Egg Bound with 48 hours to live

Friday afternoon,  I picked up 25 beautiful young laying hens.

I’ve decided to get back into farm fresh egg sales.  These hens will be grazing outside during the day, rather than cooped up in a building.

Saturday morning I went to check and see how they were adjusting to their new quarters, I noticed one of the girls wasn’t moving, and hadn’t  move for several hours.  The words “egg bound” popped into my head.  Not sure where that came from, but growing up on a farm, I thought of first calf heifers.  In the back of your mind, you were sort of holding your breath until their first calf was successfully delivered…(so in my mind, I had a similar train of thought..these hens are just starting to lay..I wonder if she’s got a large egg stuck in her birth canal???

My mind went to All God’s Creatures Great and Small, the mini series we have been watching.


(What would James Harriot do?)

I got on line and googled “egg bound.”

Sure enough, it’s a thing.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos, read a handful of  articles..several of them mentioned putting the bird in a small tub of water and filling it with Epson salts. Let her soak in there for 20 minutes, then put her somewhere quiet, by herself.  (You can also do more such as attempt to reach up into the bird and see if you can manually extract the “stuck” egg.) I decided, if it came to that, I was not going to do it, because that also brought with it another bunch of risks.

Didn’t have any Epson salt, so went with plan B.

Morton salt.

The poor little hen was obviously in distress,  but seemed to love soaking in that warm water bath.  Took her out to the shop and put  her in a pet carrier/ lots of fresh hay, food and water, and covered the carrier with a towel.  The idea is to put her somewhere dark and quiet so she can relax.

If this didn’t work, she probably had 48 hours or less to live before her bowels backed up and she died from complications.

Sunday morning when I went to check on her, low and behold, she had laid an egg!

It was one of the  highlights of my weekend. 🙂

She was still moving a little slowly, I noticed one of her toes  was bleeding and didn’t seem to want to stop. It must have happened when we brought them home.

How to get a chicken’s toe to stop bleeding?  I knew she could not go back with the rest of the hens, quite yet, because, if they saw and got a taste of blood, it would be all over for little Henny Penny.  Chickens can be nasty like that..They will eat their own, just like pigs.

Pigs will do that too.

I’ve seen it happen.

Never trust a pig.


Update Tuesday morning.

Toe had stopped bleeding,  I found a 2nd egg.  Little hen was moving around freely in my shop, pooping here and there.  Decided to mark her tail with a tab of red spray paint. That way  I could keep an eye on her to make sure she was not getting bullied.  30 minutes later, I re-introduced her to the flock.  She hadn’t been gone long enough for them to think she was a new bird.  (When you mix older birds together, they will  often fight to establish the pecking order).

The treatment had been a success.

In high school, I wanted to be a vet.

I think it would have been a good fit.

The end.




This entry was posted in chickens, enjoying life, faith, farming, life in the country, personal, random, self sufficient, Uncategorized, wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Egg Bound with 48 hours to live

  1. I love this story. I’m so glad it worked out (literally) for Henny Penny.
    Chickens are interesting creatures.

    • DM says:

      thanks Martha! I saw her again last night w/ the rest of the flock. 100% back to normal. now if I could just get every one of them to start laying. I have heard back from the local people I reached out to, that were interested in pastured chickens/ eggs, so the market is there…chickens are at 50% of their productivity.

  2. pkadams says:

    Great job ! I’m sure she was very thankful for the relief and care. Or at least very relieved.

  3. Deb says:

    If that chicken could talk I’m sure she would have said thank you.

  4. Jon says:

    Learn something every day… Thanks!

  5. Bobby Garrett says:

    Hey, you my kind of Farm Boy!! I have heard of this also .Good outcome. Bobby Garrett

  6. paulsprepping says:

    We had 6 chickens, one just gave up and we found her flopped on her bedding. The rest loved the attention they got from SWMBO and followed her everywhere.

    Free range during the day (and don’t they hide their eggs well!) they laid a grand total of 1254 eggs. (SWMBO is the bean counter). Then, old to start with, another couple quietly died and the last one (affectionately called scraggy) was taken, complete with coop) to join a one eyed cock called Steve. He ended up so hen pecked, he wouldn’t go anywhere near the hen house. One up for the girls!

  7. LA says:

    Glad you were able to help the poor thing out! And…how good was that show?!

    • DM says:

      We LOVED the show. Had to watch the ending a couple of times (and read the story summary on line) to clearly figure out where things stood w/ Helen and James @ the end of season one (compared to the earlier versions of the stories.) Great story tellers who are writing it. Talk about a slow burn.

  8. avwalters says:

    She probably thought you were trying to brine her, and dropped that egg quick, before she became dinner. We’re down to two chickens. We’ll pick up a few more in a month or so. I don’t want to be in the chicken business, but two (and one doesn’t lay) isn’t keeping us in eggs. I’ve come to enjoy their antics, and it feels right to walk out and see chickens in the yard.

    • DM says:

      There is something rewarding about seeing a few chickens in the yard. I actually have 4 hens and a rooster from last year still alive. (they are down to 1 or 2 eggs a day. I am going to let them free range this season for that very reason. I also decided to see if I can hatch a couple of dozen from that group. The birds are a nice dual purpose breed..big, and good layers. I’ve always wanted to have a broody hen who would sit on her eggs, but that hasn’t happened, so I’m going to plan B. Get a small incubator. It’s on order. Yea, I’m easily entertained. 🙂

      • avwalters says:

        A friend who has Buff Orpintons complains that they always go broody! I’ve never had a chicken do so, but my sister has–funny that many backyard chicken owners see it as a problem, but it’s actually a necessity to continuing the breed…if you’re a chicken.

  9. valbjerke says:

    For future reference – any pet store sells ‘quick stop’ to stop bleeding. Or your vet might sell you some. It’s for when you might clip nails too short on cats, or dogs, or house birds. Works like a charm.

  10. Cute story Doug. I remember our chickens. They were so cute. We rehomed the surviving three and as Paul said, Scraggy was the last to fold. They found her permanently asleep in the nesting box.

  11. Joni says:

    You would have made a fine James Harriot!

  12. emjayandthem says:

    I loved this post!! and I’m sure Henny Penny thanks you for your intuitive kindness.


    • DM says:

      Good morning MJ, fellow farm kid. 🙂 I’d never in all my years of being around chickens every experienced this first hand. in the back of my mind, I thought, if she’s still in distress 24 hours later, I was going to put her out of her misery. Hate to see animals suffer. Good thing, things worked out like they did, because I was close to making that decision. When I was 14, I had to put my pet calf down. Was not easy, still remember the feelings. Good to hear from you! DM

      • emjayandthem says:

        I love how you intuitively knew what to do and where to even start. I agree, don’t like to see anyone suffer. I’m so glad she is happily back in the flock now!! ~ well done, MJ

  13. Don’t they start laying better when it warms up. We used to have a neighbor with an egg business. Just a couple in their 60s and 70s who lived chickens. They had 90 at one time which was way too many for the space they had. They were considered free range I guess but had to have a large fenced pen because if Hawks and dogs thst would break into the yard.
    But they took excellent care of them…in the summer she would grind up carrots and freeze a block for the chickens to eat on hot days. Every morning she went to the grocery store where they saved all the throwaway veggies and greens and would feed that to the chickens. Her eggs were the best I’ve had. People appreciate good eggs!!

  14. Ann Knupp says:

    Love this story! You are such a good caretaker to first off notice what was going on and then go to the length you did to help the little hen 🤗

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