Bird Vet Melbourne

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Reproductive Tract Disease in Chickens


Backyard hens are gaining popularity both as pets and companions. Chickens make a house a household – like in the olden days. Unfortunately, the genetic inbreeding results in chickens laying excessively or an egg a day, even in less than ideal conditions.

Eggs are a brilliant source of protein, but they come at a price. An egg a day can often lead to problems with many chickens developing reproductive disease and many commercial hens dying from reproductive tract disease.


Reproductive tract disease in chickens


What are some of the signs that my chicken may have a reproductive disease?

Unfortunately, chickens hide their disease until it's quite advanced – so look for subtle signs.


  • Loss of body condition - Feel the Keel bone; as muscle mass is lost, it becomes sharper and more prominent.

  • Abdominal fluid builds up from reproductive disease. This can be from physical obstruction in the abdomen as yolks build up or are laid ectopically or miss the Fallopian tube and land up in the abdomen by mistake.

  • They are laying abnormal eggs. Lash eggs initially or eggs with no shell or an odd-looking shell.

  • Not laying eggs, the uterus gets obstructed or the hen gets to sick to lay.

  • Distention of their abdomen (belly) – from multiple egg ovulation in a massive uterus or fluid build-up called ascites.

  • Droppings and urate staining around the vent – due to large pressure in the abdomen.

  • Weakness, Lethargy, hardly moving due to the volume of fluid or egg in the hen-abdomen

  • Increased breathing effort due to obliteration of the air sacs by the sheer mass of the reproductive disease by-products.


Common Reproductive Diseases in Chickens


Three broad categories of Hen-Reproductive-Tract-Disease


Firstly: A massive chicken-uterus with large amounts of egg material building up and eventually filling the uterus and the whole abdomen. This is common and the easiest condition to solve.  We surgically remove the yolk from the uterus and put the hen in a contraceptive for 1 year. Like a human cesarean.


Secondly: Fluid in the abdomen or egg yolk peritonitis. This occurs when an egg follicle leaves the ovary and ‘misses’ the area where it is meant to go which is the Fallopian tube. In the abdomen, the yolk elicits an inflammatory reaction with a lot of fluid build-up.

Thirdly – Chicken -Reproductive cancer The chicken vets commonly see reproductive cancer in many backyard hens.




Diagnosis of reproductive tract disease in hens


That's were and the experience of chicken vet or Melbourne Poultry vet is invaluable. Having seen 100 cases in each category of chicken reproductive tact disease, the diagnosis is often straightforward.

• Examination of your chicken during the chicken vet consultation will often be enough to diagnose the problem.

• Imaging helps confirm Chicken repo disease: Barium x-rays and occasionally chicken -ultrasound or ideally a Chicken CT scan to see the pathology.

• Lab examination of the fluid sample from the abdomen – cytology may help

• Chicken-blood testing to determine how the body is coping

In most cases the chicken vets proceed to treatment of the hen reproductive tract disease without further testing.



Treatments for chickens with Reproductive-tract-disease




For fluid buildup or Egg yolk peritonitis

See you tube How to drain the egg yolk Fluid


1. Medical treatments involve draining off the fluid first. See another video on how to drain the fluid Then injecting a chicken-contraceptive injection to stop further ovulation and a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication

2. Surgical – Doing a chicken cesarean. Just like a cesarean, it involves opening up the uterus and taking out the contents which are dried out yolks. Click On Chicken Cesarean

3. Cancer therapy – chemotherapy for cancer-related to the chicken-reproductive tract is not usually successful and once the cancer has spread – gentle euthanasia is often the best option for the pet.


How can I prevent chicken Reproductive disease?


Giving your pet chicken contraceptives is helpful and appreciated. Hens just lay too much. Choosing a heritage breed that doesn’t lay as often is good. Monitoring your birds closely; and note abnormal eggs, or signs of illness, early and get them seen by the chicken vets.


chicken reproductive tract disease