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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have a bird (originally rehab but she stayed because she was tame and bonded with another unreleasable bird here) who about a month ago was egg bound. Her initial symptoms were standing with a "hump" in her back and not eating much. On examination, an avian vet was able to palpate an egg right near the vent and thought it would pass normally within a day. Two days went by with nothing happening, at which point the vet manually extracted the egg under anesthesia. A day later, she started passing yolk from a second egg (she was already on antibiotics and I didn't fully realize it was egg yolk at the time), and two days after that she passed a collapsed eggshell.

I've been adding liquid calcium (either Calcivet or calcium gluconate) to their water ever since. (They had had access to red grit before.)

Fast forward to now: She's been displaying typical nesting behaviors for the last week or so. Starting this morning, she's standing with the same hump as before, but I can't feel an egg in her abdomen. She just now passed a dropping that was liquidy with very little feces in it. She doesn't seem interested in eating and sits perched all the time.

I don't know enough about birds to know whether she is developing an egg (if it's not there yet, I don't know why she would be standing with that hump) and this behavior is "normal," or whether I need to rush her to the vet tonight or tomorrow. I think stress is counterproductive, so I don't want to drag her anywhere unless necessary, but I also don't want to take any risks with her.

Help?

Thanks,
Jennifer
 

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Jennifer, I'm probably not the one who should be answering you. :rolleyes:
I personally have never had an egg bound hen, BUT, when most of my hens are getting ready to lay, some of them do sit in the nest bowl for a day or two quite a bit and seem to "look" hunched up to me. I always keep an eye on them and so far (knock on wood) they've laid their egg in a day or so. If the hen has just started showing signs, maybe just keep an eye on her until tomorrow. On the other hand, since she's had this problem before, it may be that laying eggs will always be a problem. So, basically, I'm not sure what to tell you. Hopefully someone else who's actually experienced this will be along shortly. Good luck.
My hens also pass some pretty disgusting looking poops a day or so before they lay, but after both eggs are laid, everything goes back to normal.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Renee,

Thanks for posting; hearing your experience *is* helpful! I'll keep an eye on her through tomorrow.

Jennifer
 

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Jennifer,

Does she have a mate?

I would keep my eye on her, because once they seem to have egg issues it does continue. Make sure to give her the supportive care, call your vet and see if he can give you more recommendations. We usually recommend extra calcium, bathings and/or steam baths, heating pad, and I have had success with putting a drop of olive oil down the throat as well as a drop of colloidal silver, for anti-infection.

You may have to stress her again and take her to the vet, because this can be life threatening. If she is laying eggs regurlarly, you might want to give her a break from the object of her affection, her mate. She needs time to rest and heal and build up her calcium reserves.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Treesa,

She does have a mate (who I originally thought was female but now assume is male, although I have only seen them sitting close to each other and grooming each other rather than engaging in other mating behaviors). So I don't know if the eggs are fertile or not.

They are both young (less than a year old), and the last time around was her first egg (it was fully formed, just rough shelled). They live indoors and I had not been supplementing calcium (only grit), so the avian vet just said to give her extra calcium. I haven't been able to find out exactly *how* much calcium she/they should get, so I've just been following the instructions on the bottle.

I understand that egg binding is life threatening; hence, my concern. However, I've also read that disturbing the hen too much can *result* in egg binding (don't know if this is true), so unless she is truly bound, I don't want to drag her places (and the vet isn't exactly right around the corner).

This morning she was acting more herself and looking better (not standing with a hump), although her poops overnight were very liquidy. She seemed to be looking for a place to nest.

I'll put in a call to the vet to see if she thinks I should bring her in tonight.

Thanks,
Jennifer
 

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I'm glad she is feeling better. If that was her first egg it may be okay then, sometimes hens will have trouble with the first egg. She may not be egg bound, but just keep an eye out. I understand about taking them to the vet, it is stressful.

When she does lay, (if you don't want babies) please replace the egg with a dummy egg so she will incubate it as long as possible, this will also give her time to rebuild her calcium reserve. Don't throw them out as they will start the cycle all over again. They will sit on them approx 18 days or so, and until they get bored with them and start again.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Treesa,

Thanks for all the information. It's so hard for me to know what's "normal" in a pigeon, especially when it comes to egg laying. She's much more alert this morning and looks to feel well, so I would hate to stress her by loading her in a taxi to travel back and forth from an animal hospital in the rainy dark tonight, but I'll see how she is this evening.

I don't understand why she was standing with a hunch all yesterday but not today. The egg isn't where the hunch is (at least I couldn't feel it there). She and her mate have been gathering nesting materials (I gave them some twigs and straws) for over a week now, so I think they've been preparing. Only they most recently decided to use the bathroom sink as their nest (sigh).

After the last egg laying experience, I gave her two dummy eggs in case she wanted to sit on them, but she showed no interest. Maybe she knew they didn't come from her?

Do they really lay eggs about once a month? Jeez.

Thanks again,
Jennifer
 

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Treesa,

Do they really lay eggs about once a month? Jeez.

Thanks again,
Jennifer
Sounds like she is okay, but be expecting an egg about 5 to 10 days after they mate. Then another egg, two days later. If she doesn't lay then she should be examined, especially if she shows chronic signs of hunched back and lethargy.

Once she lays replace the eggs with dummies. Normally when they hatch babies the hen will start another clutch of eggs when the babies are 14 days of age, so if they lay on dummies, they will grow bored with eggs when they don't hatch on the 18th day , some later....some earlier.

I wish my birds would get tired of it and sTOP the whole process altogether, but that wouldn't be normal anyway, not for pigeons...
 

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Sounds like your pigeon is doing better. I told you about how my hens do. I've got a few pairs that are raising some babies for me to give to a friend. One of the hens was doing just what you described. One afternoon I went out and found her sort of hunched sitting in her bowl. I always keep an eye on the hens, just in case.......I even picked her up and she wing slapped me, but I couldn't feel anything wrong. About an hour later I went out to check and she was still in the bowl. Then later than night, she got down and was in the aviary and seemed fine. The next day, she laid an egg. Like I said, I've not yet had a hen that was egg bound, but they can look "funny" a day or so before they lay. So, anyway, I hope that your bird will be just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Freya (hen) seems still like herself this evening. She isn't sitting hunched and she's interested in food and alert. Poops, however, continue to be a runny mess (day two of abnormal poops). Judging from her behavior, I don't think a vet visit tonight is necessary. Does anyone disagree?

Update: she's now sitting on her chosen nest spot, so I'm thinking it would be good not to disturb her much and am hoping an egg will appear soon.

Thanks!
 

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Freya (hen) seems still like herself this evening. She isn't sitting hunched and she's interested in food and alert. Poops, however, continue to be a runny mess (day two of abnormal poops). Judging from her behavior, I don't think a vet visit tonight is necessary. Does anyone disagree?

Update: she's now sitting on her chosen nest spot, so I'm thinking it would be good not to disturb her much and am hoping an egg will appear soon.

Thanks!
No, that is an EGGcelent idea. I would allow her to be warm and comfy and see what tomorrow brings. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Update: There's an egg! I haven't checked that spot until now, so I'm not sure when exactly she laid it.

She's not sitting on it, though. She's sitting next to it but still looks like she's nesting. Is this normal?

Also, the eggshell is rough over parts and there's blood smeared on it. I hope the roughness isn't an indication of calcium deficiency despite her supplementation?
 

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Update: There's an egg! I haven't checked that spot until now, so I'm not sure when exactly she laid it.

She's not sitting on it, though. She's sitting next to it but still looks like she's nesting. Is this normal?

Also, the eggshell is rough over parts and there's blood smeared on it. I hope the roughness isn't an indication of calcium deficiency despite her supplementation?

Yes, that is normal, once the second egg is laid she will commence to incubation with the help of her mate.

If it is rough that is an indication that she still may not have enough calcium yet. Make sure she has access to oyster shell grit 24/7. I know some of my hens had a little blood on their very first egg, but it should not be continuous.
I would continue to keep close eye out with the second.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks, Tressa.

I think she's getting ready to lay the second egg because she's got that hump again and is acting similarly to how she was Thursday. I gave her an individual dose of calcium Thursday and another one today. I don't think I can overcalcify her at this point???

I've got red grit (that I bought from a pigeon supply place). It looks to have oyster shell in that. I'll see if I can get a high-calcium grit today.

Jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Does the second egg always come two days later? She's been standing with a hump today and looks slightly fluffed and tired sometimes. I was thinking if she still seemed that way Sunday, I should take her to a vet, but I'm not sure if I should just give her more time to lay the second egg?
 

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Does the second egg always come two days later? She's been standing with a hump today and looks slightly fluffed and tired sometimes. I was thinking if she still seemed that way Sunday, I should take her to a vet, but I'm not sure if I should just give her more time to lay the second egg?
Yes. The second egg should be laid 48 hours after the first, so it should be today. Keep her cozy and warm, and be looking for her to lay around the same time she laid the first one.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Keep her cozy and warm, and be looking for her to lay around the same time she laid the first one.
I wish I knew when exactly she laid the first egg. It might have been overnight Thursday-Friday, since by Friday morning she was seeming herself again, eating, walking around, etc. (She laid it behind the toilet on white paper, so I might not have seen it initially.)

She's fluffed and not really interested in food today, and in the last 6 hours, there is one dropping with a small amount of watery feces, and 3-4 other droppings with just urine and urates.

The avian vet thinks there must be something wrong with her reproductive tract for that very first egg (that had to be extracted) and this first egg to be rough shelled. She doesn't think a calcium deficiency necessarily causes rough eggs. ? In her opinion, the bird should be "spayed."

I'm trying to decide at what point I should haul her in to be seen. She isn't acting ready to lay because she's still perched rather than in her nest.

Jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks, Tressa. I steamed up the room, and now she's sitting on her nest rather than perched, so hopefully the egg is getting ready to come out! Interestingly, I weighed her, and she seems to be her regular weight. (Wouldn't an egg add weight?)

Also, does anyone have a guideline for how much calcium a pigeon should get daily? I'm unsure just how much to supplement, and they don't really seem to eat the grit (it gets tossed around, but it doesn't seem much is consumed).

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well, I ended up bringing Freya to the vet because she was still fluffed this evening, although she has had periods today where she seemed more herself.

No second egg on palpation, but an x-ray showed a faint mass near her intestines (could be an unshelled egg, but vet couldn't say for sure). Barium x-rays showed an ileus (crop didn't empty after 1.5 hours), so the vet is keeping her to monitor her and give her Reglan and prophylactic Baytril (in case of a soft shelled egg that's causing an infection) and maybe take more x-rays tomorrow. I feel bad about leaving her away from home and away from her mate, but I know the vet will take good care of her (better than I can provide, esp. when I'm away at work tomorrow).

She looked relatively alert and unpuffed at the vet's office. I'm really wondering what the heck is going on with her. Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks,
Jennifer
 
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