Common Myths about Chronic Egg-laying*

MYTH: A hen needs a mate in order to produce eggs.
Some species require either the male courtship calls or displays or copulation in order to induce ovulation, but the majority of birds have reproductive cycles cued to the light cycle or photo­period. Single birds that do not have any avian companions make up the majority of birds seen in veterinary clinics with excessive egg-laying issues.

MYTH: A hen needs a nest area in order to lay eggs.
If the hormonal cycle is working, an egg will be produced whether or not there is an appropriate place to lay it. Eggs may be laid anywhere — on the bottom of cages, in food bowls or on stuffed toys. A designed nest area or “sleeper tents,” however, may stimulate egg-laying in birds that are already primed.

MYTH: A hen needs a special diet or extra calcium to lay eggs.
Many birds will produce eggs on startlingly poor diets. Malnourished birds are at higher risk of becoming ill, as the hen’s eggs withdraw vital nutrients. Calcium, fat, vitamin A and trace minerals are rapidly depleted in malnourished birds, which can lead to life-threatening problems.

MYTH: A bird that has never laid eggs is probably a male.
Even DNA sexing is not 100% accurate. The only way to be 100% sure of a bird’s sex is to have the bird surgically sexed via endoscopy.

*Adapted from Excessive Egg-laying by Kevin Wright, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Reptiles & Amphibians), unpublished.

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