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What happens to layers when they stop laying~WARNING: GRAPHIC PICS

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by Beekissed, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Sep 12, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    A lash egg is an abnormal ovulation that either doesn't make it to the oviduct and enters the abdominal cavity or it does enter the oviduct but there is no albumen or shell around it all the way down the duct, it's not round, slick and easy to pass so the bird strains and strains to move it along and often cannot due to the nature of the oviduct and the object passing through it.

    You'll often find "leather eggs" under the roosts for much the same reason...these are eggs that have soft, rough textured shells around them, like turtle shells or snake shells but rough in texture. The hen feels like she's having a bowel movement and will often expel these eggs while on the roosts as she strains in the early mornings.

    If the lash egg enters the abdomen, the body will treat it like a foreign body and fluid will start to collect around it. Often infection will set in and results in what is called egg peritonitis, which is a fancy way of saying an infection in the abdomen caused by a foreign body of egg tissue. They also call these lash eggs "egg tumors".

    The hen in that pic was 4 yrs old, which is a huge old age for a production breed but not too bad for other breeds. A production breed rarely makes it past 2 1/2-3 yrs before developing these issues.

    Start looking for when your hen doesn't start to lay in the early spring when all the other birds do and lay at least a few eggs a week on a regular basis. Every hen who is a layer should be laying by the end of March/beginning April in a regular type cycle.

    If she's not laying, she's not going through regular ovulation cycles~be she old or young~and this is a warning sign. Time to cull. Not because you want all the eggs you can get from your flock, but because this bird is a ticking time bomb just waiting for a belly full of misery.

    Another sign a bird is at the end of her regular laying cycles is when she starts to lay double yolks and she never had done so before. This may seem fun to get double yolkers, but it indicates abnormal ovulation to have two eggs released at the same time...if she is young or if she is old, double yolkers are a precursor to problems later on~either with internal laying or prolapse of the uterus from the repeated laying of too large eggs. There's a reason most eggs are within a certain size and shape...because that's what the oviduct is designed to carry.

    Pushing those lash eggs out will also cause prolapse of the uterus...painful, painful condition.
     
  2. Sep 12, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    Oh yikes how awful. I will keep that in mind as time goes on. We have mostly younger birds but I'll keep an eye on my older ladies. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  3. Sep 13, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    For you folks who have hens die but never open up your birds to find out if you can see the reason why, I encourage you to do so if you ever want to learn, really learn, about chickens. I know it's gross and especially if you really liked the chicken, it's hard, but it's worth it if you will ever learn how to prevent illness, suffering, parasites, etc. in your flocks.

    Here's another hen that was kept well past her laying life by my sister, who will NOT kill a chicken, even when they are suffering horribly...she just keeps them for years until predators get them or they die of illness related to aging out of laying. She's had a LOT of birds die over the years and never had a clue as to why, though the descriptions she gives me of the symptoms prior to death, all were preventable by just culling her flock on a regular basis. Oh, she'd try to give them antibiotics and such and sometimes that extended their life a month longer, but eventually the reproductive issues caught up with them again.

    Death is death and all creatures will die~us included~but being able to control the nature of the dying is the gift a human can give their animals. It's called stewardship and it's our responsibility, once taking on the care and life of another creature, to insure they have a good life and a good death.

    This hen had severe reproductive cancer that had spread throughout her abdomen, was attached to all her organs and even the walls of her body cavity. When she arrived here I noticed her comb was purple, she had a massive abdomen and she was gasping for breath, but she died before I could even give her the hand of mercy.

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  4. Sep 13, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    That is horrific. We do not autopsy birds, although we would if we lost multiple at a time. However we do end their misery if we need to, far before their discomfort turns to suffering.

    Are these sorts of things less common in breeds that haven't been "messed with" as much? I mean, it seems counterproductive for chickens as a whole to develop these issues, unless we did it to them by selective breeding...
     
  5. Sep 13, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    As with humans, it's a combination of things...genetics, feed, lifestyle, age. They do seem to be less common in breeds that have not been manipulated as much for high production rates but the bird above was just a Buff Orpington from a hatchery source, not typically considered a production layer.

    I autopsy every bird that dies of unknown causes, particularly my layers. The only time I had multiple deaths in a flock was way back in 2009 or thereabouts, when some hatchery sourced Black Stars and Dominiques just died off the roosts at various times that year...all four seemed to have cardiac issues. The other birds of those breeds/types of the same age I culled later that year, as I didn't want those genetics in the flock. The rest of the birds from that hatchery lived to a ripe old age and laid well for years.

    Usually if I have a layer that dies suddenly, it was off the roost one night, finding her stiff and cold the next morning. All those have been either fatty liver or cardio related, which is pretty common in older layers of hatchery sourced birds, but not so much in younger layers.

    I had a standard bred WR, that had been sent to me by a breeder as a chick, that died of liver problems in her 2nd year, which is WAY too young for that. I'd say that was a genetic problem and not a breed problem, as I've kept WRs from hatchery sources way up to 5-6 yrs of age, laying all the while, without any organ failure issues. Those were all culled at the end of their laying lives, healthy and still going strong.

    I do encourage autopsy of those single deaths, as they can give you an idea of how to prevent such deaths from occurring.

    • Adjusting feed if the bird was storing huge amounts of fat and couldn't pass her eggs.
    • Discovering if she died from a parasite overload or hardware disease is helpful and can help you prevent the same from happening to other birds down the line.
    • Seeing what happens on the inside when a chicken ages out of laying....always helpful and can help you make a plan of flock management that can help prevent untimely deaths or suffering prior to death in older layers.
     
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  6. Sep 13, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    We haven't had many random deaths here, but I can't stomach autopsies. Kudos to those who can! I don't even process birds, DH does that. If I had to do it myself, I would be a vegetarian.
     
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  7. Sep 13, 2017
    FarmerJamie

    FarmerJamie Mr. Sensitive

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    I am out of the chicken business right now, but at least this thread provided some reassurance my rotation plan I had "back then" was on track.

    I am enjoying this discussion.
     
  8. Sep 13, 2017
    baymule

    baymule Sustainability Master

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    That is just so gross Bee! Poor chicken! We slaughter our hens, usually at age 3 years. After the second molt, they just never seem to lay as much as previously, but they still eat as much feed.
     
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  9. Sep 13, 2017
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    I firmly believe that open range foraging helps. They get more exercise, eat a variety and select more of what THEY need. Mine also get fresh fruits & veggies, bread, oyster shells available, fresh water in several places & some supplemental feed in PM. They also clean up from any horse & goat feeds that are left or dropped. My birds scour a couple acres daily...they have favorite places for bugs & worms. Had a lot of little grasshoppers this year.:)
    Then they head to their favorite shady dust bath locations. What a life!

    ETA: I have NEVER opened a chicken & found stuff like that. The last one, wow, that might make me never open another.....Dang!! That is unreal!
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  10. Sep 13, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    I agree! Quality free range, sunshine, clean dusting spots, clean water, exercise and low stress living conditions contribute a lot towards good health....and that's for just about any animal...or human.

    I've never had illness in my flocks and I attribute it to that kind of life, low stocking numbers for the amount of range and coop size, open air coops, and judicious culling of those who would be the most likely to be hosts of parasites and pathogens.

    I don't do quarantines or "biosecurity" measures, but rely heavily on the good immune systems of the resident flock to protect them from environmental pathogens.

    I've never seen anything in my own chickens like I find in the chickens of other flock owners. Most likely because I never let my chickens live after they stop laying for good...too many bad things can result from it.
     

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