Egg Yolk Peritonitis

Egg Yolk Peritonitis, or EYP, is a sad reality for the majority of commercial laying hens. 

What causes EYP?  Most often happens as the hen gets older as their bodies are wearing out.  The left ovary (right ovary is usually not functional in most birds) beings producing ‘ova’ (yolks).  These pass to the oviduct and  begin transporting them through the rest of the reproductive tract to be expelled as a fully formed egg.   

However in a bird suffering with EYP the yolk instead leaches into the coelomic cavity (the tummy) and then nasty bacteria growth like E. coli grows rapidly.  This becomes an infection which then will spread through the coelum and cause this inflammation (peritonitis). 

What are the Symptoms?   swollen abdomen is the most obvious sign but sometimes hens can get EYP and not get an enlarged abdomen.  Depression, loss of appetite, fluffed feathers, yolk coloured droppings.  Some of EYP symptoms mimic egg binding, so it’s best to know how to check a hen for egg binding to eliminate this first.   

 Treatment?  Very sadly, treatments for EYP are not often successful, as the birds are usually very sick by the time you’ve noticed they need help (they hide all illnesses so they are not pecked on or cast away from their flock).  We have had some success (15% saved) with draining the excess fluid from their abdomen and providing antibiotics.  Pain relief, herbal remedies and drainage can help relieve symptoms and save some hens. For many, they pass on.

The best we can all do when we give forever homes to these sweet souls, is to know what symptoms to look for to help them as soon as possible, give them love & attention & allow their passing to be with their friends & as pain free as possible.

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