Common Egg Layer Health Problems

Raising backyard layer hens is fun and easy, until disaster strikes! In this online guide, you’ll discover some of the basic, common health issues encountered by backyard hobbyists who are raising chickens for fun or for profit.

Egg Binding

This is a problem when a particularly large egg becomes lodged in the hen’s vent. This problem is not very serious at first, but a hen can be hurt if the situation is not fixed immediately.

Simply lubricate your finger and insert it into the hen’s vent (or ask someone else who has done it before). Gently squeeze/massage the hen’s abdomen, easing the egg out with a slow, steady pressure. If the egg refuses to come out, you should carefully break the egg and remove it piece by piece. This may take a while, but don’t become impatient.

Be careful not to harm hen’s delicate innards with the sharp broken eggshell pieces. After the hen’s vent is cleared, you should clean it if the hen’s insides have been lacerated.


This occurs when the pink tissue from inside a hen’s vent is pushed to the outside, maybe after an unusually large egg was laid. Carefully push the tissue back into the hen and apply hemorrhoidal cream. Isolating the hen while she’s healing might help, especially since exposed wounds can tempt other chickens to peck at her.


Cannibalism is the term defined by when the hens peck (and perhaps eat) each other, often killing the chickens lowest in the pecking order.

The cause of cannibalism is debated, but giving the chickens adequate space, food, water, and light seems to ward of the problem. Making sure that proper nutrition is accounted for also seems to help, since cannibalism is sometimes started when the chickens eat each other to gain protein and other vitamins.


Common pests include mites, ticks, and fleas. They’re an often pesky problems that arise in unsanitary conditions.

The parasites attach themselves to the hens and slowly suck of the chicken’s blood, also eating away at the feathers and skin. A large infestation usually alerts the farmer of very unsanitary conditions, and results in the hens being stressed and even dying. The parasites may have been transferred to your flock from dogs, cats, or other “carriers”.

You should dust perches, feeding troughs, and other articles used by chickens with insecticide. After spreading the poison, wash the coop thoroughly and ventilate it well.


One of the biggest problems that attract rats and mice is leftover feed lying around in the open. Not only do the rodents eat wasted food and spread disease, but they may also eat chicks, young chickens, bantams, and harm larger breeds as well.

Cleanup well, seal bins of food (elevating off the ground may help), and remove piles of debris which might serve as breeding grounds to the rodents.

Trapping and poisoning also works, as long as the poison is out of the reach of chickens, pets and young children.

Additional offline book resources:

1. Feeding Poultry: The Classic Guide to Poultry Nutrition for Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, Geese, Gamebirds, and Pigeons
2. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens
3. University of California: Feeding Chickens

One Response to “Common Egg Layer Health Problems”

  1. susan May 20, 2012 10:42 am #

    why is my rooster pcking all his feathers off?

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