Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Sorry for the delay in posting.  Summer has been busy and now that the kids are in school I am finding that we're even busier!

Rosie (front) and Red (rear) my RIR hens
I had an experience last night that had me quite concerned.  Red, one of our Rhode Island Red hens has a problem.  I had noticed earlier in the week her butt was quite caked with poo.  Then last night when I got home from work I noticed it looked like she had prolapsed.  If you are not familiar with the term, it means part of her lower large intestine was protruding out of her vent.  This is not a pretty site, and looked very sore.  Her temperament was good and it didn't look like the other hens were pecking at it yet, but I knew I had to deal with it.  She wouldn't let me catch her so I decided to wait until she went to bed.

When she went to bed, I prepared a plastic tub of warm soapy water and went and got her.  I sat her in the water and it was not something she was too happy about!  But, luckily she was very tired and remained fairly calm.  I had to hold her in the water to soften much of the poo and then I proceeded to gently clean her.  I have to admit, I wasn't able to get all the poo out of the feathers but I got almost all of it off her vent and her protruding guts.

I had read a couple articles earlier in the evening about how people helped their hens recover, they are easy to find on the net, but in short, here are the steps I took.

  1. prepare warm soapy water for a bath
  2. clean her as good as possible
  3. gently reinsert the intestines into the vent...That being said, every time I did, and I moved her they came back out.
  4. put her in a separate cage or pen to keep her safe.
  5. cover the pen somewhat to reduce light and keep her from laying an egg until she has had time to heal.
To my surprise I was happy to find this morning that her vent looks normal with nothing protruding.

Now, this happened to Red because she was constipated.  She had large grass balls trying to come out but were unable to exit.  I manually eased them out in pieces until she appeared empty.  Some hens prolapse when an egg cannot exit.  That is a scary situation because if it breaks, the shells can cut her.

I gave her water with some molasses in it since I heard it can act as a laxative and I don't want her straining.  So now I wait and watch for her to pass feces normally and keep her separated for a week or so until I feel she has recovered.

Bullet dodged!

Update 9/28/12:
I came home from work last night and checked on Red.  I was shocked to find she had laid an egg AND her prolapse had not returned.  I'm thinking she can go back with the flock this weekend.  I do have to give her another bath though.