Have you noticed your chicken’s vent pulsating? More often than not, this is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. Sometimes this is a sign that there is an underlying health issue, however.
In this article, I’m going to cover what a pulsating vent can mean in my experience and from talking with other chicken owners.
If you have any concerns about your hen’s health, you should always consult an avian vet to err on the side of caution.
Why Is My Chicken’s Vent Pulsating?
I think most backyard chicken owners notice a pulsating vent at one time or another. If you’re giving your hens a check over for lice or any other issues, it's hard not to notice a pulsating vent to be honest.
Here are some of the most common explanations:
It Could Mean Nothing
More often than not, seeing a chicken’s vent pulsating is perfectly normal and it doesn’t mean anything out of the normal is happening.
I’ve read some accounts that a chicken’s (and other birds’) vents pulsate and move in time with their breathing.
Chickens do not have diaphragms, so they do not segregate breathing motions in the same way we do. This often results in their vent vibrating or pulsating as they breathe.
It Could Be a Sign of Being Egg-Bound
A pulsating vent is one of the many signs that a hen may be egg-bound.
I'll cover this in more detail below, but being egg bound essentially means that a hen has an egg ‘stuck’ inside them and can’t pass it out.
This is a potentially life-threatening condition, so you should always consult a vet if you think this is the case.
It Could Be Vent Gleet
Vent gleet is a fungal infection that causes a foul-smelling discharge from the vent.
It's typically easy to diagnose because there will be a yellowish pus-like substance around the vent and caught up in the hen’s feathers.
If it's early stages, however, it might be difficult to spot the infection but the hen’s vent may be pulsating rapidly.
It Could Be a Sign of Another Health Issue
his is always the last thing you want to hear, that it could be a sign of an underlying health issue and you have no idea what it is.
My best advice here to rule this out is to check for any other signs that something might be up with your hen.
If everything else looks perfectly normal, it’s probably as I first said above. Chicken’s vents do move, it’s perfectly normal and doesn’t have to mean something is wrong.
How Do You Know if a Chicken Is Egg Bound?
As mentioned above, one of the most serious conditions a pulsating vent can mean is that your chicken is egg bound.
Being egg-bound or egg binding as it’s also called means your hen has an egg stuck inside her that she is not able to lay for some reason.
Some other symptoms that will help you identify if it is in fact egg binding that’s taking place are:
- Noticing that your chicken hasn't laid an egg in the last 24-hours
- General lethargic behavior and acting and well
- Pumping her tail which is also known as tail bobbing
- Spending a lot of time in her nesting box squatting and straining
In most instances, you will be able to feel the egg by gently inserting two fingers into the vent.
If you do this you have to be very careful as the egg may already be weaker than normal, and breaking it increases the risk of internal infection.
What to Do if You Have an Egg Bound Hen
Ideally, you should seek the help of a qualified veterinarian. Egg Binding is a serious condition, and it can escalate quickly if you don't do something about it.
It is not possible to see professional help, the best thing you can do to help your hen is place her in a warm bath for 10-15 minutes.
That will relax her muscles and rehydrate her vent. You should then take her out of the bath and apply a lubricant like Vaseline around and just inside the vent.
This will help her to pass the egg. You should isolate her from the rest of the flock and keep her in a cage somewhere you can keep an eye on her if possible.
What Is Vent Gleet?
Vent gleet is a fungal infection that is usually easy to identify by its foul smell and the obvious signs of a yellowish or white discharge around the vent.
It's very possible however that it doesn't smell and you can't see the infection, but a chicken's vent will pulsate rapidly nevertheless.
If you've ruled out your hen being egg bound and she looks generally healthy otherwise, keep a close eye over the next few days for any signs of discharge.
I've covered some of the worst-case scenarios to explain why a hen will have a pulsating vent, but do keep in mind that it's nearly always nothing to worry about.
Generally speaking, hen’s vents pulsate. It’s just a normal bodily rhythm that most of us rarely notice but is always happening.
As long as you give them a good check over for any visible signs of being egg bound, lice or infection, as well as generally accessing their condition - you will know if your hen is unwell or not.
Image credits - Photo by Jan Kraus on Unsplash