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Chicken seems to be struggling to poop?

My hen has recently been looking down. Her feathers below her tail feathers are spread constantly as if she wants to poop, but nothing happens. It happened about 2 days ago and then she was fine again and now it's happening again. She still poops a bit, but it's as if she's struggling to get it out. She also just stands still a lot like that and doesn't want to eat. Does someone know what might be wrong?


  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    shes not struggling to lay is she?a soak in a warm bath and some extra calcium may help her .
    a spoonful of liquid paraffin (the laxative used for dogs not the fuel!) will sort out blockages . massage her crop for her now and again too. i ve also found lettuce and porridge oats tend to make them "go" too
    xx Kath
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Yes, this does sound more like a hen who is trying to lay.
    I have a hen who passes runny egg matter, followed by a membrane at some stage. She will usually pass the eggy stuff at night in the hut, then the soft membrane in the garden. Sometimes I find a dried up membrane in the garden - it just looks like a piece of paper. Sometimes the other hens eat the membrane so nothing to find.

    Check the bedding in the hut to see if there is any gooey egg matter amongst it, or sunk to the bottom on the hut floor. I would expect you to find this because otherwise an egg bound hen would have probably died by now.

    Then we need to work out why it's happening, so I have a few questions:

    How old is she?
    What breed is she?
    Do you know when she laid her last proper egg?
    When was she last dewormed?
    What are her poops like - colour/consistency/smell/any undigested contents?
    When did she have her last moult?

  • She is 1 year and 4 months old. She is a bantam chicken. She hasn't layed an egg in a very long time, but I just went into the coop and saw that one of our hens layed an egg that fell to the floor. It looks like the shell was kind of soft too and I'm guessing it's her, because it was closer to the side she was sleeping at. She was dewormed last month. Her poop looks normal, but just a lot smaller. It doesn't have much of a smell and there are no undigested contents. She hasn't moulted at all yet.

    The thing is today she looks a lot better. Eating more, running around and everything, but that has happened before and after about two days of her feeling alright she started looking down again.

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Thanks for getting back to us Shani. It looks like she is laying soft shelled eggs (just the membrane), which would perfectly explain the cycle you describe.

    Sometimes it can be 'just one of those things', especially if your other hens are laying normal eggs.

    Are you feeding your hens 'layers' feed, such as layers pellets, crumb or mash? This should contain sufficient calcium.

    Meanwhile, even though her poo looks normal, I thought you might appreciate this link about chicken poo! (I know, I'm too kind 😁😁😁)

  • Thank you so much! And yes we bought some layer seed and mixed a bunch of it with their normal seed. We had crushed ones too just for if they don't eat the bigger ones.

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Do you mean layer feed? In the UK layers feed is a specially formulated brown pellet or powder. It has the right mix of nutrients for laying hens. Too much seed or grain can be a problem for hens, as they won't get the right balance of nutrients such as calcium. Also they can gain too much weight on seed, which could also cause egg laying problems.
    This is the sort of thing we have, and I think you'll like the website too:

  • Oh yes, I meany layer feed. I didn't even notice I typed seed. And thank you for the website!

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    You're welcome Shani, and good luck with your soft shell layer!
  • edited May 2020

    I'm sorry to bother you, but she's been fine for a very long time now until today. She hasn't layed any eggs since the last one that I told about on here (the one that fell to the ground). I've been making sure she eats extra layer feed and I gave them some egg too and I thought it was working til now. It makes me so sad to see her like this, she doesn't want to eat at all, barely moves and keeps her feathers seperated as if pooping and, I don't really know what their "hole" should look like, but it seems a bit red and maybe swollen? Then again I don't know if that's swollen or just normal. She keeps passing gooey poo. It's like see through goo type of thing with bits of white. I don't want her to hurt like this, is there another way to fix this?

    Btw she hasn't layed eggs in a long time (a few months by now, except for the one exception mentioned in this text) and yesterday she did do that "pretend egg" laying thing where she screams and sings after laying an egg, but she didn't lay anything.

    Edit: I just went into the coop, she layed an egg randomly again where they sleep. It didn't break this time luckily so I could see what it looked like. It's as if it doesn't have a shell and it's only the soft skin piece on the outside. I'm guessing this is still her laying soft shelled eggs, I just wanted to say for incase.

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Hi Shani, you are no bother at all. Queries like this are what keeps this forum going so never apologise for being a caring owner.
    What you have described sounds like a classic case of being egg bound. Those soft shelled eggs are really difficult for hens to pass.
    For now she has lived to fight another day it would seem, but it is highly likely that she will always have this problem.
    We have a hen like this too, who randomly plops her soft shelled eggs out around the garden, much to the delight of the others, who gobble it up as quickly as they can!

    One of these days she will be unable to pass her egg without help. If you feel up to it when that time comes it is possible to help her. To do that you need some disposable latex gloves handy (non-powdered).
    You would need to put your finger inside her vent and see if you can feel an egg up there. The 'egg tube' is on the hen's left side, and the poop tube is on the hen's right; they both meet at the same hole - the vent. when you feel inside you might find poop, in which case you are in the poop tube! If that is the case, put on a fresh glove and try again. Usually the egg is stuck about a finger length in and can be gently manipulated out. If it's a soft shell then it is OK to break it, then the contents will just run out, and you need to hook out the soft shell.
    Your vet should be able to show you how to do this if you'd rather see it first.

    Hope this helps. Don't be afraid to ask again if you need me to clarify anything.

  • edited May 2020

    How do I know when she needs help? She lays eggs late in the day when they're already supposed to sleep. The only time I see it is either the next morning or if I pick them up to cuddle.

    Is there a way to permanently fix the egg bound thing? I don't want to see her pass away just because I couldn't notice if she needs help.

    I know that after a few years hens stop laying eggs so if she survives till then, will the problem be gone?

    And our chickens aren't very tame so I'm afraid it might be difficult to help her, because she'll move around to much. She doesn't even like it when I touch her feet. Is there an easy way to hold her or put her in a position so she won't move as much?

    And could it be because she's kind of small? Compared to my other hen she's a bit smaller, but it's not a huge difference. Our other hen also hasn't layed in a while, but she seems completely fine and still enjoys eating and running. She did moult a while ago and I don't think she's still moulting. She hasn't gotten her colour back in her comb yet though, not like the small, egg bound hen. Her eggs have always been kind of long when she layed them compared to our other hen's eggs which were round and fat.

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Don't worry Shani, you would know if she needed help, since she would be barely able to stand and weak enough for you to handle.

    There are three possible options here, but don't get your hopes up:

    1. It is possible that this is caused by an infection in the oviduct. Your vet would be able to confirm this and prescribe antibiotics if that is the case.

    2. There is an implant called 'suprelorin' which can be implanted just under the hen's skin by a vet. These typically stop a hen laying after about 2-3 weeks and last about 3 months. I don't know if they might are available to you in SA, but here they are quite expensive (around £140)
    There is also a downside to these implants which I have noticed, and that is that the hen tends to appear 'depressed' . For this reason I don't use them these days, as I prefer the hen to experience the natural behaviour of laying, even if it does ultimately cause her demise.

    3. An experienced vet might be willing to do a 'hen hysterectomy.' To be honest there are not many vets experienced in this kind of op, because it is rare for people to want it done. It would be pretty expensive too. Over here there are some vets who specialise in helping commercial hen rehoming organisations, and they do this procedure now and then.

    Bear in mind that hens with this problem often have an underlying cause and they are unlikely to live as long. Her size is unlikely to make a difference.

    In the meantime, and before you contemplate any of the above, I would suggest you only feed your hens the layers feed, with nothing else mixed in such as seed. Only give seed as an occasional treat, and late afternoon, that way they will have eaten the layers feed first. Think of the layers feed as a nice healthy meal with fruit and veg, and the seed as a naughty treat. Most of us will eat the naughty treat given the choice!
    Ensure that they have both soluble and insoluble grit available at all times too. Here's a link explaining why:


  • Thank you so much! We were planning to buy a lot of layer feed anyway so at least we'll be prepared.

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