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How to Treat an Egg Bound Hen

An egg bound hen will die if you can't get her to lay the egg that's stuck inside. Here are some tips to accomplish that task as quickly and as safely as possible.

Imagine one morning you notice one of your hens acting funny. She's sitting in the corner all fluffed up, her eyes are closed and she is lethargic.

Or maybe she's standing by herself. Her tail is down, she may be dragging her wings, and most likely she is straining or pumping her backside.

Upon closer examination you may notice that liquid is dripping from her vent and you may feel an egg-shaped lump. These are all signs of an egg bound hen.

How to Treat an Egg Bound Hen

Considering the process that a chicken goes through nearly every day to lay a perfect egg, it's no wonder that things go wrong on occasion. 

It's really important to identify and treat an egg bound hen asap because the condition can be life threatening and cause death in just a short period of time.


You've got about 48 hours for an egg bound hen to pass the egg or she won't make it. So don't waste any time - and if you even suspect that she's egg bound, start treatment as described below. If it turns out she wasn't, no harm done. And you'll have a really clean chicken!

And if she indeed is egg bound, it's imperative that you get her to lay her egg ASAP.

What is an Egg Bound Hen? 

An egg bound hen literally has an egg stuck in her oviduct. It is most common in young or obese chickens or chickens forced to lay year round using artificial light in their housing.

Fortunately, being egg bound is not all that common, and there's a good chance you may never have a hen suffer from it, but it's still good to know the signs and how to treat it. 

If she isn't able to lay the egg within 48 hours, it could kill her.

What Causes an Egg Bound Hen?

Too much protein in a hen's diet can cause egg binding.  Other potential causes are stress, internal worms, low quality feed, dehydration or weakness from a recent illness.

Or it could be due to a large or double yolked egg that is too large to pass through, genetics or a calcium deficiency. Adequate calcium in the diet is necessary for strong eggshells, but also is needed for proper muscle contraction to help the hen expel the egg.

Other causes of an egg bound hen include |


  • Very young, premature layer 
  • Poor overall diet, low quality feed
  • Calcium deficiency 
  • Excess protein in the diet
  • Obesity 
  • Overly large egg gets stuck 
  • Oviduct infection 
  • Internal parasites 
  • Genetics
  • Dehyration
  • Stress

So what are the symptoms of an egg bound hen?


  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased thirst
  • Pale comb and wattles
  • Lethargy
  • Droopy wings
  • Waddling
  • Straining or pumping her rear end
  • Frequently sitting on the ground
  • Wet feces or vent
  • Lack of defecation

How Do I Treat an Egg Bound Hen?

As soon as you have identified an egg bound hen, you must treat her quickly. An egg bound hen will die if she is not able to pass the egg within 48 hours, so once you have made your diagnosis, treatment should start immediately.

You want to handle your egg bound hen carefully to avoid breaking the egg inside her, which can lead to infection and possible death.

Egg Yolk Peritonitis

Peritonitis,  or egg yolk peritonitis is an infection caused by egg material stuck inside the hen.  If an egg breaks inside a hen, she is unable to pass the egg or the egg ends up in her abdomen instead of her oviduct - called internal laying, - she can get an infection called peritonitis. 

Symptoms of egg yolk peritonitis  are similar to being egg bound or having water belly and can include: 

  • lethargy
  • waddling
  • no appetite
  • not laying

Egg yolk peritonitis has to be treated with antibiotics, and also giving some probiotic powder to rebuild good bacteria can help as well. 

The condition can be cured, but if the hen continues to lay internally, it can be a recurring problem and must be treated immediately each time with an antibiotic, such as Baytril, so you want to avoid that at all costs.

But even if the egg hasn't broken, you will want to treat her as soon as possible.

What you Need for Treatment

  • Tub of warm water
  • Epsom salts
  • Crate or box
  • Towel

How to Treat an Egg Bound Hen

Here's how to treat an egg bound hen: 

  • Soak Her in Warm Water

 The easiest thing to do is to carefully bring the hen into the house and soak her in a plastic tub in your bathtub. Submerge her lower body and vent in warm water with some Epsom salts for about 20 minutes, gently rubbing her abdomen.

Remove her gently from the bath and towel dry her, blotting her feathers carefully.

If it's winter or there's any draft, dry her off with a hair dryer set on low heat. 

  • Lubricate her Vent

Then rub some Fresh Eggs Daily Herbal Salve  or vegetable/olive oil around her vent and very gently massage her abdomen once more.  

  • Keep her Quiet and Calm

Then put the hen in quiet, dark location in a large crate or cage.

A dog crate or bird cage with a towel or blanket draped over it, a towel that has been warmed in the dryer on the bottom, and set over a pan of hot water (or with a heating pad under the towel) with a heat lamp is perfect.

You want to create moist heat.

  • Administer a Calcium Supplement

See if she'll drink some Nutri-Drench and 1cc of liquid calcium (between 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoon) on her own or mixed into a little bit of water. If not, use a plastic syringe to carefully administer the dosage by mouth. Then give her some time to herself. 

IMPORTANT: Read this with directions on how to give a chicken medication by mouth.

Repeat the soak in the tub every hour or so until she lays her egg.

As a Last Resort for an Egg Bound Hen

If you can see the egg, you can try to carefully extract the contents of the egg using a syringe and then gently crush the shell, keeping the fragments attached to the membrane and remove it using vegetable oil squirted in and around the vent.

This is risky and carries with it the danger of your hen contracting an infection, so should ONLY be used after all other remedies have been tried.

What if Home Treatment Doesn't Work?

As a last resort if the above treatment doesn't work within a few hours, a visit to a vet is recommended, if at all possible.

How Do I Prevent an Egg Bound Hen?


  • Feed a good-quality layer feed

  • Offer crushed eggshell or oyster shell free-choice so each hen can eat as much or as little as she needs

  • Stick to healthy treats like fresh greens and vegetables and limit them to 10% of overall diet

  • Provide chickens plenty of room to exercise

  • Avoid supplemental lighting in your coop

  • Thanks to Orange Chicken for her role as the egg bound hen. She did a wonderful job pretending to be ailing. I think she actually enjoyed all the attention and the impromptu bath!

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