, may have been egg-bound without being noticed and treated, or may be overweight from too many treats or too often gorging on feed. Gorging may occur with a chicken that is low on the pecking order, that feels the need to eat as much as possible while it has a chance without others chasing it away.
Occasional treats are fine, however chickens can become obese if they are consistently offered fattening treats, which can cause internal issues and vent prolapse. In our efforts to provide the best for our hens, we also at times over indulge them and they become too fat which can cause a variety of health issues. We see blogs many times showing special treats they offer to their flock in winter to warm them or when there's an abundance of scraps, but we caution, that it is far better to ration, than to make this a daily or even weekly habit.
To identify a prolapse, observe the vent area. If you see excessive tissue protruding from the vent, redness, obvious soreness and/or bleeding then the hen needs to be treated before possible infection sets in.
Remove the hen from the flock to a pet carrier. Provide a warm, quiet environment, with food, water and puppy training pads for bedding. Soak the bottom end of the hen in warm Epsom salts water up to 20 minutes or until the water cools. Dry thoroughly, with a heavy towel and blow dryer set on low, then using surgical gloves on your hands, pluck some of the feathers from around the area to keep them from sticking to the protrusion: apply a water proof medicated, anti-bacterial salve, such as Bag Balm, Neosporin or Hemorrhoid ointment, while attempting to gently force the protruding tissue back inside, apply the salve in and around the vent area, and place her in the prepared carrier or cage. Repeat the soaking at least once daily until you are able to observe a healing process. It is best that the hen not lay eggs, which may or may not be possible to avoid, however if you will place the carrier in a dark to semi-dark environment, the natural laying clock will be altered and she should lay off.
Continue this therapy, making certain the hens environment is clean, is receiving a proper diet and staying hydrated at all times. Provide electrolytes in her water to promote a balance in her system and prevent shock from pain she may be enduring. We provide a link to an electrolyte formula that you can make up as needed, using common pantry products. http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/1/post/2014/01/electrolyte-recipe.html
The recommendation of the puppy training pads is made because you want to be able to keep the vent as clean as possible without bedding and other materials sticking to the protruding flesh. The training pads are easily disposed of and easily removed without too much disruption of the ailing hen. You can provide a perch that is easy for the hen to access, so she is able to be up and away from any waste. The Hemorrhoid ointment is recommend to help reduce the swollen area and promote healing. It will work the same way for this problem as it does for it's intended use.
Always use good hygiene practices when handling your flock, so you are not inadvertently spreading illness and disease from one to another or to yourself. Encourage your children to wash after handling their favorite hen or new chicks. Having a container of anti-bacterial wipes handy at all times will be a reminder to wipe hands between handling one bird to another or from chicks to adult flocks.
If you have a local veterinarian that treats poultry, they may be called in to perform this treatment for you. It may or may not be successful, however they can also alert you to the possible cause and if there is an internal infection causing the prolapse, which can be treated with antibiotics. In addition if surgery needs to be performed to reposition the vent or remove an obstruction, the vet can take care of that if costs are not prohibitive. No doubt you will be sent home with instructions to soak, and treat the swelling vent area, and administer antibiotics, just as we have instructed above.
A prolapsed vent can cause death in a chicken if it is caused by an underlying internal infection or disease. The damaged vent can also cause a chickens laying days to come to an end or cause chronic infection of the vent. The course of treatment with soaking in warm water is the same treatment we would recommend for a hen that is egg-bound, to help prevent possible vent prolapse.
If you have a hen that has chronic egg binding or vent prolapse, she should be culled or kept from laying for the duration of her life to prevent the risk of infections that may shorten her life and require more care than you are able to provide.
If this occurs only one time, be looking for a change of diet, added calcium supplement, fewer treats or an internal cause. Some hens may lay xtra large eggs, so it is an inordinately large egg that is of concern; an egg twice the size of a typical xtra large egg, or a bantam hen that lays an egg the size of a large hen should be an alert to take a closer look at what is going on with that hen. If you do not know which hen has laid those odd eggs, you will have to examine each hen for tell tale signs of a prolapsed vent.
At times a hen may mysteriously expire for no known cause. It is possible that she was egg-bound or had a prolapsed vent that went unnoticed. Whether you can tell that upon examination may be reliant on how soon you find the expired hen. There can be many causes of a sudden death, and only through examination or necropsy can that be determined. Any time there is a sudden and unexpected death in the flock, be looking for underlying reasons to prevent or divert illness or diseases that may spread through the flock. Be watching for lethargy, discolored comb and wattles, general behavior changes, sneezing, wheezing, gaping mouth and head shaking are all indicators that something is not right with that bird or birds within the flock and you will need to take time to examine those affected and isolate them from the general flock until you are able to determine the cause. If you are not able to determine a cause, you may need to seek professional advice and examination to prevent an entire flock from succumbing to a possible virus, and to know the course of treatment required for the flock.
As always, we recommend that you have a medical kit made up and kept current and accessible in the event of illness or injury. We provide a link to our recommendations that covers a variety of issues. You determine whether you will need any or all of those items suggested. We know from practical experience, that there are few vets that treat fowl, we know that anything can happen and it is our responsibility to treat them and nurse them back to health if at all possible and to prevent spread of illness or disease in the remaining flock. Having a well stocked animal Rx kit can help ease some of the worry when things suddenly happen. http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/1/category/poultry-first-aid-kit/1.html
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