What is chronic egg laying?
Continuous or excessive egg laying by a bird outside its normal breeding season and even in the absence of a breeding partner. Many of our companion birds can suffer from this condition, but it tends to affect small parrots such as budgerigars, lovebirds, and some passerines like canaries.
Why is chronic egg laying a problem?
The continuous production of eggs by a female bird leads to a very high metabolic expenditure. If not accompanied by proper nutritional supplementation, it can deplete calcium and protein reserves. These deficits can result in reproductive disorders such as egg retention, dystocia, changes in egg quality, and immunosuppression.
What stimulates egg laying?
In their natural state, females initiate the egg-laying period based on certain stimuli such as the presence of a mate, hours of daylight (photoperiod), rainfall, ambient temperature, access to large quantities of food, or highly caloric foods.
How can we reduce an avian’s egg laying?
Under veterinary supervision, we can help reduce excessive egg production in a female bird by altering the factors that stimulate egg production:
Reducing photoperiod: Offer a maximum of 8 hours of light per day to mimic a decreasing photoperiod more typical of winter when breeding does not naturally occur. During the remaining resting hours, the bird should be free from any light or noise stimuli.
Dietary adjustment: Reduce the caloric intake of the diet. Once the veterinarian confirms that the bird is in good overall condition, begin introducing pellets into the bird’s diet, replacing seed mixes and high-calorie nuts such as sunflower seeds and peanuts. Additionally, it is recommended to supplement with calcium sources like cuttlefish bones, grit, or calcium blocks.
Reducing sexual stimuli: Gradually remove the nest, the presence of a breeding partner, toys like mirrors, and owner’s petting.
Do not remove already laid eggs: Once the laying has occurred, it is better to keep the eggs in the cage for 2-3 weeks. This will block the production of new eggs while the female is not capable of starting another clutch (e.g., a maximum of 4-5 eggs in lovebirds).
How can your veterinarian help?
In many cases, these environmental corrections must be accompanied by hormonal treatment to inhibit the birds’ libido and egg laying. Additionally, in cases of advanced hypocalcemia, injected calcium may be necessary to increase the speed of calcium delivery. The veterinarian may also consider the need for treatment with anti-inflammatories or antibiotics depending on the bird’s overall condition or reproductive system. In some cases, surgical treatment may be considered to remove a poorly positioned or retained egg, or the removal of the oviduct to prevent future excessive egg laying.