I have had several anxious days with Lulu lately. Last week she laid an egg without a shell while sleeping on her end table. She had been standing up and broken yolk and the rest were spread all over her bedding. She has done this on several previous occasions when she wasn't expected to lay. Lulu has been molting so no eggs were expected. I was worried that the shell hadn't been expelled but later that day she got rid of a crushed very soft shell.
She seemed fine after that and all was back to normal. Then one day earlier this week, she seemed restless and listless. She would climb in and out of her nesting box and spent much time in her kennel. She seemed to move with a more pronounced limp and just didn't look right. Lulu also didn't seem to have an appetite which is very unusual for her.
I did some research on the net and came up with the possibility that she might be egg-bound. She had many of the symptoms that were described. There were a number of suggestions on various sites that I tried. I gave her a warm bath and blew dried her butt. She seemed to like this. It is supposed to help relax her and maybe help her lay. Another site mentioned massaging olive oil around her vent. This was tried and again she did not fuss. We brought in the heat lamp that we used when the chicks were young and hung it in her corner of the kitchen. Lulu stayed under in enjoying the heat. I also sent Barry to the pharmacy for some dissolvable calcium and gave her a dose of that.
The result of all this were several large poops but nothing else. She still didn't perk up much and wasn't too interested in food. The nearest vet is 2 hours away in Kamloops so I got on the phone. Most of the vets had no experience with chickens and I was finally given the number to the large animal clinic. They said they dealt with farm animals but mainly horses and cows. They were very helpful and gave me some phone numbers on the coast for vets that deal with birds.
I called one and the assistant took all the info and then passed me on to the vet. She said to repeat the calcium and instead of olive oil use KY Jelly with finger cots and gently insert some into her vent.
That night was tense because I was so worried about Lulu. I sat up with her for hours while she slept beside me on the couch. I finally went to bed but my sleep was not restful.
The next morning she seemed a bit perkier. She had pooped several times through the night and had an appetite that morning. Another warm bath was given, this time soapy to try to remove the olive oil as her butt feathers hung in a greasy mess. Blow drying and KW Jelly followed.
She seemed much more normal as the day went on - eating, sleeping and chattering normally instead of anxious behaviour. I gave her another dose of calcium and have decided to do this on a regular basis from now on as she has often had softer shells than the other chickens.
I'm now not sure about my diagnosis of her being egg-bound. She did show all the symptoms that day but they have all disappeared without the appearance of an egg. Her back end seems larger than normal but I'm not sure if that is because I'm noticing it more now or if it is actually larger.
Yesterday she even enjoyed a long dirtbath. Since she had been sick, her feathers seemed to have a slight poopy smell to them. Before this, they always had almost no odor to them. After her dustbath, Lulu smelled better and got busy grooming herself. I think she was happy that her butt feathers were now fluffy again instead of so greasy and scraggly.
I'm not sure what to do yet. I'm still not completely at ease with this situation. I am keeping a close eye on her but she seems to be acting quite normally. Lulu and I have to go back to Alberta with Barry when he goes to work so I can pick up my car. (I left it there and rode home with him when I was sick )If I am still concerned, I have the numbers for several vets there that deal with birds. An appointment might be in order to put my mind at ease.
We will see what happens as time goes on.