How To Treat Oviduct Prolapse In A Laying Hen

Oviduct prolapse is a serious emergency, so here's what you can to help your laying hen if this condition occurs and you can't reach a veterinarian.

by Erin Snyder
PHOTO: alter_photo/Adobe Stock

Oviduct prolapse is scary and stressful for backyard flock owners. The thought of your beloved hen’s oviduct sticking out of her cloaca is enough to send shivers up and down your back. While most hens will never experience an oviduct prolapse, it does happen occasionally. Learning to treat this condition could be the difference between life and death for your hen.

There are several things you should know before dealing with a prolapsed oviduct:

  • Always isolate the prolapsed hen to avoid cannibalism.
  • Only treat a prolapsed oviduct at home in emergencies.
  • Always take your hen to see a licensed veterinarian, even if you have successfully pushed the oviduct back in, to ensure she isn’t injured internally.

Emergency Prolapse

Emergency treatment occurs when you realize your hen has prolapsed, and the veterinarian who usually treats your chickens is closed for the night. Every animal hospital you call has no appointments or doesn’t treat chickens, and there is no other way to treat her.

That is what happened when Millicent, my Speckled Sussex hen, laid an egg on the fourth of July and prolapsed. Every vet I called in the area was closed, and all the emergency veterinarian hospitals I called in my home state didn’t have a veterinarian who treated chickens. So, with help from my sister, I gathered everything we needed to treat a prolapsed oviduct at home.

When dealing with a prolapse, you must respond quickly to increase your hen’s survival rate. The longer the oviduct is exposed, the harder it will be for your hen to recover, and increase the chances of contracting an infection and fly strike. Chickens can’t poop when they have a prolapsed oviduct, so a hen suffering from this condition may also have an impacted crop.


Treating an oviduct prolapse requires only a few things that should be in your flock emergency kit:

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  • disposable gloves
  • petroleum jelly or coconut oil
  • granulated sugar

Wearing disposable gloves and holding the hen securely on your lap, clean the exposed oviduct gently with warm water, being careful that no water enters your hen’s cloaca.

Generously sprinkle sugar over the exposed oviduct and let the sugar sit for 15 minutes. The sugar helps to absorb liquid in the prolapse, causing the oviduct to shrink.

Next, wear a clean pair of disposable gloves, coat the gloves and the hen’s cloaca with Vaseline or coconut oil. Carefully gather the exposed oviduct between your fingers and thumb, and gently push the oviduct up the hen’s cloaca until the oviduct has disappeared from view.

In some cases, the oviduct will pop right back out. If this happens, repeat the steps until the prolapse disappears into the hen.

Calling a Vet

Whenever possible, having a vet treat the prolapsed oviduct is the best way to treat your hen and increase her chances of survival. Oviduct prolapses are an emergency life-threatening condition, so when scheduling an appointment for your hen, tell the receptionist that you are dealing with an emergency.

Once your hen has arrived, the veterinarian will diagnose her condition. In some severe cases, the oviduct may have pushed some organs out with it. If this happens, your vet may recommend humanely euthanizing the hen to prevent further suffering.

When only the oviduct is exposed, many veterinarians will apply topical dextrose to the oviduct to decrease the swelling before pushing the oviduct back through the cloaca. Often, a vet will secure the oviduct in place with a few sutures so it doesn’t pop back out.

During this process, your hen will be under anesthesia to ensure she feels no discomfort. Anesthesia can have side effects, so discuss these with your vet before the procedure.


Once the procedure has taken place and your hen’s oviduct is no longer exposed, some vets will hospitalize a prolapsed hen for 24 to 48 hours to ensure no complications, while others will send her right home. If your hen comes home shortly after the procedure, withhold water and food for several hours (even if she is alert) until all effects of the anesthesia have worn off.

Whether your vet hospitalizes your hen or not, there are several things every hen recovering from a prolapse needs.

  • complete isolation from the flock for 14 days
  • antibiotics administered by a vet to fight infections
  • anti-inflammatories administered by your vet to decrease any swelling in the reproductive tract

Check your hen several times daily throughout recovery to make sure the prolapse hasn’t recurred. And be sure to follow any additional instructions your veterinarian may give you.

Feeding Restrictions

Calcium is one of the chief nutrients your hen’s body will need to recover from a prolapse. Feeding a diet of layer feed and no treats for the first 14 days after the prolapse is crucial to help your hen recover. As always, supplement the hen’s diet with free-choice oyster shell.

If the hen is on medication, temporarily withhold herbs or herbal supplements, probiotics or any additional vitamins and minerals unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian.

With the proper care and a trip to the vet, many hens fully recover from an oviduct prolapse and go on to live a happy chicken life.

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