A prolapsed oviduct is when the lower part of a hen’s oviduct turns inside out and is left hanging outside of her vent. This condition is most common in young hens that have started laying too soon but can be inherited in some pure breeds, especially from exhibition lines. Prolapse is caused by the tissue that normally holds the oviduct in place being damaged.
Other birds in the flock will often peck at the prolapse since hens are attracted to the red flesh. This will quickly kill the hen and a hen with a prolapse must be isolated quickly for this reason. The treatment for a small prolapse is to gently push the prolapse back in. To do this, hold the hen with her head down and using a little warmed liquid paraffin or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) gently reinsert the oviduct. Larger prolapses usually require veterinary treatment with antibiotics such as Tylan, a prescription only medication to stop any secondary infection. Generally speaking, hens that have had a serious prolapse will often prolapse again when they lay their next egg, or, if the oviduct is damaged, will not lay again. Often it is kinder to cull a hen that continues to suffer prolapses to prevent other hens in the flock from pecking it, causing considerable pain.
Recently, vets have been experimenting with Suprelorin Implants which stop the hen from laying for a while, preventing further prolapses and hopefully giving her a chance to recover.