Penny, 2 ½ – 3 year old Easter Egger Hen, History of Chronic Vent Gleet

Jessica was given eight hens and two roosters about seven months ago. They were quarantined for 30 days before being introduced to her flock that free ranged on 14 acres. All the new birds were given Ivermectin for worms and treated for scaly leg mites. She noticed one hen had a case of vent gleet, which was treated topically with Monistat. Penny appeared to get better, but a few months later the vent gleet came back. Treatment with Monistat cleared it temporarily, only for it to reappear again.

In other regards she seemed normal: eating, drinking and active within the flock. She was an intermittent layer and probably hadn’t laid for a while. When you have a flock of 35 birds it’s difficult to keep track of who is laying or not.

As is often the case, when you’re busy for a few days something goes sideways or someone goes downhill. Jessica had been away from home working when her husband noticed Penny wasn’t quite herself. Two days later they found her laying on her side and barely breathing. After closer inspection, Jessica noticed Penny’s abdomen was hard and what looked like an opening in the skin near her vent. Jessica decided to euthanize her due to the severity of her condition and did a necropsy to confirm what was going on.  

What she found was pretty dramatic: Penny had a severe bacterial infection of her reproductive system. Her shell gland and parts of her oviduct were full of rancid smelling, cheesy pus.

I cannot believe that she didn’t pass sooner. This is my first time dealing with Salpingitis and I never picked up on her abdomen getting bigger. I obviously will know for the future what to look for, but this is an FYI to those who have hens with chronic vent gleet. – Jessica

To view Jessica’s full video of the necropsy and her findings click here.

Salpingitis may be the result of a number of different issues – vent gleet being one of them. Penny came to Jessica with mites and was not in the best condition. The stress of integrating into a new flock and other health issues can make a bird more vulnerable to various pathogens. The longterm inflammation in her vent and reproductive system became a medium for a bacterial infection in the oviduct. Penny never passed a ‘lash egg’. Her oviduct and shell gland were full of cheesy pus that became walled off and too large to pass, filling her abdominal cavity.

Jessica works at a Surgical Tech and is trained to assist in surgeries. Her husband, who acted as videographer, was a good sport but had a restrain himself from getting sick. Kudos to him because now we have documentation of Penny’s case.

Many thanks to Jessica Van Wyen for her story, video and photos. All material used with permission.

What Is Vent Gleet?

Vent gleet can be caused by a number of stressors that alter the pH levels of the cloaca: fungi, protozoa, parasites, yeast, bacteria, contaminated food or water, intestinal or external parasites, bowel infection, hormone-related uterine issues, nutritional deficiency or stress associated with predator attack, injury or moving to a new flock.

Whatever the origin, stress can weaken the tone and function of cloaca, allowing poop and urine to mix together, preventing the normal recycling of water back into the bowel. Stress also increases pH levels, making the entire cloaca, rectum and uterus vulnerable to infection. Indicators of increased pH levels within the cloaca are larger, more watery poop and vent gleet. Read more.

What Is Salpingitis?

Some of you may have heard the term ‘lash egg’ which is a bit of a misnomer because technically it’s not an egg. The correct name is salpingitis, an inflammation of the oviduct, which can occur in various species, including people.

It’s a common condition in chickens, especially among factory-farmed birds who lay large numbers of eggs. High-producing hens tend to have more relaxed egg laying muscles, which may allow fecal bacteria to migrate up the oviduct. Sometimes it’s a result of respiratory infections that move down into the oviduct. Salpingitis is often associated with mycoplasma and bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella. An early infection might have been the result of damage from egg binding.

All the components of unlaid eggs accumulate and fester in the oviduct, filling it with a smelly, rotting mass. The telltale diagnostic clincher is the production of a ‘lash egg’: the passing of an egg-shaped mass of hardened pus, tissues and bits of unlaid eggs. If the hen is unable to pass the mass it will continue to accumulate material and may affect her ability to breathe. Read more.

Featured Photo: Backyard Chickens

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