Causes and Prevention of Prolapse in Layers

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Prolapse (pickout) is the turning inside out of the oviduct and rectal organs through the vent, to the extent of not retracting back. Its occurrence may results in death. Its discovery in time will assist in the reposition of the organs back to their normal position using the hand.

prolapse in chickenWhat Causes Prolapse in Chickens?

Following is a summary of conditions where prolapse related problems are most likely to occur.

  • Overweight or underweight birds: Overweight birds are more susceptible to prolapse as a result of general muscle weakness and larger eggs laying tendency. Too much deposition of fat around reproductive organs exposes birds to prolapse.
  • Unbalanced feed rations: Insufficient calcium in the diet will bring challenges with eggshell formation but can also lead to muscle tone.
  • Reproductive age of the flock of birds: Prolapse occurs likely at the peak of birds’ production and period of peak egg mass, as a result of large demand placed on the birds’ metabolism.
  • Double-yolked eggs laying: The excessive size of these eggs will stretch and possibly weaken cloacal muscles.
  • High light intensity: Under high light intensity conditions, birds are more likely to see and be attracted to the everted oviduct and thus pecking occurs and cause damage.
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How to Prevent Prolapse in Chickens?

The key to preventing prolapse is good management; and if good management is promptly applied, the effect of prolapse will be minimized, especially when syndrome begins to appear.

Major percentage of death recorded during the incidence of pickout/prolapse as ascribed to prolapse is not true. The death is as a result of cannibalism among pullets through picking/pecking at the slightly inverted vent of another pullet when laying, till she loses blood or when the intestines have been damaged.

The sign observed during prolapse problem is the presence of blood-streaked eggs. As stated above, careful and serious management will reduce the rate of prolapse as well as most other health problems in the flock.

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Isolation of affected birds should be done if possible to prevent further damage.

Note the following:

  • Photostimulation should occur when the birds reach the weight and age recommended by the breeder.
  • Balanced feed rations are required to sustain egg production and maintain body weight at recommended levels.
  • Ensure that light intensity in the pen house is at the breeder recommended level. Look into reducing the light intensity by covering windows, or replacing bulbs with lower watt bulbs.
  • If the flock is laying a lot (more than 4%) double-yolked eggs, gently restrict feed intake.
  • Birds should be watched to observe vent-pecking behaviour, and isolate such from the flock.
  • Consider a very low wattage red-colored bulb. If birds cannot differentiate the color of the everted shell gland from the background of colors, they won’t be susceptible to cause damage.
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The truth about prolapse is that, it is the performing (laying) birds that dies. Prolapse is not observed in non-laying (non-performing) birds. It is those birds laying well that are always die. Consequently, the more the number of deaths recorded, the more the economic losses. Poultry farmers should give adequate attention to the feeds they give to their birds to avert the repercussion of prolapse in their poultry flocks.

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