Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
When an egg is being laid, the lower part of the hen's reproductive tract temporarily turns inside out, allowing the hen to lay a very clean egg with no fecal contamination. (For more information about the hen's reproductive tract, refer to the article on the Avian Reproductive System—Female). Sometimes the oviduct does not return to the proper position after the egg is laid. This condition is known as prolapse. If other hens notice the prolapse, they are attracted to the moist, glistening texture of the oviduct. They will start picking at the material.
Prevention of prolapse begins with the way that the pullets are raised. The following problems can lead to prolapse:
Prolapse can also occur at peak production as a result of the large demand on the hen's metabolism. The production of large numbers of big eggs, as when a hen is laying double-yolked eggs, weakens the muscles, increasing the amount of time the oviduct is exposed. High-intensity light can make the problem more critical by increasing the visibility of the everted oviduct for other hens in the flock.
The first indication of a prolapse problem is the presence of blood-streaked eggs. Early detection of such eggs may help to prevent further damage.
Take the following precautions to prevent prolapse:
If you have a high incidence of prolapse in the flock, consider using a very low-wattage red bulb. In red light, the birds won't be as attracted to the everted oviducts, reducing damage to the oviducts that are slow to return to the body.