Vent Prolapse (What to do when your chicken’s butt falls out)

It was a Monday like any other around here, crazy and hectic. When the littlest country kid came inside to tell me that one of the chicken’s butt had something stuck to it, I was neither shocked nor surprised. Of course I didn’t know what he meant, so I sent the oldest country kid out to investigate. They both came back in to report that Ester has a tomato stuck to her butt. What?!?! There was a red thing coming out of her butt. WHAT!?!?! And then my mind snapped in to place and before I even made it out to the yard, I knew Ester was in a bad way. I just knew see had prolapsed, because if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, and the weirdest stuff always happens to us.

I hate when I am right about something bad, and sure as shit, there was Ester with her butt hanging out. Her butt fell out or more technically, she had a prolapsed vent. What is a prolapsed vent? Well basically it happens when a chicken pushes too hard, for whatever reason. More likely than not, it is from pushing too hard when laying. As chickens age, their bodies, much like ours, being to weaken in certain areas. For Ester, her girly parts are getting old and worn out, and she strained too hard laying and POP, out came her inners.

Now if you google the internet about prolapsed vents in chickens, the first thing you will notice, or at least I did, is that a lot of the articles out there seem to be regurgitating the same information, sometimes word for word. I thought plagiarism was something only high school kids did, but I digress. What you will learn from all these articles are two things (and this is in my own words)…..

First, a soft shelled eggs is harder to pass than a properly formed one. Why? Because the muscles in the chicken’s reproductive tract need something to grip onto in order to push it out. Second, hens that are forced to lay too much (aka stimulated in the winter by supplemental lighting) tend to have weakened muscles as they get older. So what was Ester’s issue? Well since we don’t light our coop and she is four years old, I am assuming it was either due to an egg misfire (soft shelled egg) that I have been unable to locate, or she is just aging and had a difficult time pushing one out.

No matter how she came to this point in our day that Monday, upon seeing her, I knew it was BAD. We weren’t talking a little prolapsed, we were talking, “dear god!!!!” prolapsed. I warn you now, this first photo, taken on my cell phone (sorry about the quality) is rather gross. As I sat there in the bathroom, with Ester upside down, wishing like heck that gravity would help her suck it all back in, I knew in my heart, this wasn’t going to happens.

I called our vet, who said there was little they could do beyond attempting to push it back in and giving her a stitch to keep it in. I then called a blogging buddy who has a bunch of chickens and she had never had this happens. Well crap, it looked like I was on my own. Time to throw the big girl panties on and get to work. I have raised chickens off and on for almost two decades now and have NEVER had a prolapsed vent. But what I have learned being around critters is, you do what you can, in the best way you can, and try not to cause any more harm to them then they are already in. *deep breath* So I scrubbed up, gathered my courage, used my fingers, and stuffed her butt gently back inside her. If you have never been knuckle deep in a chicken, you have no idea what I went through, but needless to say, slow and steady was the key. It was all about being gentle and using some common sense.
It took me a few minutes to get all of her inners back inside, and while you could still see them when the vent pulsated, I was delighted with the results. The fact that her inners were back in her, meant the chance of infection dropped way down. Now it was up to her body to put those inners back in the proper place and keep them there! I avoid putting her in a warm bath, even though her bum was nasty because the warm water would have just relaxed her already weak muscles further and I didn’t want to run the risk of the water flushing anything into her vent that might cause infection. 
I had my hubby pick up some Preparation H cream on the way home, which he was none too pleased about. I told him to just inform the cashier it was for his crazy wife’s chicken’s butt. I applied a healthy amount of Preparation H to the outside of her vent and placed her in the hospital pen. Now I know you are sitting there wondering why I would put Preparation H on a chicken with a prolapsed vent, cause we all know it is for hemorrhoids. Well because if it can shrink swollen hemorrhoid tissue, I figured it could tighten her vent area up allowing her body time to put everything back where it belonged. Also it protects the tissue and relieves discomfort, which I know she had after what she and I just went through!
While in the hospital pen, I limited Esters food intake. While she could have all the water she wanted, I didn’t want her trying to have a bowl movement until things were back in place. I also placed a towel over the pen to make it nice and dark in the hopes that less light would mean she would skip a day of laying, thus giving her body more time to rest. Now it was just time to wait to see if her body could fix itself, and when she did finally use her vent, would it all stay inside or would she prolapse again.

Monday came and went, and Ester sat, or should I say she mostly stood, in the hospital pen. Tuesday dawned and her inners were still in her. I began to breathe a little better. Ester was none too pleased with the lack of food or light in her pen, but we managed to get through the day with no movements or egg laying. Each day I put Preparation H on her bum in the morning and at night. Wednesday came, and the oldest country kid (who had been beside himself because Ester is his chicken) informed me upon checking her after breakfast, that there was an egg in the pen. My breath caught in my chest, this was it, make it or break it time, had she prolapsed again? 

If she had prolapsed again, there wasn’t much chance we would ever be able to “fix” her. Informing the oldest country kid that we would have to put his bird down, if she had prolapsed again, made me sick to my stomach. That was a conversation I did NOT want to have. I just kept repeating in my head “please, please, please be alright.”

We got her out, and as I dug through her yucky feathers, I prayed that all was right….. And it was a success!!!! No prolapse!!!! Her inners had stayed in!!! While she certainly needed a spa day to clean up her butt, this could wait another day or so. I didn’t want to relax her muscles and I wanted to return her to the yard as quickly as possible so she could maintain her rank in the pecking order.

I am happy to report, she was welcomed back with open wings by her sisters of the yard. I think she was still a little mad at me for the indignity I put her through, the lack of food and light and the Preparation H because the first thing she did was go scratch in my new Hosta bed. And while she may be a naughty bird for messing with my plants, I am so glad to see her back in the yard where she belongs!

19 thoughts on “Vent Prolapse (What to do when your chicken’s butt falls out)

  1. WOW!! That is quite the story and I hop-e with all my might that I do not have to go through this myself some day. I have one hen who is probably about that age, I will keep an eye on her and remember these wise words and your story Mindie. Thanks again for the chicken coloring book, can't wait to get it!

    1. It was just another crazy day in my crazy world LOL. I am so happy you are excited about winning one of our giveaways. May it bring you hours of relaxation and entertainment.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. Vent prolapse is….. there are just no words. I am so glad we were able to "fix" Ester but I knew as soon as I saw it, it was going to be a tough job.

  2. Thank you for a real life vent prolapse article. I haven't had this happen yet but it is bound to happen since I have had chickens for many years now. I feel better prepared and will add Preparation H to the chicken medical kit! Loved the part about your husband's embarrassment – my husband doesn't have that gene – he once purchased a large bottle of mouthwash and a packet of condoms (just those two items!). I wouldn't stand in line with him 🙂

  3. Congratulations, Doctor. That was quite the feat. I was a poultry leader in 4H many years ago, so I know the feeling. I really can't remember back that far if I ever fixed any or not. But, let me say this, if you think that was bad – have you ever had a cow prolapse? But, thanks to a good vet, we managed to save the cow. She was on the small side, and the vet recommended culling her as he said she would never have a normal calving again. Me (in my stubbornness) did not listen and she got bred again — with a perfectly normal delivery and healthy calf! I can't say that always happens. But, anyway, take care of Ester. At her age, she's definitely not a spring chicken anymore!

    1. I have never had nor would I ever want to deal with a prolapsed cow! That is just way to much inner to try to get back in her on my own!

  4. I didn't know this could happen to chickens – and although I don't keep them myself I found this post so interesting. I'm so glad you were able to help your chicken to get better and that she has lived to lay another day!! I'm really glad you shared this as it may help someone else to save their chickens too. Thank you for being a part of our Hearth and Soul Hop.

    1. I knew it could happen but I never in a million years dreamed it would happen. It is one of those rare things. But we have been getting a lot of rare things here lately. *smacks forehead* I hope no one ever needs this info but if they do, then I did my part to help inform others.

  5. I read this whole article and I don't even have chickens. Brilliant about the Preparation H. Have a great weekend. Linda @Crafts a la mode

  6. I wish I read this a few weeks ago. I lost a silkie due to prolapse. I didn't have a clue about how to fix it. Have watched Doc. Pol enough to know it was a prolapse,but how to fix it??? Now I know, thank you!

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn't always work, when you fix a prolapse, but I wasn't about to give up trying. Ester has since resumed laying regularly with no repeats 🙂

  7. My chicken has a prolapse and it will not stay inside. Is there anything I can do?

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