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

About poultryOne 36 Articles is the ultimate guide to raising backyard chickens.

8 Comments Posted

  1. i have been getting eggs that have blood on them but don’t notice anything unusual with the chickens…is this also binding? i can’t be out there all the time to fix her…would more grit help this problem

  2. A couple of my older chickens (4 1/2 years old) lay eggs with extra specs of calcium on the inside and out. To protect them from the dog they are in a fenced in area now devoid of growing plants. It’s been very hot and humid. Can anyone tell me what might be going on?

  3. I am not an expert, but I do bivleee chickens cry. I have a rooster who loved his hens in more than just the normal rooster ways. He pecked severely at my son and so was confined where he could still see the hens and get sunshine but could in no way escape. He would sit there and make the saddest sounds ever. He still does from time to time but has accepted his fate and seems happier now. My marans was hurt and she had to be separated so that she would not be harmed while healing. She would cry alone in the coop and the other hens and roosters would come over and do the same. How cool that you are so in touch with your hen’s feelings.

  4. We have boiled eggs and soidlers every sunday morning – husband does them with the girls – and they love it 🙂 – SO do I. I think it was the hen – don’t know quite how, but that’s that:)Have a great day Tina,Axx

  5. I have an Anerican about 18 months old. She stopped laying when the weather got really cold and has never started again. Coop is heated in winter with an infra red lite. Also, my rhode islan red looks pretty shabby on her back, she is laying but sometimes I get a huge egg and recently got a teeny tiny one. They get to roam a fenced yard during the day but always get shut in at nice. They have scratch, pellets and a variety of food. The rooster is a handsome devil and aggressive towards red. Leaves the Americana, sho is white, alone. I need help!

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