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Salpingitis is an infection and inflammation of the hen’s oviduct. It is one of the most common causes of mortality in adult backyard and commercial laying hens. The infection is most frequently caused by Escherichia coli, and less commonly, Actinobacter, Corynebacterium, Pasteurella, Streptococcus and Salmonella.

Estrogenic activity involved in the process of egg laying facilitates the migration of infectious pathogens from the cloaca to the oviduct. Once the bacteria gains access to the oviduct, it can penetrate the oviduct wall or travel through the open end of the infundibulum, and enter the bird’s abdominal cavity, resulting in peritonitis.

Clinical Manifestations

Salpingitis disrupts the normal functioning of the oviduct, resulting in hens not laying any eggs (although they may continue ovulating internally, which is referred to as “internal laying”), lay erratically, and/or produce abnormal and malformed eggs (such as soft-shelled, shell-less, lash eggs, blood-streaked, decreased size, etc.).

Over time, if the hen continues to lay internally, masses of caseous exudate (egg material) will collect in her abdomen resulting in egg yolk peritonitis and impaction of the oviduct. The accumulation of this material causes abdominal distension and extreme discomfort for the bird (well, imagine if your body was stuffed full of rotting egg material). She will have difficulty walking and will stand in a classic, “penguin-like” posture.

Most common clinical signs include:
  • Laying abnormal or malformed eggs (irregularly shaped, soft shelled, blood-streaked, smaller in size, etc.)
  • Not laying any eggs or irregularly laying
  • Distended abdomen, which feels hard upon palpation. (Advanced stage)
  • Standing with a “penguin-like” posture. (Advanced stage)
  • Difficulty walking or perching. (Advanced stage)

Clinical Signs

Laying abnormal or malformed eggs
Not laying eggs or laying irregularly
Distended abdomen
Standing with a “penguin-like” posture
Difficulty walking or perching


  • Egg laying history
  • Ultrasound
  • Radiographs
  • Coeliotomy (surgery)


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. Call your veterinarian.
SurgeryMost cases require surgery, to remove the accumulated egg material, and usually followed by a salpingohysterectomy (removal of the oviduct). Followed by antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Hormone implantsSuprelorin® (deslorelin) to help stop any future ovulation.



Hormone implants: Suprelorin®,(deslorelin implants) to stop ovulation (egg production) in hens.

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Risk Factors

  • Previous infection with mycoplasma or the infectious bronchitis virus often predispose the hen to developing salpingitis.
  • Chronic egg laying
  • Inappropriate treatment for egg binding

Case Stories