Veterinary advice should be sought from your local veterinarian before applying any treatment or vaccine. Not sure who to use? Look up veterinarians who specialize in poultry using our directory listing. Find me a Vet

Egg Binding

Egg binding is a common egg-laying associated problem which occurs in female ducks. It is defined as the failure of an egg to pass through the oviduct within a normal period of time. When this happens, it can result in the obstruction of oviposition or cloacal function, due to the presence of the egg in the distal oviduct for longer than it should be.

Clinical Signs of Egg Binding in Ducks

Clinical signs include swollen abdomen, lethargy, constipation (presented as the bird trying to defecate but cannot), fluffed feathers, and lack of egg production.

Diagnosis of Egg Binding in Ducks

Many times your veterinarian can feel the egg when giving your duck a physical exam. However, radiographs are always recommended to help identify soft-shelled eggs or other potential egg abnormalities.

Treatment of Egg Binding in Ducks

Treatment for egg binding varies from case to case.


Not laying eggs
Enlarged abdomen
Decreased appetite
Tail bobbing
Difficulty breathing
Wide-based, penguin-like stance


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiography
  • Ultrasonography - Useful for visualizing non-mineralized eggs which may be present in the oviduct behind a larger, mineralized egg
  • Serum chemistry - Elevated total and ionized calcium, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperglobulie


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Calcium supplementation
prostaglandin F-2 alpha and prostaglandin E
LaparotomyMay be needed in cases where soft-shelled eggs are involved, eggshell fragments are involved, or eggs are adhering to the oviduct or uterus. During egg extraction all shell material must be removed.
Leuprolide acetateGiven as a series of IM injections every 2 weeks for 3 total injections.
Chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
Hormone implants
Reduced Light Exposure - Restrict the amount of time the bird is exposed to light (artificial) or photoperiod (daylight). When birds experience a longer day length, it triggers their bodies to lay eggs. By restricting their exposure to daylight hours or light to no more than 12 hours a day, it can help to minimize reproductive activity. The bird should be in complete darkness at night, for a full 12 hours. This may require blackened curtains to be placed over windows, towel or blanket over the cage and/or turning off any lights within their vicinity.


  • Hormone implants: Used to stop ducks from laying eggs
  • Feed a balanced diet: Female ducks that are actively laying eggs should receive a complete feed that is intended for breeder/laying waterfowl. Don't feed excessive amounts of treats or table scraps as it can offset the proportional balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.
  • If living in areas with acid soil and high rainfall - Lime the ground with slaked lime or calcified seaweed.



Risk Factors

  • Exposure to increased hours of daylight (over 12 hours in a day)
  • Ducks just starting to lay eggs
  • History of irregular laying
  • Frequently passing soft-shelled and/or shell-less eggs
  • Imbalanced diet - feeding ducks' stale feed or excessive amounts of table scraps.
  • Smaller-sized duck breeds
  • Overweight and/or inactive ducks
  • Stress

Case Stories

Also Consider