Egg bound Peahen

An egg bound Peahen is something that most people who keep peafowl will have to deal with at some point. For me it often starts with a phone call from someone saying “My peahen has just died, do you think she was egg bound?”

Well the only way to know this is to open up the now dead peahen and have a look what was going on inside her. Not nice I know but I’ve learned a lot about peafowl from doing this and even recovered eggs which have gone on to hatch.

The forming of an egg before the peahen becomes egg bound
The forming of an egg before the peahen becomes egg bound

By knowing what signs and symptoms to look out for we can address the problem rather than ending up with a dead peahen. Signs that a peahen is egg bound are…her wings will be hanging low, the peahen will sit on the floor or ground, her feathers will be fluffed and she’ll be drowsy or appearing unwell. Sometimes you’ll actually see her strain as if trying to release the egg but more often you’ll notice her tail pumping up and down.

The safest treatment is moist heat, considered the best remedy for egg binding in chickens, but will work for peahens. Put the peahen in a cage or box with a wire floor, place a large flat pan of hot water beneath the cage. Keep topping up the warm water to maintain the supply of steam be careful not to keep it so hot that the steam burns her. Provide some overhead heat from a heat lamp and enclose the whole cage with a blanket or plastic to keep the moisture in. Make sure that the temperature doesn’t get too hot, a thermometer can be used to keep the heat between 90 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh cold water should be available at all times for the peahen to drink.

The peahen should pass the egg in a couple hours with this treatment. If an egg appears the hen will probably have perked up and will be ready to be removed from the cage. If no egg has passed but she seems more active and will eat, you have probably misdiagnosed her and something else is wrong. If she continues to act droopy and ill, give her a few more hours of treatment.

A farm animal vet can give a peahen an injection of calcium gluconate, which will often cause her to pass the egg. Liquid calcium supplement for breeding and growing birds has been found to be very effective as an emergency back up for egg-bound peahens. Application: In water (10-20 mls per litre) or on soft-food 0.1-0.2 mls per 100g bodyweight. Use the lower doses in hard water areas. Pack sizes: 100ml, 250ml, 500ml, 1 litre, 5 litres. Active ingredients: Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Calcium.

A hen that’s truly egg bound will die if she doesn’t pass the egg, usually within 48 hours. Don’t stick things like syringes full of oil up her vent; you’re likely to hurt her and cause infection. Trying to break the egg inside the peahen and extracting the pieces isn’t usually effective either; it’s likely to result in infection and death.

Hope this is of some help to you and if you have anything to add please email me so that I can add it to the site and maybe help other peahens.

Martin Caunce

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