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Josephine Has Prolapsed Vent/Blow-Out, a.k.a. Are You Sure You Want Backyard Chickens?

May 20, 2013

We were in the coop on Sunday, checking out the general health of the ladies and doing a bit of preventative treatment for the creepy crawlies that are likely to come our way any day now.  While in there I noticed a protrusion from Josephine's vent.  My heart dropped.  I knew exactly what it was.  Unfortunately, we were going to have to get to work quickly.

First, what is it?
Prolapsed Vent {also known as blow-out} is a condition where the inner tissues of the cloaca protrude from the vent.  It's a very serious condition that can not only result in death from the actual prolapse but if you don't catch it before the other chickens do, the chicken with the prolapse can die from the others picking at it.

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What causes it?
A number of things could contribute to a prolapsed vent including, a chicken starting to lay too early, a chicken who has eggs not forming a hard enough shell {lack of calcium}, therefore straining to pass the egg, not enough exercise/not enough of a chicken run for cooped birds {less muscle development}or being forced to lay beyond their natural cycle.

For Josephine, we believe it was the soft shells.  We provide our girls with dried egg shells when we have them as well as oyster shell all the time but we'd noticed soft eggs for about 1 1/2 weeks and weren't sure who was laying them.  Her eggs are now hard - she layed one yesterday.

What to do?
You've got to push the protruding tissue back in.  First, wash the area with warm water to get it as clean as possible.  With a little petroleum jelly, gently push it back into the vent until it's completely in.  Follow-up with a small amount of witch hazel or hemorrhoid cream.  Apply the witch hazel or cream daily for about a week.

If possible, remove her from the flock to her own cage for a few days.  Unfortunately, she is now prone to this so you'll need to keep an eye on her for her lifetime.

The reason I also titled this post "Are You Sure You Want Backyard Chickens?" is because I don't think people think about the medical issues that can arise when deciding to bring chickens home.  If you aren't prepared to deal with this, an egg-bound hen {you must remove the egg from the chicken without breaking it} or other conditions known to chickens, raising chickens may not be for you.

Chickens are fun, they are easy and they bring us a lot of joy.  However, like any animal, there are going to be injuries and illness that you'll need to treat.  Unlike dogs and cats, it can be difficult and very expensive to find a vet to treat your chicken.  You don't want your chickens unnecessarily suffering so it's imperative to think this through prior to the purchase.

Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:When Will My Chickens Start Laying?
Using Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Health
Supplementing A Chicken's Diet
Chicken Water
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons We Learned Building Our Coop
The Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill Farm
All You Need To Know About Chicken Roosts
All You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes

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