Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › I need help - egg-laying and vet question

I need help - egg-laying and vet question

Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 284
I have an ameraucana hen who cannot lay a normal egg. She started off ok last year, but her eggs became soft-shelled toward the end of last summer and never got better. I kept her separated from the flock so I could control and supplement her diet for the last six months of last year, until she stopped laying. I waited all winter, hoping her eggs would be back to normal after a few months of rest, but no luck. She's laid two soft shelled eggs, one hideous non-recognizable thing, and another soft-shelled egg, in the last week or two.

***Please, this is not a thread about nutrition or husbandry *** I have already tried all the usual, and some extreme forms of nutritional supplement, so I know it's not her diet, access to calcium or anything else I can control through feeding. This is a defect in her shell-making equipment that doesn't look like it will get better.

I need to know if anyone has any experience or insight into whether or not it is possible and/or practical to perform some procedure on her that would make her unable to lay eggs, permanently, but still allow her to live a normal life otherwise. If this was any other hen I would cull her, but she's the one that jumps into my lap at any opportunity and just wants to be snuggled. I have to give her a chance, but I can't have her continuing to produce non-eggs that make a mess and will lead to egg-eating and other bad habits in the other hens. Plus I fear she will prolapse again - she did twice last year and I don't want to see that happen again.

Thanks -
Cynthia
A former member
Post #: 375
I do not know much about the procedure but it is called Suprelorin, if you want a leg up on research: 'http://www.google.com/search?btnG=1&pws=0&q=chickens+%22Suprelorin%22­
A former member
Post #: 184
This is likely a situation you cannot improve---she has a problem with the reproductive system, and the very complicated process of forming and passing a well developed egg. I have lost 2 hens to retained yolk peritonitis and both initially laid very nice, normal eggs. See my posts from yesterday about my duck and budgie, both being managed for ovary problems. Perhaps the hormone implant I wrote about, that is to be placed in my duck, TicTic, would be a possibility. Dr Teresa Micco in Pt. Vicente Animal Hospital is the vet I am working with---310-265-9500
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 102
Cynthia,

Sorry to hear about your girl. I hope you can find a workable solution since she obviously has some sort of birth defect or genetic disorder. It's pretty crazy to see the situations you and Joyce are dealing with. It makes me think Marty is oh so right about the breeding and changing of the genetics of chickens over the past hundred years. Obviously, they just want birds who lay, lay, lay. I hope there is a way to suppress the hormones, maybe via "birth control" as Susan mentioned. It seems to work on humans who have reproductive issues, anyway.
Please keep us posted, I think a lot of people are interested in being able to prolong a pet chicken's life. Maybe a solution is out there.

If you want, I have a sister in vet school in Pomona. She was going to specialize in feed animals and used to be at UC Davis doing research. I can ask her, if you want, what she thinks of the situation and if she has any recommendations. She grew up with chickens and is very compassionate. She may very well know of someone relatively locally.
Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 285
Thanks to all who answered - very useful information, and thanks Marty for the link. I think this is what I will look into, and yes, Brandi, if you could ask around. I have a local vet I really like who has seen my hens before, so I'll contact him, but I'd like to have a plan B just in case.

I don't think the genetics of production laying are at fault here, but rather color over inner health - she's a "pure" Lavender Ameraucana, and I suspect that in the pursuit of an abnormal coloring the rest of the package gets distorted. Just my gut feeling. But I love the little girl so I'll see what I can do to keep her around.

Thanks again to everyone!
Laura B.
FarmerLaura
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 97
Cynthia, I don't know of any solution to this. Sometimes they are just not right, and there is nothing you can do to change it. It is like woman who cannot bring a pregnancy to term - they may be otherwise heathy and fit, but just cannot hold on to the baby. I have never heard of anything that can make a difference in this kind of situation, but my knowledge is hardly complete, and I tend to cull rather than mess around with problems.

I wish I had a better answer for you.

could you keep her separate from the other hens? That at least would eliminate the risk of making the other birds into egg eaters. With her history of prolapse, I expect that she is not going to be a long-lived chicken, so maybe just treat her like a pet and keep her separate from the others except on supervised visits?
A former member
Post #: 377
Hi Cynthia,

In the 1900s, the average egg producer got 83 eggs per bird per year.* I am guessing, as a business, they would have raised the most productive birds at the time, probably Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds. Today, the number for these breeds is close to 300; for hybrids such as Red Star, it is over 300.

If Ameraucana produced 70 (wild guess), then it has since tripled. Even by the most aggressive estimate, that Ameraucana (and not Leghorns or Rhode Island Reds) produced the 83 eggs, it has since more than doubled.* Selective breeding for more eggs, more fat is rampant across breeds.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Laura. Meat birds or chickens that lay a large number of eggs per year should not be kept as pets. It is simply not practical economically, emotionally, etc. I am guilty of trying to extend their life but am not sure it is ethical from the chicken's viewpoint. If you are out for meat/eggs, then be ready to cull.

Brandi asked about breeds/strains that lay fewer eggs and can be kept as pets, and it is like searching for a needle in a haystack. One of these days....

PS Thank you for bringing up Suprelorin, because according to one of the search results it is also for roosters. It has come up before, "I want to keep my rooster," "can I stop him from crowing," etc. If given before they learn how to crow, it may stop them from crowing. 'http://forum.backyardpoultry.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7968929­

* The 83 number is everywhere, including on egg industry website. For Ameraucana, I calculated 4 per week (see eggzy.net) = 209 per year, for an increase of 151%. See eggzy: here­/here­.
Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 287
I spent 1/2 of last year with her separated from the rest of the flock to prevent egg-eating, but I don't want that to be the norm. If I can find a medical solution that will permanently end her laying, that will let her continue as part of the flock. If there is no medical solution, then I suppose I'll have to cull her. But I'm going to wait to talk to my vet when he gets back into town.
I'll let you all know how it turns out.
Vickie
Spinster_Sister
Hawthorne, CA
Post #: 243
Hi Cynthia, I am sorry to hear of your girl having egg issues. I know my Parsley has a similar issue and now I am just treating with supplements (Nekton MSA) and occasionally liquid Calcium. To get your girl to stop ovulating you can get her Lupron shots OR a hysterectomy. The specialist that my vet referred us to is:

Dr Nemetz at

"The Bird Clinic"
200 South Tustin Street, Suite E
Orange, CA 92866-2322
(714) 633 - 2910

please visit: thebirdclinic.com

I believe they also offer underskin implants for birth control, but you will have to inquire about that further.
Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 288
Thanks for the link, Vickie. Sorry to hear about Parsley. In the meantime, I have an appointment with my vet tomorrow morning - we'll discuss the options. I really hope there's an affordable solution - I'll let you know more later.
- Cynthia
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