ChickenAndDuckEggsYesterday I noticed a chicken feeling a little out of sorts, hunched in one of the houses with her feathers puffed out. I picked her up and could feel she had some kind of egg binding going on. I brought her in the house and worked on her some. But what a weird phenomenon this one turned out to be. Only read on if you want to see some science pictures…

Palpating is always difficult for me. What was going on inside this chicken? It felt like a baseball in there. One giant egg? Or wait, were there two eggs, side-by-side, interfering with each other’s passage? At times I thought I could feel egg ends, other times I’d go back to the baseball theory.

I tried pushing things around in there. I tried going up her cloaca to see if I could feel an egg- nothing. (Poor chicken, I did apologize profusely for all this prodding, but sadly, whether you save them or not, they become somewhat of a science experiment- medicine is not glamorous.) I gave her a homeopathic remedy that’s supposed to be good for egg bound- pulsatilla. I let her stay in the house near the wood stove. By evening, I thought things had shifted lower, and maybe there was a chance of her passing something.

I tried one more thing: I have read that sometimes you can stick a large-bore needle inside a stuck, oversized egg and extract some of its contents. Once the egg isn’t pressurized from within, the chicken’s oviduct contractions will crush the egg shell, and then it can pass. I didn’t have a good large-bore needle, but I did have some long ones, so I gave it a try. I stuck it in on one side of her abdomen and then the other, thinking if there were two eggs I might get either or both of them. But oddly, I could feel no shell as the needle went in, and I stuck it way inside. It just felt like regular tissue all the way in, and she did not flinch. And nothing would extract out of the inside- like it was dry. Hmmm.

She was still reasonably perky- docile, but eating and drinking and moving around. It’s a fine line between knowing when to just butcher an animal to end their misery, and when to try to heal them. Eggbound chickens are known to repeat. But I do enjoy the challenge of trying to fix them, so I let her spend the night in the house, to give her a little more time. Plus I was too tired to butcher a chicken before bed!

But by morning it was clear she had become distressed, and was near expiring. So I dispatched her, dry-plucked her, and cut her open to find out what mystery lay inside. It was hard to even figure out how to butcher her out, that thing was so large in there, it got in the way. I had to do things backwards, extracting out the chest cavity and this monster thing first, then work backwards to remove her intestines and anus.


And this time, I was right. It was a baseball! Or nearly so. It was one bizarre, freakish, giant egg with a cooked-looking yolk in the middle, and layers and layers and layers of yolk-textured grayish-white tissue around it. If it wasn’t so completely gross and weird smelling, one might be fooled into thinking it was a lovely pastry with an egg in the middle! Open-mouthed smile Moon cake, anyone? Smile with tongue outWeirdEgg

Come to think of it, I used to have a chicken that had problems with laying soft-shelled eggs. And a while back (a few weeks ago?), that stopped. I thought maybe making oyster shells more available to them had solved the problem, or maybe that hen was just molting and not laying. Or, maybe, her soft shell problem had gone completely haywire and she just started laying down tissue to manufacture this one giganto mutant soft egg. Fascinating!