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An impacted oviduct is a serious reproductive disorder in hens. Modern commercial layer chicken breeds are highly susceptible to oviduct impactions, as a result of genetic manipulation of their bodies for excessive egg production.
What is an Oviduct?
The female reproductive tract is frequently referred to as the oviduct in birds. The oviduct is a twisted muscular tube-like organ which is made up of five major sections--the infundibulum, magnum, isthmus, shell gland, and vagina. It is where the ovary releases matured ovums (the action of this release is called ovulation). Once released, the ovum travels inside the oviduct and starts to form the other components that make up an egg, such as the albumen (egg white), and egg shell. The total time it takes the hen's body to turn the ovum into an egg, and lay that egg is about 25 to 26 hours. This entire process happens in the oviduct.
Acute and Chronic Impactions
Oviductal impactions can be acute or chronic. Hens with chronic oviductal impactions often have a previous history of an abrupt stop in egg laying for several months or years prior to presentation. An impacted oviduct can often be difficult to diagnose, since the clinical signs are vague and representative of several different reproductive disorders.
What Causes an Oviductal Impaction?
Oviductal impactions occur as a result of accumulation of eggs or egg material within the oviduct, and is often a consequence of chronic salpingitis. They can also be caused by excessive production of albumin or mucin, inspissated egg material in the magnum, or hens which suffer from cystic hyperplasia.
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M Scott Echols, DVM, DAVBP Reproductive Tract Diseases: Getting out of the bind. Proceedings of the NAVC Congress, Orlando Florida (2008)
P Wakenell, DVM, PhD Obstetrics and Reproduction of Backyard Poultry. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Medicine, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1996)