Recognizing Chronic Egg-laying*

Many pet birds that lay too many eggs become sick. The most common species with chronic egg-laying disorders are canaries, Gouldian finches, zebra finches, budgies, cockatiels, small conures, cockatoos, and macaws, although any species may be affected.

   The clutch size varies depending not only on the family of bird, but also on the species (see expected clutch sizes for common species). For some hens, it is not unusual to double-clutch or triple-clutch in a year, while in other birds it is extremely rare to produce more than a single clutch. This variation in egg output by family and species makes it difficult to know when too many eggs are being produced in too short a time. In general, you have to know the breeding particulars of a species in order to recognize excessive egg-laying.



What is Chronic Egg-laying?*

Egg-laying is excessive when a hen:

•  continues to produce eggs after reaching the upper end of the reported clutch size.

•  starts to lay more eggs several days after the first clutch is finished and before the first clutch’s last egg would have hatched.

•  lays one or more eggs outside of the normal breeding season, particularly if the eggs are laid at irregular intervals.

•   is producing eggs with one or more of the following: thin shells, abnormal coloring, undersized, oversized or misshapen.   – is steadily showing signs of illness (loss of appetite, labored breathing, change in stools, fluffed appearance, lethargy, unsteady posture, sleeping a lot on the nest rather than being watchful, or spending a lot of time on the bottom of the cage).

*Adapted from Excessive Egg-laying by Kevin Wright, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Reptiles & Amphibians), unpublished.