Binding to Eggs in Birds

Fluffed cockatiel sitting on a ledge.

Female birds of reproductive age are susceptible to the dangerous and occasionally deadly disease known as egg-binding. It may affect any bird, but among domesticated pets, smaller species like finches, parakeets, lovebirds, canaries, and cockatiels are most frequently affected.

Egg-binding basically refers to the condition in which the egg has "stuck" and the bird is unable to evacuate it normally, which, depending on the species, might take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. Owners may confuse the bird's straining to urinate when it tries to pass the egg as a result of this. Your bird will probably act sick, lose its appetite, puff up its feathers, sleep more than usual, and maybe have an enlarged belly. Your bird may struggle to discharge pee and excrement due to the trapped egg.

It's crucial that egg-bound chickens receive immediate medical attention, so owners should be aware of the warning signs and symptoms in their animals. Your bird may grow quite unwell and eventually die if neglected.

What Is Egg-Binding?

The fact that a female bird may still produce eggs while not having any interaction with a male bird surprises a lot of bird owners. However, because these eggs are not fertilized, they cannot develop into a live chick. Even though not every female pet bird will produce eggs, it is still a chance for all of them.

Egg-binding happens when an egg exits the reproductive canal more slowly than usual. Most birds pass an egg within 24 to 48 hours, however the typical duration varies across bird species and even between individual birds. It's possible for your bird to lay a single egg or numerous. An egg can be laid properly by a bird, but successive eggs may develop egg-binding.

The bird's vent, which serves as the entrance for ejecting waste from the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems, may become blocked by the egg. In this instance, a portion of the egg may be visible protruding through the vent.

Higher up the reproductive system, eggs can also bond. The oviduct, the tube from the ovaries to the vent, or the cloaca, the chamber immediately within the vent that gathers waste products from the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems, may both get blocked by an egg. In contrast to mammals, birds only have one shared entrance/exit for these three organ systems.

Symptoms of Egg-Binding in Birds

As long as the sickness is not too advanced, birds may conceal their symptoms. As a weak bird is an obvious target for a predator, this aids in the survival of wild birds but can make it challenging for pet owners to identify sick birds. Early detection of egg-binding symptoms is crucial to your pet's survival. Immediately get in touch with an if you see any of the following signs. The veterinarian can accurately identify your pet's condition and set it up for a quick recovery.

Symptoms

  • Rapid or labored breathing
  • Swelling
  • Fluffed-up feathers
  • Straining
  • Sitting on the cage floor
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden death

Rapid or Labored Breathing

A lot of egg-bound chickens appear to be having trouble breathing, especially after exercise like flying or fluttering around in their cage. Breathing that is even somewhat difficult is a sign of egg-binding.

Swelling

A hen that is unable to pass an egg may appear to have an enlarged belly or to have edema around its vent. Any area of swelling on a bird's body should be examined by a doctor as soon as feasible.

Constipation

If you suspect that a hen may be egg-bound, watch its droppings. You should assume there's a problem if they look abnormal or if it fails to produce any at all.

Fluffed-Up Feathers

Fluffed-up feathers, one of the most typical signs of sickness in birds, can also mean that a bird is egg-bound. Check your bird for any other signs or anomalies if you see it sitting with its feathers fluffed up.

Straining

Egg-bound hens often visibly strain to try and pass their eggs. Egg-binding should be suspected in birds that strain but show no progress in moving their eggs.

Sitting on the Cage Floor

Birds that are egg-bound frequently rest on the floor of their cages. A hen's spine may get severely compressed by eggs, occasionally paralyzing the animal and preventing it from perching.

Lameness

If the stuck egg puts pressure internally on the nerves that go into the bird's legs, it can cause lameness or even an inability to stand.

Loss of Appetite

This is a common symptom of several illnesses, but if you notice your bird is not eating, assess it for other signs of egg-binding.

Sudden Death

Unfortunately, in some cases, the first and only sign that a bird is suffering from egg-binding is the sudden death of the bird.

Causes of Egg-Binding

There are several causes of egg-binding. The most common have to do with the egg itself, the bird's diet, or issues with the hen's reproductive tract.

Sometimes, the egg itself is too large for the hen to pass easily, or is positioned incorrectly inside the reproductive system, making it impossible for the bird to lay the egg normally.

Dietary problems are a frequent contributor to egg binding, especially in calcium-deficient birds. Eggshells that are fragile or only partially formed and more likely to become trapped might result from a deficiency. The uterine and oviduct muscles need calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin D to contract vigorously enough to transport the egg through and out of the hen's reproductive system. Additionally, obese birds are more likely to bond their eggs.

Infections, tumors, or inflammation within the hen's reproductive system can cause swelling that leads to egg-binding.

Diagnosing Egg-Binding in Birds

By gently palpating the hen's belly, your avian veterinarian may frequently identify egg-binding since it is frequently easy to feel the lodged egg within. However, most veterinarians will x-ray the bird in order to see the precise size and placement of the lodged egg. On occasion, an egg becomes caught before the shell has fully developed, which makes it challenging to spot on an x-ray. If your veterinarian thinks this to be the case, they may decide to do an ultrasound, which will reveal even an egg without a shell.

Treatment

The sooner you see a veterinarian for a bird with egg-binding, the better, as the longer you wait, the less chance the bird has of surviving. If the bird is found to be dangerously ill once in the veterinarian's office, shock will be treated. This often entails warming the bird, administering fluids and calcium through an IV into a vein, and occasionally giving the bird more oxygen. These precautions may be sufficient in certain instances to enable the bird to pass the egg on its own.

The veterinarian will examine the egg's location inside the hen if it doesn't pass. The egg may occasionally be massaged out of the cloaca or removed using lubricated cotton swabs if it is present.

It may be required to break the egg while it is still within the hen and remove it in sections if the massage and natural procedures fail to release the egg. If this happens, the veterinarian will use a needle to extract the egg's contents, causing the egg to crack. The veterinarian will then clean the hen's oviduct to get rid of any leftover egg or shell material. Infection or internal tissue damage might result from leaving anything inside the hen.

Prognosis

The majority of birds will survive with prompt care. The outlook is worse if the trapped egg makes it difficult for the hen to breathe or discharge waste and emergency care is not given.

How to Prevent Egg-Binding

It is challenging to totally eliminate egg-binding because it is a prevalent problem. For the sake of your hen, keep up a healthy lifestyle. It's essential to feed your bird a balanced diet that has adequate calcium and to keep it from getting fat. Every day, your bird should have the chance to play and exercise.

However, birds who often lay eggs and have a history of egg-binding may be more susceptible to further occurrences of this dangerous illness. If this is the case, your veterinarian may advise hormone injections at the start of the egg-laying season to stop your bird from laying eggs.

Keeping daily watch on your hens will help you know their habits and be better aware if they are displaying any symptoms of egg-binding.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

CITATION

"Egg Binding in Birds. Long Beach Animal Hospital.", "Hess, L. & Axelson, R. Egg Binding in Birds. VCA Animal Hospitals.", "Chen, S. Egg-Binding in Birds. TexVetPets.org." ;

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