Egg binding is a common reproductive problem that causes the bird to retain the egg in the reproductive tract, unable to expel it naturally.
A serious condition when the egg becomes “stuck” near the cloaca (vent/anus) or inside the reproductive tract of a female bird. Egg binding is common in female pet birds, especially those who may have low calcium levels or are continuous egg layers. Low temperatures can sometimes cause egg binding. Further risks from egg binding include infection and internal tissue damage especially if the egg breaks; if left untreated may cause death.
Females will usually show late term symptoms of end binding. If you suspect egg binding may be the cause always consult your local Avian Vet for advice.
Fluffed up on the bottom of the cage;
Blood or excessive straining;
Excessively wet or unable to pass droppings;
Prolapse or bleeding from the cloaca (vent/anus); and
Abnormal bulging around the cloaca.
If you suspect a female may be egg bound you can try the following methods, especially if the female is a chronic egg-layer or has a history of egg binding.
Place the female inside a hospital cage on a damp towel. Ensure the hospital cage is preheated before placing the bird inside. The stream produced may help the egg pass. If you don’t have a hospital cage, you can quickly construct one yourself using a similar method to the hospital cage.
You will need:
- Medium sized box – large enough to have cold and warm sections;
- Heat Mat or Lamp – Place the heat mat under half of the box. Heat lamps can be clamped or hung over one side of the box. Maintain a temperature of 28-32 degrees Celsius and 60% humidity. Use common sense, high temperatures or faulty equipment may cause a fire;
- Towels – Place a slightly dampened towel on the heated side of the box. This should create some humidity or steam;
- Spark – If possible orally administer a small amount of Vetafarm Spark with a syringe 0.5-1ml at a time. Spark contains carbohydrates and electrolytes to help support birds during times of stress;
- Monitor - Keep a good eye on her throughout the treatment process. If her condition deteriorates contact your avian vet; and
- Warm Bath - If you can safely handle the bird without crushing the bound egg, bath the female in luke warm water. Then place the female into a heated hospital cage or warm place to properly dry.
Hypocalcemia (Low Levels of Calcium)
If a female has low calcium levels Hypocalcaemia may cause the uterine muscles to contract not allowing the female to pass the egg, causing egg binding. Birds that suffer from Hypocalcaemia are more prone to bone fractures and seizures. Read more on Hypocalcemia.
A quality diet and year-round access to calcium like Cuttlebone should help prevent egg binding. If a female is a chronic egg layer she may require additional calcium supplements. Your avian vet can advise on the best method of calcium intake. In some cases, injections may be required.
Foods high in Calcium and safe for birds:
Yoghurt (Small amounts)
*Information offered here is to provide guidance and is not intended to be a substitute for the good advice provided by your own avian vet. When in doubt always consult your own veterinarian.