Ruby Has Egg Yolk Peritonitis…Probably.

March 31, 2010 | By | Comments (9)

For the past two days, Ruby—our perkiest Rhode Island Red hen—has suddenly declined. This morning, her abdomen was truly swollen. It seemed to have doubled in size overnight. And her vent was totally caked.  

So, suspecting she might be plagued once again by the pasty butt condition that nearly killed her when she was a chick, I applied warm and soothing towels (thank you for your advice, Amy).  




 She declogged pretty quickly.   

Remembering Amy’s other piece of advice about a potential stuck egg, I massaged her vent a bit with mineral oil. (Plastic gloves come in handy for this.) I also felt her underbelly for possible stuck eggs, and noticed nothing except tight, squishy swelling. Ruby definitely did not like the palpating of her tight, squishy underbelly.  

If not a stuck egg, then what? A wise chicken person on the excellent site had guessed, from the photo I’d posted, that Ruby might have an infection.  

At Adobe Animal Hospital—where Ophelia was relieved of her impacted crop—she was given exactly that diagnosis.  

 First she had an ultrasound. For a chicken! Yes. It showed that Ruby was indeed full of fluid. 



You can’t really see this in my photo below of the ultrasound screen, but I can tell you that there were big dark spaces in her abdomen representing liquid, a serious inflammatory response.


  The vet, Kerri Shandro,  withdrew a syringe of very bright yellow fluid and went off to analyze it.



  Meanwhile, I kept Ruby calm on her towel-covered examining table. To one side of her was a stack of clean cages filled with small dogs, whimpering a little as they recovered from various procedures. To the other, a guinea pig underwent an abscess removal.

  Shandro returned with a probable conclusion: egg yolk peritonitis, which is like appendicitis, only with an egg yolk. In a chicken. Anyway, the yolk somehow escapes the oviduct and bursts inside the abdomen, causing major infection. Possibly it could also be cystitis, or maybe cancer. But that would require some pricey testing off-site, and I declined.

Shandro drained her right then and there. Nearly a cup and a half of liquid came out of that little bird!



Back at the office, I put Ruby back in the coop with her fellow hens—who, fortunately, didn’t seem the least bit interested in pecking her. (Hens will sometimes do this to a weak or injured member of the group—a less-than-charming aspect of the chicken personality.) She’ll be on antibiotics for two weeks.  


I still had to finish my recipe development for the day. Perhaps appropriately, it was an egg dish. 



Alpine egg cloud. 


One does what one must.   



  1. search

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    September 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm
  2. Margo True

    Hi Janice,

    Sorry to only now be seeing this. I do know that one of the hosts on has done this with one of her chickens. However, it takes some know-how…when I asked the vet whether I might tackle the problem on my own should it recur, she advised against it…if you’re not inclined to go to a vet, I’d suggest posting a call for help on (they have a whole thread on chicken illnesses) and you will get a response fairly quickly–they’re terrific that way.

    Best of luck to you.

    October 10, 2010 at 2:31 am
  3. janice fischer

    Hi there animal lovers, i urgently need to know how to pump the fluid out please. thanks

    October 7, 2010 at 1:21 am
  4. Margo True

    Jim, I’m sorry to hear that about chicken Carla. It’s no fun when your birds get sick…best of luck with the rest of the flock!

    May 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm
  5. Jim

    Bad news. The Vet just called…Carla passed away this morning. I’m on my way to get her. I take all the ones that die to a wildlife conservation area close by. Let nature take it’s course.

    May 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm
  6. Jim

    Margo, I have a hen in the “hospital” right now with egg peritonitis. I first thought it was a bound egg. But an x-ray showed not. They kept Carla all weekend, drained 50 cc of fluid from her abdomen, and started her on fluids and antibiotics. I may get to bring her home tommorrow!

    May 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm
  7. bee_friendly

    Thanks for the update–good luck

    April 18, 2010 at 12:07 am
  8. Margo True

    Thank you, Amy, and thanks for your advice. Man, it is not easy feeding antibiotics to a chicken.

    April 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm
  9. Amy

    So great to hear the vet was able to help her! Best wishes for chicken recovery!

    April 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

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