1.What is chronic egg laying?
It is normal for female birds to lay occasional clutches of eggs each year or two. Chronic egg laying occurs when a female bird lays more than the normal number of eggs (this is more than 7 eggs in most species) or more commonly has repeated clutches of eggs, especially in the absence of a mate. Chronic egg laying can deplete the bird's calcium level and cause other nutritional problems.
2. Are certain birds prone to becoming chronic layers?
Cockatiels, lovebirds, and budgerigars. Hand-raised birds who use their owner as mate substitutes commonly develop this problem. However, it can occur in any species of bird.
3. What causes chronic egg laying?
A failure of the bird's hormones to switch off egg laying when it's inappropriate for a bird to be laying. This may be due to:
· inappropriate daylength
· stimulation caused by a perceived/real partner or mate, such as their owner or objects in the cage (eg cuddly toys)
· the presence and shredding of nesting material (eg paper)
· high fat diets
· seasonal changes
· diseases associated with the reproductive organs
4. Are there any health problems associated with chronic egg laying?
Chronic egg laying stresses the bird nutritionally. For birds eating a calcium deficient diet, especially all seeds, hypocalcemia (low blood calcium) may result. This can cause egg binding, seizures or death. Prolapses, in which the oviduct is expelled from the body, may also occur.
5. How is egg laying treated at home?
· The bird needs to be on a nutritionally balanced diet at all times. In addition a calcium supplement may be required during the egg laying period.
· Do not remove eggs as they are laid, as this can actually encourage the bird to lay more eggs. Leave the eggs in the cage for 2 weeks.
· Decrease the number of hours the bird is exposed to light. The cage location may also be changed.
· Obtain a mate for the bird and allow the bird to go through a full breeding cycle. This is often the most effective treatment.
6. How is chronic egg laying treated by your veterinarian?
Medical therapy may be needed. GnRH agonist injections (lucrin) can stop egg laying temporarily.
In some cases surgery to remove the uterus may be necessary. Behavioural consults may also help as the owner can gain an understanding of their bird's reason for chronic egg-laying and take steps to prevent it. Ultimately, the cause of the chronic egg laying needs to be removed.
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