Prolapse

Every time a hen lays an egg she pushes out the inner lining of the vent slightly; in 99% of cases this shiny red protruding flesh immediately pulls back inside the hen, in a small number of cases it doesn’t, resulting in a prolapse.

Reasons hens prolapse

  • Extremely large eggs which push out more inner lining than is usual .
  • Soft shell eggs which can cause the hen to strain hard increasing the likelihood of a prolapse.
  • The muscle strands in the lining become stretched, due to a hen ageing.

Symptoms

  • Protruding red fleshy cloacal lining, occasionally accompanied by bleeding
  • Trauma caused by other hens.

Causes

  • This can be secondary to a variety of conditions (salpingitis/impacted oviduct).
  • Usually caused by straining to pass an overlarge egg or soft-shelled egg.

Guidance

Note that this home remedy is not intended to offer a cure or replace veterinary treatment, but may alleviate symptoms where no professional support is easily available. The suggestions are based on experience gained with our own hens.
  • This is an emergency, immediately separate your hen!
  • Call the British Hen Welfare Trust office (open 9am–5pm Mon–Fri).
  • If the prolapse is walnut-sized or smaller the prolapse may resolve on its own. Spray the area with coloured antiseptic (Figure 1) and leave the hen isolated until the prolapse goes back in.
  • To encourage your hen to stop laying, and give the vent time to recover, remove all pellets and crumble, feeding a mixed corn diet only.

Emergency guidance for out of office hours or having no immediate access to a vet

  • If the prolapse is bigger than a walnut, covered in debris or bleeding, gently wash off any debris in a warm bath of antiseptic (Hibiscrub or Savlon), then spray with antiseptic.
  • Do not continually attempt to push the prolapse back in, this may cause the hen to strain resulting in a bigger prolapse.
  • Try Sudocrem, Preparation H (haemorrhoid cream) or Manuka honey to help the prolapse to shrink down.
  • To encourage your hen to stop laying, and give the vent time to recover, remove all pellets and crumble, feeding a mixed corn diet only.

Prevention

  • Monitor egg laying and be aware of egg sizes being produced.
  • Your vet may recommend a hormonal implant to take the hen off lay.
Figure 1: Hen sprayed with coloured antiseptic
Figure 1: Hen sprayed with coloured antiseptic
Figure 2: A prolapse
Figure 2: A prolapse

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