Date posted: June 17, 2011

Prolapsed Vent

A prolapsed vent on a laying hen occurs when there is degeneration to the muscular system responsible for laying- it is a form of herniation. This can occur when the shell of eggs is not forming properly due to a lack of calcium. Soft shelled eggs are harder to pass through the oviduct and can cause this strain injury. Hens can also be more prone to this injury if they are being forced to continue laying passed a natural cycle of laying (using lamps to extend their laying in the sorter days of winter).
 
You can help prevent a prolapsed vent if you 1) provide enough run space for the hens to walk and scratch. This retains the muscle health of the hen. 2) Support a natural laying cycle and 3) provide calcium supplement to their diet, such as sprinkling ~1Tbs of fine ground oyster shell per birds in their feed once a month.* 4) I have also read that common weed, Shepherds Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), provides a general boost to chicken health.
 
However, if your chicken already has a prolapsed vent (signs: swollen red bottom, blood, egg oozing from cloaca, other hens pecking at her vent), you have to treat her. There areĀ  common and effective ways to treat your hen. The first step is to remove the hen from the flock to prevent cannibalization. Reduce the hens feed (or even don’t feed her for one day) to interrupt laying. This will give her a much needed break in laying.
 
Effective herbal care:
Wash the protruding organ in lukewarm water and using a natural oil (linseed oil or sweet oil), gently press the vent back into the body. Repeat several times as needed. Then wipe the vent area with a cloth or cotton ball that has been soaked in witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana).
 
Witchhazel is an astringentand anti-inflammatory that tightens skin, soothes, reduces swelling. It is used, among other things, to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and bruises.
 
Effective non-herbal care:
Wash the protruding organ in lukewarm water and using petroleum jelly, gently press the vent back into the body. Repeat several times as needed. Then treat the vent area with a combination of Preparation H and antibiotic ointment. Preparation -H reduces the swelling tissue and allows the tissue to recede.
 
Continue these steps until the hen is healed. In severe prolapse where a purse suture may be need to the cloaca, contact your local veterinarian to find out if they can provide this procedure, or if you eat your hens, cull the flock of this bird.
 
*While this amount of calcium has kept my hens’ eggs firm and in great shape, literature does recommend free feeding calcium supplement in a separate feeder. I am going to switch to this and observe any differences.

6 Comments

  1. Rachel B.

    Lynda from Foggy River Farm swears by honey.

  2. Heidi

    i make a paste of sugar, honey, witch hazel, and triple antibiotic ointment (especially if blood is present) and smear it on the area. works like a charm. and fast.

  3. swimmy44

    I will try the witch hazel first – already washed and no cannibalism yet, just a droopy vent area. Then will try the antibiotic ointment. Honey/sugar – interesting – I used that to leach a serious infection out of a tiny dog’s swollen necrotic foot (result of chocolate poisoning) – daily – and it worked over several weeks – swelling went down to normal (it was washed and wrapped daily). she incurred the problem several years ago and is now 14 and healthy.

  4. Esperanza

    swimmy44: Thanks for sharing. I had no idea that tissue necrosis could occur from dogs eating chocolate.

  5. Chris

    I have a hen with prolapse going to try your suggestion, thank you for sharing your advise it’s invaluable for us amateurs, have been giving warm baths, egg and soft shell has come away but left Edith prolapsed hopefully she will stop laying don’t want her to go through this again.

  6. Tracy

    Hi, I have been reading all comments on prolapsed bottom – have you any ideas on how to stop the hen from pecking her own bottom. She has had it stitched back in and on antibiotics (an expensive way of sorting out the problem so I don’t want to lose her by her opening up the problem.



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