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Chicken Egg Binding: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention.

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 1  

Egg binding (hypocalcaemia) is a serious condition in which an egg gets stuck inside the hen just prior to release. Egg binding can be life-threatening when it does occur and if possible, a vet should be seen for treatment. If a visit to the vet is not an option, at-home measures are possible, but not without risk.  


Calcium or other nutritional deficiency


Excessively large or misshapen egg

Hen began laying eggs before her body was fully mature

Lack of sufficient nesting areas, resulting in intentional egg retention

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 2 

An overview of a hen's reproductive system is important in order to know where an egg may be stuck.*

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 3 

A hen's uterus (aka: shell gland) is the muscle responsible for squeezing the egg out of the vent. Since muscles require calcium to
contract properly, if a hen has a calcium deficiency, the egg can get stuck in the uterus. 

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 4 


Loss of appetite

Disinterest in drinking

Walking like a penguin

Shaky wings

Abdominal straining

Frequent, uncharacteristic sitting

Passing wet droppings or none at all (egg interferes with normal defecation)

Droopy/depressed/pale comb and wattles 

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 6 



Prolapsed uterus

Damage to oviduct





Avoid supplemental lighting with young pullets to avoid premature egg-laying

Feed layer ration, which is carefully formulated to provide balanced nutrition to laying hens

Make available oyster shell (or another calcium source) free-choice (never add to the feed)

Avoid excess treats that can interfere with balanced nutrition in layer ratio

Avoid treats in the summer heat when feed intake is reduced & supply additional oyster shell containers 

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 7


Calcium (injection, liquid or via vitamins & electrolyte solution)  

Warm bath

Apply KY jelly to vent


To assess whether a hen is egg-bound at home, gently feel on either side of her vent with one hand (think: squeezing the cheeks of a cute kid). If an egg is felt, giving the hen calcium is the first course of action. Absent liquid calcium, vitamins and electrolytes in the water contain calcium and can help. Even if she's not interested in drinking, try to get some into her with a dropper or syringe carefully. If she is too weak to drink, don't try it. The calcium may be enough to get her to pass the egg on her own within a half hour or so.

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Put the hen in a tub of warm water for 15-20 minutes, which will hydrate her vent and relax her, making it easier to pass the egg.

After a warm bath, some KY jelly applied to the vent can also help hydrate the cloaca to allow for ease of passage when the egg gets to that point (don’t use olive oil, as it can become rancid). Massage the area around the egg gently towards the vent, being careful not to break the eggshell.

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 8a 

At this point, put her in a crate in a darkened, quiet room. If a truly egg-bound hen does not pass the egg within an hour of these measures, the egg may need to be manually removed, which can be dangerous but is possible but proceed at your own risk.

"If she still hasn'texpelled the egg, and you don't think she's going to on her own, then you can move to manual manipulation. This only applies if she is still bright and not in shock. Palpate the abdomen to find the location of the egg and gently manipulate it in an effort to move it along. GENTLE is the key word here. If manual manipulation fails and you can see the tip of the egg, another option is aspiration, implosion, and manual removal.   

"First, get someone to help you hold the bird very securely while you work (preferably not upside down). Then, using a syringe and a large needle (18ga.), draw the contents of the egg into the syringe. After aspiration of the contents, gently collapse the egg all around. You want to do this gently in order to keep the inner membrane of the egg in tact, which will keep the eggshell fragments together.  

Last, gently remove the egg. (Copious amounts of lubrication would be good here.) Go slow and try to keep the shell together although
broken). If all fragments do not come out, they should pass, along with remaining egg content, within the next several days."

Additional reading and resources: 

 Egg Binding Egg Bound Chicken 9 

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*Anatomical illustrations and photo reproduced for educational purposes, courtesy of Jacquie Jacob, Tony Pescatore and Austin Cantor, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Copyright 2011. Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, M. Scott Smith, Director, Land Grant Programs, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Lexington,and Kentucky State University, Frankfort. Copyright 2011 for materials developed by University  of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. This publication may be reproduced in portions or its entirety for educational and nonprofit purposes only. Permitted users shall give credit to the author(s) and include this copyright notice. Publications are also available on the World Wide Web at Issued 02-2011

kathy mormino
9/9/2012 2:18:23 AM

Thank you Shelley!

kathy mormino
9/9/2012 2:18:09 AM

I know you will, Sara. You've been preparing for the big day for a long time now. :)

kathy mormino
9/9/2012 2:17:24 AM

I'm sorry to hear it, Jennifer. I think we're finding that as more and more people keep chickens, the incidence of it is becoming more apparent when it does happen. Most of us don't have vets we can take our pet chickens to when they are sick, you're fortunate in that regard. Knowing the basic steps to take when we have to care for our chickens' health ourselves can make the difference between life and death sometimes. I hope you never need to put this information to use, but it's good to have tucked in the back of your head in case you do! Give my best to your daughter!

kathy mormino
9/9/2012 2:15:04 AM

My pleasure, you're welcome. ☺

kathy mormino
9/9/2012 2:14:52 AM

Thank you Jessica!

jessica casteel
7/31/2012 3:50:28 PM


erin ellerbruch
7/24/2012 1:20:16 AM

good to know! thanks!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 1:00:53 AM

Thank you, Theresa! Chickens are a BLAST! Please let me know if you have any questions I can help with!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 1:00:26 AM

Thank you Lauren, it's substantially similar in chickens as with parrots, so you'd be well-equipped to handle it.

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:59:49 AM

Julie, it can usually be resolved fairly easily but I hope you never need to find that out.

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:59:22 AM

Thanks Misty!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:59:15 AM

I hope you don't ever have to use this info too, Tammy.

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:58:58 AM

Thank you Kelsi, my pleasure!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:58:47 AM

Thanks Susan, glad to hear it!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:58:37 AM

Thanks Cheryl, I try! :)

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:58:26 AM

Thank you Kelzi! :)

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:58:17 AM

Thanks so much, Becky. :)

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:58:07 AM

Linda, the treatment is substantially similar for most birds. What else do you keep?

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:57:26 AM

I know, it's pretty scary stuff, Rebecca.

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:57:14 AM

Thanks so much, Virginia!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:56:52 AM

Thank you Gomer. Keep your peeps safe from the bad guys!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:56:32 AM

You sound pretty busy, Sheilah, thanks for checking in during your free time. :)

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:56:08 AM

I hope you never need it too,Kelzi!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:55:51 AM

Hello Andie! Thanks so much for the nice words, I'm happy to help! I hope you join me on Facebook and my blog! and my blog is

jennifer brueckner
7/24/2012 12:55:05 AM

I lost a hen years ago from egg binding, the vet said it's rare. Thank you so much for covering this. My daughter and I love your site!!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:54:31 AM

Thank you Rebecca!

kathy mormino
7/24/2012 12:54:21 AM

Thanks Amie!

theresa dennett
7/24/2012 12:49:29 AM

Always informative. I have parrots, too, but am getting chickens.

lauren truesdale
7/24/2012 12:41:43 AM

Always informative. I've dealt with this in parrots but not in chickens. Love the T :)

julie thompson
7/24/2012 12:41:02 AM

I would cry if this happens to one of mine, but I am so grateful to now have the information on how to treat it. Thank you so much!

misty smith-newbury
7/24/2012 12:32:43 AM

Love the got eggs tee!! Your web sight is great and very informative.

beer tammy
7/23/2012 11:35:49 PM

i enjoyed reading this .. hope i nevr have this problem

kelsi beer
7/23/2012 11:32:36 PM

you always have wonderful posts! Thanks for posting such great information! :)

susan smith
7/23/2012 11:22:53 PM

Very good article. I'm learning a lot from these

kelzi tacoz
7/23/2012 11:21:21 PM

Great info , as always! :)

cheryl marlow
7/23/2012 11:16:48 PM

Great article, very detailed and informative!

becky heckenlively
7/23/2012 11:10:08 PM

As always great info, Kathy! Thank you so much for sharing.

linda ott
7/23/2012 11:08:23 PM

Wonderful education. Even exotic birds sometimes have problems. Not the exact same treatment, but your images and information may help someone to understand the issues.

rebecca garrett
7/23/2012 11:05:39 PM

Oh how I hope this never happens to my chickens!!!! Yikes! :)

virginia taché
7/23/2012 11:04:24 PM

Always enjoy your tips :) very informative !!!

kathy mormino
7/23/2012 6:53:34 PM

Thanks Laurie!

kathy mormino
7/23/2012 6:52:54 PM

Thank you Jennifer, will do!

kathy mormino
7/23/2012 6:43:28 PM

I hope you never need this information too, Dianna.

kathy mormino
7/23/2012 6:42:48 PM

My pleasure, thank you Paul!

kathy mormino
7/23/2012 6:42:33 PM

How nice to hear, Melinda! I'm relieved for you that you knew just what to do. Nice work!

sara sweatman
7/23/2012 5:33:31 PM

Mine are not laying yet - but when they do, I'll be ready.

gomer clark
7/23/2012 5:18:19 PM

with the heat and the lack of rain..alot of wildlife critters are looking to get an easy meal outa my chickens..but your site is easy on the eyes and very helpful at times..thank u

shelley doris
7/23/2012 4:52:03 PM

Great info!

sheilah locklear
7/23/2012 3:48:09 PM

LOVE all the info you give on this amazing page of yours..Look at it three or four times per day..Depending upon how busy my 20 chickens, 2 cats and a couple of Grandkids keep me..LOVE IT>>

kelzi tacoz
7/23/2012 3:34:50 PM

Great informatiion to have written down in an emergency kit! Hope I ever need to use it though!

andie perry
7/23/2012 3:32:58 PM

Hi, I just found your site and am looking forward to learning lots of information on taking care of my pet chickens and ducks! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I learned a lot from this article and hope my babies never have this problem with an egg! ;)

rebecca whitmire
7/23/2012 3:27:57 PM

Great blog and very informative! I enjoy all of your posts on facebook, I look forward to more.

amie johnson
7/23/2012 3:26:20 PM

Good info to know, like the pictures.

kelzi tacoz
7/23/2012 3:24:01 PM

Great article ! Thanks for the great information! !!

laurie richardson
7/23/2012 3:16:08 PM

Learning lots of stuff! Thanks!

jennifer mccormick willett
7/23/2012 3:11:41 PM

Another great article! I have learned several things I didn't know in the short time I have been subscribed here. Keep up the great work!

dianna ellis
7/23/2012 3:07:53 PM

Thank you for the great information. I luckily have not had to deal with this yet. But now I have the knowledge and will know what to do.

paul ette
7/23/2012 3:05:52 PM

Thank you for passing along such vital information to all of us!

melinda smith
7/23/2012 2:45:28 PM

This information quite literally saved the life of one of my girls! I saw what she was doing, I followed her around and watched her carefully, then I ran in and checked the blogs. I KNEW I had seen the information and sure enough - this walked me through rescuing my poor distressed gal. Thanks so much - the information you share is SO so helpful; especially for the novice chicken gals out here!!

kathy mormino
7/23/2012 2:42:45 PM

Neither did I, Dave! LOL What's fascinating to me is the evolution that chickens have made from their treatment as livestock to pets in the past 15 years or so. Most backyard chicken-keepers these days view their chickens in the same way your mother viewed her Chihuahuas with the additional benefits of providing eggs and the world's best fertilizer to boot! With the change in the way we think about chickens it has become necessary for most of us to learn to care for and treat our sick or injured chickens ourselves. The need for avian vets is dire and even when available, many cannot afford the cost of treatment. Fortunately, many of the things that can go wrong with chickens can be addressed by lay people, which makes the need for well-researched, accurate information vital. I thoroughly enjoy the research and sharing what I learn as I go about my merry chicken-keeping hobby. I know not everyone has the time or inclination to do the legwork themselves and I feel it important and rewarding to help out my peeps whenever I can. So, Dave...when are we going to get you a few feathered backyard pets??? :)

nebraska dave
7/22/2012 7:25:05 PM

Kathy, quite honestly, I didn't know so many things could go wrong with chickens. Mom was in charge of chickens and knowing her mentality if there was a problem with a chicken, it either went in the stew pot or got buried out behind the barn. She was not too much of a nurse maid for animals. Well, that is unless it was one of her Chihuahua dogs. She had a litter of four and couldn't bear to give any away. So Mom drug them all over the country with her and Dad tolerated it. What a guy. They were all resting peacefully under the locust tree on the farm before they sold the farm and moved to Las Vegas. :0) Have a great chicken day.