Egg Binding and Cronic Egg Laying - Part 1

yellow collard mini macaw

Over the past several months people have been emailing us about their hen suddenly appearing with eggs out of the blue with no mate around or their hen has binding and excessively laying issues. We have decided to do an in depth look into these problems and help all understand the issues and problems that we and our birds face.
Life is a miracle of nature never fully understood but an egg is even more miraculous.  Imagine a small self contained package with a life growing inside having all it needs to grow and survive to birth, how wondrous! Remember our birds are only a few generations from the wild and many of their instincts are intact, especially breeding. This amazing feat achieved by your parrot is controlled by many factors in their environment such as, food, real or perceived mate, and climatic conditions. Since you the owner control the birds environment, you can help control some of the instinctual urges of laying.
One of the most important things we must learn first is how to tell if little molly is pregnant. This is critical so you can begin to adjust diet and environment. If you are intentionally breeding you would have begun this process before now but, if it was an unexpected pregnancy you need to start preparing as soon as possible.
   Usually birds do not store up their poop and when it flows natural it has little to no odor. However, that does not mean that a bird can’t store it up if they want to. When a hen becomes pregnant most will begin making a nest right away so they have a place for their clutch. While building the nest the hen will hold back their poop so as not to get their nest dirty or contaminated with germs. You may not notice this at first, even birds who don’t start their nest may do this, yet you can tell once they go. When you check their poop it will be odorous, very loose and discolored.  The bad smell will be from bacteria and yeast growing in the poop that was held in, this is a sure sign of pregnancy.
Chronic egg laying and becoming pregnant without a male can happen to any parrot but is more common among smaller birds such as budgies, lovebirds and cockatiels. I’ve had people tell me of their older macaw or cockatoo laying an egg for the first time and not knowing what to do about it. Also, many worry about egg binding in an unexpected pregnancy or with an inexperienced hen.

 

Egg Binding and Cronic Egg Laying - Part 2

Chronic egg laying and becoming pregnant without a male can happen to any parrot but is more common among smaller birds such as budgies, lovebirds and cockatiels. So, what are Chronic Egg Laying and Egg Binding?
Chronic egg laying often occurs without a bird mate present and out of their regular breeding season. Chronic egg laying is the laying of large clutches of eggs or continually laying clutches. The problem is such egg production depletes the nutrients from your hen. This continued laying drains the hen of calcium and protein, the calcium in the bones is drained to use for shell production and the bones become brittle.
Egg Binding is also caused by low calcium levels. Because a lot of calcium is needed to create the shell, the whole body becomes drained of calcium. The uterine also requires calcium to stimulate the contractions needed to pass the egg. When those levels are low the hen is at high risk of egg binding. Also, when Chronic egg laying produces eggs with no shell or the shells are deformed, chances of egg binding will increase. The inability to quickly pass an egg could lead the death of the hen. Do not hesitate to take your hen to your avian vet for assistance. 
As you can see prevention of excessive laying and egg binding are important to your hen's well being. There are two ways to prevent danger to your hen. The first is controlling the environment of your bird so they don't cycle into breeding season. Second, is to maintain a healthy and nutritious lifestyle for the hen so as to decrease the likelihood of egg binding. It is a balance of these to controls that will lead to a long and fulfilling life for your hen.
Next month we will discuss how to use these controls of environment and nutrition to decrease egg laying and egg binding.

Egg Binding and Chronic Egg Laying-Part 3

Many times people forget that our parrots are just a few generations from the wild and their instincts still dominate their behavior. Most birds are flock birds and are very social, so if you do not have more than one bird it is your responsibility to spend time interacting with the bird. 
          Excessive egg laying and egg binding are generally instinctual and are controlled primarily by environment and nutrition. We will discuss both of these factors, first, how to create a more balanced environment and then how to provide for the nutritional needs of your laying hen. These steps will generally help to curb cronic laying and prevent egg binding.
          When we discuss environment we are talking about all aspects of the hens surroundings. The first aspect of the environment that needs to be controlled is the light. Most birds require 10-12 hours of light and it is best to use UV lights which helps with vitamin b-d deficiency. Breeders who wish to encourage laying will slowly increase the light, while decreasing the light will discourage laying. Other environmental factors are important in discouraging laying, taking away any enclosed dark place will help stop the bird from wanting to lay. 
        Removing any materials that can be used for nesting, such as paper, plants or other nesting materials will deny the hen the ability to build a nest. Additionally, any toys that the bird may use as a perceived mate should be removed. Also, one of the factors that create breeding conditions is the abundance of rainfall or baths, so these must be eliminated until the hen stops laying. The availability of abundant fruits and vegetables will also signal the hen into her breeding cycle. You must be careful to create balance for your hen in her environment and it will help keep her from going into the breeding cycle which once triggered releases hormones for the production of eggs.
      Many captive birds will have calcium and vitamin b-d deficiency, it becomes more serious if it is a laying hen. Providing a proper nutrition for you bird is sometimes challenging but a vital part of the birds well being. It is important to provide a source of UV light as it does not penetrate glass windows and is vital to vitamin intake. Also, having many sources of calcium, such as, supplements, cuddlefish and almonds will help with strong bones, muscles and egg production. Additionally, the use of vitamin D-3 will help the bird absorb the calcium better. 
       Another nutritional concern is the intake of fat based vitamins like Vitamin F and Vitamin A. These fat based vitamins help keep the mucus membrane around the vent soft and flexible. This can be one of the causes of egg binding because the vent has no muscle tone from lack of calcium and then the lack of fat based vitamins create a vent that is dry and not pliable. If the bird is trying to pass the egg and the vent is dry, try to rub some vegetable or olive oil around the vent. However, it important to add natural sources of the vitamins by feeding oily seeds such as safflower, sunflower and niger seeds. 
       Remember prevention is always the best cure. Keep your precious pet healthy with nutritional food, a balanced environment, and plenty of mental stimulation through toys and human interaction

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