When I first adopted my flock, I said–partly in jest, but not really–to my small animal vet, “You’d better study up on chickens!” He laughed and said, “I’ll have to go back quite a few years for THAT!” That was funny at the time, but this morning, when I scheduled an appointment for an Xray on Mabel, it was even funnier. Of course, Mabel being in distress and potentially egg-bound is NOT funny. Scheduling an Xray for a chicken at a veterinarian’s office when they don’t even have a category for “backyard chickens” IS a little bit funny.
When a hen is “egg-bound,” it means there is an egg stuck in her oviduct that can’t properly pass through. It may be too large, it may be broken, or it may be just . . . stuck. There are symptoms that point me in this direction of thinking: her general lowered interest in things (food, pecking around the backyard, etc.), a bit of a “fluffed-up” feather situation (though it’s 48 in Florida this morning, and that could be part of it), walking a bit funny, and a lot of crouching/roosting on the ground. Her droppings are not normal, either, but that isn’t so unusual for Mabel the Sable Black Label. She also didn’t sleep on her normal roost last night. She slept on the floor of the coop. First time I’ve ever noticed that. Which is what told me there could be a problem.
There are some possible fixes–if she is, indeed, egg-bound. A warm bath in a tub for 20 minutes is the number one recommended treatment. A calcium-something-or-other injection is another possible treatment. But before I subject her to a warm bath and then put her out in 49-degree weather, perhaps the Xray can give us more information. (It also helps when you’re able to trade graphic design services with your cherished vet, thus saving the god-only-knows-what-it-would-cost vet bill for a chicken Xray.)
I’ll advise on Mabel’s situation as I know more.