Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and/or flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet

Cloacal Prolapse

Prolapsed Cloaca

Overview


Cloacal prolapse is defined as the presence of prolapsed cloacal tissue outside of the hen's body. Incidents of cloacal prolapse in hens have been associated with egg laying (excessive straining to lay, presence of an excessively large or abnormal egg), poor nutrition, behavioral problems, infection, and neoplasia (presence of a tumor).

When cloacal prolapse occurs, it is important that it is recognized early, as one of the biggest concerns is the potential damage caused by other flock members, if they notice the exposed tissue. Chickens have a tendency to peck at things that are shiny, new or red in color, such as blood and inflamed tissue.

Clinical Signs

Body tissue protruding outside of the body
Foul-smelling diarrhea

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • A Gram's stain - used to assess clostridial organism overgrowth, if fetid diarrhea is present.

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress.
Keep cleanGently wash the tissue with luke warm, running water and saline solution, followed by an antiseptic rinse. Blot dry with a clean, soft towel.
Moisten tissueApply a lubricant (honey, Prep H, K-Y gel, or activated yeast gel) to the prolapsed tissue using a Q-tip.
If the tissue has not been damaged or potentially contaminatedUsing a fresh pair of gloves, gently push the prolapsed tissue back into the hen's vent.
Place your finger over the vent for 30-60 seconds.
Relocate the hen to a warm, comfortable, isolated area.
Check back in 30 minutes to see whether the prolapsed tissue remains inside the bird. If it has pushed back outside of her body, you will need to take her to your veterinarian, for sutures may be needed in order to decrease the size of the cloacal opening.
If the tissue has been damaged or badly contaminatedCall your veterinarian immediately.
CloacopexyMay be recommended by your veterinarian for hens with recurrent prolapses.

Prevention

  • Regularly check up and monitor health of all flock members
  • Collect eggs daily
  • Provide laying hens with appropriate nests to lay their eggs in quiet seclusion, do not install with brightly lit lights
  • Provide plenty of 'hide' spots for birds to go to get away from other flock members if they want to.
  • Feed chickens a balanced diet, allowing plenty of exercise and regulate diet to prevent hens from overeating.

Prognosis

It depends on how quickly the hen is removed from the rest of the flock, and the severity of the damages

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Risk Factors

  • History of laying large eggs
  • Overweight hens
  • Lack of 'hide' spots for chickens to go to get away from other flock members
  • Brightly lit laying nests or lack of laying nests for hens to go to lay eggs
  • History of injury to the vagina