Josephine Has Prolapsed Vent/Blow-Out, a.k.a. Are You Sure You Want Backyard Chickens?

We were in the coop on Sunday, checking out the general health of the ladies and doing a bit of preventative treatment for the creepy crawlies that are likely to come our way any day now.  While in there I noticed a protrusion from Josephine's vent.  My heart dropped.  I knew exactly what it was.  Unfortunately, we were going to have to get to work quickly.

First, what is it?
Prolapsed Vent {also known as blow-out} is a condition where the inner tissues of the cloaca protrude from the vent.  It's a very serious condition that can not only result in death from the actual prolapse but if you don't catch it before the other chickens do, the chicken with the prolapse can die from the others picking at it.

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What causes it?
A number of things could contribute to a prolapsed vent including, a chicken starting to lay too early, a chicken who has eggs not forming a hard enough shell {lack of calcium}, therefore straining to pass the egg, not enough exercise/not enough of a chicken run for cooped birds {less muscle development}or being forced to lay beyond their natural cycle.

For Josephine, we believe it was the soft shells.  We provide our girls with dried egg shells when we have them as well as oyster shell all the time but we'd noticed soft eggs for about 1 1/2 weeks and weren't sure who was laying them.  Her eggs are now hard - she layed one yesterday.

What to do?
You've got to push the protruding tissue back in.  First, wash the area with warm water to get it as clean as possible.  With a little petroleum jelly, gently push it back into the vent until it's completely in.  Follow-up with a small amount of witch hazel or hemorrhoid cream.  Apply the witch hazel or cream daily for about a week.

If possible, remove her from the flock to her own cage for a few days.  Unfortunately, she is now prone to this so you'll need to keep an eye on her for her lifetime.

The reason I also titled this post "Are You Sure You Want Backyard Chickens?" is because I don't think people think about the medical issues that can arise when deciding to bring chickens home.  If you aren't prepared to deal with this, an egg-bound hen {you must remove the egg from the chicken without breaking it} or other conditions known to chickens, raising chickens may not be for you.

Chickens are fun, they are easy and they bring us a lot of joy.  However, like any animal, there are going to be injuries and illness that you'll need to treat.  Unlike dogs and cats, it can be difficult and very expensive to find a vet to treat your chicken.  You don't want your chickens unnecessarily suffering so it's imperative to think this through prior to the purchase.

Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:When Will My Chickens Start Laying?
Using Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Health
Supplementing A Chicken's Diet
Chicken Water
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons We Learned Building Our Coop
The Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill Farm
All You Need To Know About Chicken Roosts
All You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes


  1. Poor Josephine. Glad you were able to help her. Assuming responsibility for any creature sure does include some "icky" parts. Hope she can return to her flock soon.

  2. Awww, poor girl! I've read about this before but luckily have never had to deal with it. You are right in pointing out how keeping chickens may not be for everyone. You've got to be able to deal with the hard parts, too!

  3. One of our hens has been having issues with soft shells - one even broke inside of her and we had to take her to the vet a couple weeks ago. I'll be keeping an eye on her vent after reading this post. Thanks!

  4. Thanks so much for writing this post! I do want to have backyard chickens, but I never thought of this before. So thanks so much for pointing it out, it really is something I need to consider! You definitely did my future chickens a favor. ;)

  5. Thanks all - I'm happy this post is helpful to you!

  6. A couple of years ago one of our Bantams had a prolapse and despite all of our efforts she was put down by the vet. That was our first loss and we never will forget her.

  7. All the pics I've seen online of a prolapsed vent don't come near what I witnessed with my Noxie. It wasn't protruding, it was completely out. I jumped online and read what to do-Prep H/put it back in, which I did 4 times. I made her comfortable, isolated her and kept it moist. In less than an hour it appeared that even her intestines had dropped out and she died.


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