The Chronic Layer

My pet won't stop laying eggs!

Excessive egg-laying is very common in hens kept as single pets (usually cockatiels). Yes, single hens can and will lay. It can turn into a real problem if you let it.

Step 1
Remove anything that could be causing the hen to lay- Happy Huts, enclosed food dishes, tents, etc.

Step 2
Provide lots of calcium. Excess laying will deplete a henís calcium reserves. This will eventually lead to soft-shelled eggs and very fragile bones. You can provide calcium by offering cuttlebone, mineral block or crushed and baked egg shells. If the case is already advanced you may want to see a vet for a quicker method.

Step 3: First-time Layer
If this is the first occurance you may be able to remove the eggs (usually only a few). Some hens will stop laying after this. If she continues to lay, see Step 4.

Step 4: Habitual Layer
Stop removing the eggs. Most hens have a certain number of eggs they want to lay. If they can't reach this number because the eggs are being removed, they will just keep laying forever (this is how chicken egg production is done). Yes, they can count. Leave the eggs alone and she will complete her clutch and begin to incubate. Incubation normally takes 21 days but because the eggs are not fertile they will not hatch. Eventually she will realize her eggs are duds and will abandon them. At this point you can remove them. Some hens will lay again, others won't. If she does lay again, repeat Step 4. Hopefully she will learn to stop; in the meantime Step 4 will space out the time between laying, which is stressful to hens. If you are using Step 4 and she continues to lay clutch after clutch after clutch you should probably seek veterinary assistance.

For more information please see: Discouraging Breeding Behavior in Pet Birds

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