Winner, Winner, Chicken… Intestine?

Yeah. The thing you felt reading the title of this post? That’s exactly what my Tuesday morning was. Complete with squinch-face and all.

Let’s talk about chicken… shit.

Kind of literally.

When I wrote this post on Sunday– particularly the part about what emergency supplies to have on hand– it occurred to me that in a year I’d never had a real “chicken emergency.” And then Tuesday morning happened. The Nugs ran out of the coop during morning chores, as usual, but the first thing I noted was what can only be described as a “bloody mass” on the rear end of one of my Nuggets.

Turns out that there are some things that are should usually be inside a chicken, that occasionally end up outside a chicken. It’s called a prolapsed vent (the vent is where the egg comes out, the prolapsed part is… well, take a guess.)

I spent two seconds reminding myself that proper farm-girls don’t faint and then jumped in to action. There were some panicked minutes with a chicken bleeding-from-the-rear in my newly refinished bathroom, a couple of chicken baths, and reminding myself that farm life isn’t all about donkey hugs and snuggling chicks but that sometimes you have to manually reinsert part of an intestine into a live chicken. Because, reasons.


My girl has been such a good little Nug throughout all of this. (Apparently chickens like baths.) She sat still through the soaking, cleaning, prepping, and… uh… the part where I had to “maneuver the prolapsed intestine back in to place.” (I would say “use your imagination” but actually? Don’t.)

Unfortunately all of the parts didn’t stay in the proper places for long, but it is significantly better than where it started. She’s been in her own little crate in the house and seems otherwise in good spirits.

She’ll get another bath– and possibly a “chicken nappie” (I’ve been reading British message boards)– in the morning, and I’m really hoping the damage isn’t too extensive and she’ll pull through this.

I’m not going to post “prolapse vent” pictures here, but if you’re interested, here’s one of the “way better” shots, post-bath. Also, if you’re a chicken person and need resources, this is what I’ve been reading:

It has been kind of emotional and stressful, knowing I’ve got exactly zero veterinary or, like, internal medicine related skills, and not wanting my own ignorance to cost me one of my flock. I also know I’ve done the best I can, will continue to do the best for this little Nug, and hope that it’s enough for her to make it through this.

25 Responses

  1. Oh Kit. I was really feeling the weight of the world today but after reading your post and realizing that I didn’t have to be wrist-deep up a chicken’s butt even once today, suddenly my world feels remarkably lighter. Thank you. xxx

  2. Poor little nugget! We also have chicken emergency. A chicken with egg laying problems. It looks like the egg is stuck because her abdomen is very swollen. Poor thing ): We try everything to keep her alive but if the problem isn’t solved on Friday we eat chicken soup in the weekend…

  3. Oh Bummer…the old livestock/deadstock part of the deal. NOT a fun part of the learning curve.

    I’ve got one older hen that might be short for this world and an ‘extra’ rooster that is definitely destined for the crock pot, he’s partitioned off in the coop but must go in time for the new chickies to take up residence come warmer weather. So butchering is the next ‘chicken skill’ for me to accomplish.

    But there’s chickies on the way! Hatching due Sunday….and the cycle of life goes on.

    I hope she pulls thru for you Kit…and if not, wishing you the strength and fortitude to make her end as painless as possible for both of you.

  4. Possibly a trip to the vet is in order. My hazy recollection of this with cats (via reading, thank goodness not an actual event) is that if it doesn’t stay in by itself, a stitch or some may be in order.

  5. Suddenly my day doesn’t seem so bad. Thank you, I think. I hope yours gets better!

  6. Rough morning. Hopefully, she pulls through. We had a Guinea Pig in my agri-science class in High School that prolapsed after giving birth. It was not pretty. I don’t think she made it. Also, I believe Guinea Pigs are very disturbed since I think she also ate her babies. Ewwww.

  7. Hug to the the nug – Could. Not. Do. That.
    Hoping for a speedy recovery.

  8. You need a dog.

    For the sole reason that then you can share my pain of finding said dog tearing into a deer. Only to realize that the deer was still alive. Then figuring out how to put the poor thing out of it’s misery.

    And then, there was the moment of “ugh, I guess this is what a FARM GIRL has to do” when you go back to clean up the tuffs of hair & misc so the dog doesn’t keep snacking.



  9. Oh no! Sending hold-onto-your-innards thoughts to the poor little Nugget =(

    (This, along with so many things, is why I love your blog. I hate the other farm-girl ones that seem to view their birds as personality-less and throughly expendable. You have heart!)

  10. Poor nug! I hope she heals fast! Maybe the presence of little nugs will cheer her up, if they’re anywhere near each other in your house. Give her something to focus on while she recovers.

  11. OMG, I truly have never heard of this and I have had chickens pretty much my whole life until about six years ago. I hope she pulls through! Congrats to Danielle and good luck on her bathroom reno!

  12. You need a warning on posts like this! Since I usually read your blog on my lunch break, I did not have a lunch break today. I had a barf break.

    Hope the nug recovers quickly!

  13. Same thing happened to my chicken, and it totally fixed itself and hasn’t happened since. In the hour or two I waited for my friend to come by and hold her while I put her butt back in, it retracted on its own.

    I still gave her a nice bath.

    I think she was just dehydrated from not getting enough free range time to graze on plants, then got constipated and pushed out more than she meant to. Perhaps you need to feed them more moist foods during the winter time?

  14. Couldn’t help but cringe reading about the “vent”. But a hilarious story nonetheless. Your writing style never fails to put a smile on my face, “because, reasons”. haha. Glad everything worked out but this is one of the main reasons I don’t live on a farm.

    Love baby goats… but that is as far as my animal care would go.

    See you:)

  15. Sorry that your nug is having prolapse problems and I hope she recovers. I just recently got six new chicks and two ducks. I will keep your experience in mind in case it happens to my girls. I’m not squeamish, but I have panic attacks at the thought of my critters suffering – I imagine it hurts me more than them sometimes. If the prolapse happened to my chick I probably would have called my horse vet to come over and give the poor chicken a sedative and then help me fix the prolapse because I’d be afraid of messing up and making it worse.

    By the way, have you ever seen a vet check a colicking horse’s intestines? They put on a glove that goes UP TO THE SHOULDER, insert arm way in horse’s rectum and proceed to feel around the intestines to find blockages or twisting. I saw that quite a few times when I volunteered at the horse rescue and I still find it amazing. Gotta love those vets, they earn every penny. But sometimes you gotta jump in and do it yourself. You go, farm girl.

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