Cloacal prolapse, also called vent blow-out, is a painful condition that can affect your pet chickens. This condition means that part of your hen's oviduct—the tube within her abdomen that eggs travel through—sticks out of her vent, instead of remaining inside her abdomen where it belongs. Here are four things chicken owners need to know about cloacal prolapse.
What causes cloacal prolapse?
When a hen delivers an egg, it's normal for their vent to prolapse. However, this is just a temporary situation, and soon, the oviduct will retract back inside the body. If this retraction occurs slowly, or doesn't happen at all, cloacal prolapse is the result. There are many different things that can lead to this condition.
Obesity or a poor diet can both lead to cloacal prolapse. Fortunately, these factors can be prevented with with good care. Feed your chickens a nutritious, well-balanced diet that consists of commercial layer feed, vegetables and supplement. This diet should be supplemented with earthworms and other burrowing insects. A good diet isn't enough, though; your chickens also need exercise. Make sure your chickens have room to run around in their pen, and if possible, give them free range of your yard.
Infections may also lead to cloacal prolapse. For example, if your chicken suffers from an oviduct infection, the tissue will swell, which makes it harder for your chicken to pass an egg. They'll need to strain harder to pass the egg through the swollen tissue, which can cause a prolapse. Other infections inside the abdomen, like egg peritonitis, can cause problems for the same reason. If you think your chicken has an infection, seek treatment for her right away, before a prolapse can occur.
What are the signs of cloacal prolapse?
Prolapsed tissue is quite noticeable. You'll see red, swollen tissue sticking out of the affected chicken's vent. The affected chicken's feathers may be fluffed and she may refuse to stand; these are both signs that a chicken isn't feeling well. If you see tissue protruding from a chicken's vent, take her to a vet immediately.
How serious is cloacal prolapse?
Cloacal prolapse is very dangerous for affected chickens. A major worry is that the exposed tissue can attract cannibalism. The other birds in your flock will try to peck at and eat the prolapsed tissue. To prevent this, you'll need to quarantine your injured bird. Keep your injured bird inside a wire cage within the coop; this keeps her safe while still allowing her to socialize with the others.
The prolapsed tissue is susceptible to trauma from the environment, as well. Since the tissue is swollen and protrudes from the vent, it can get caught on objects inside the coop or outside in the pen. Ensure that there are no sharp objects inside the quarantine cage to try to prevent this.
How do vets treat cloacal prolapse?
In mild cases of cloacal prolapse, keeping the area clean may be the only treatment that's required. The tissue will then go back inside the vent on its own. In more serious cases, intervention will be required. Your vet will clean the prolapsed tissue and then gently push it back inside the vent. If the tissue doesn't stay in place on its own, it may need to be stitched in place.
To allow your hen's tissues to heal, you'll need to slow down her egg production. Since light can stimulate egg production, the easiest way to control this is to keep your hen in the dark for 16 hours a day.
If one of your chickens is suffering from cloacal prolapse, take her to a vet immediately. You can visit a site like http://www.1stPetVet.com to get information about a veterinary clinic. Cloacal prolapse is a serious condition, but it can be managed.