The egg-laying process can be painful to most hens. It may not be very severe, however. Young hens are more likely to face a hard time when laying eggs as compared to experienced and older hens. Many factors can make chickens feel pain when laying eggs. This article discusses these factors as well as the egg-laying process.
Any poultry keeper will not want his chicken to get hurt in any way. Keepers will do anything possible for their chickens to be happy, healthy, and safe. However, one thing that they may not have control over is the chicken egg-laying process.
To determine if your chickens are in distress or pain when laying, you first have to understand the egg-laying process and the variables that can cause pain. It is usually a distinct procedure.
Usually, a hen can lay one egg in a day and may not lay at all some days. This schedule is because of their reproductive system. The body of a hen starts creating another egg a few minutes after it has finished laying the last egg. The process usually takes about 26 hours, and the hen may continue laying every day.
The reproductive system of hens is usually very light. They are, therefore, likely to lay very late in the day so that their bodies can start to develop new eggs. They will then stay for a day or even two days without laying before they lay again.
An egg will still be laid even when a male chicken has not fertilized it. However, only fertilized eggs can be hatched.
Formation Of Eggs
The egg-laying process in hens usually starts with the formation of the egg yolk. It is formed and developed in the ovary.
The yolk then moves to the oviduct, where fertilization takes place. As it passes through the oviduct, the egg white and other membranes are added.
The eggshell is usually the last to be formed and takes longer. The last step in the process is muscular contractions which are meant to help push eggs through the vent.
How Long Does The Process Take
The egg formation process takes about 24 hours to 26 hours. Most of the creation will happen during the night. Creating an eggshell consumes the most time in egg development, taking about 20 hours of the process.
A thick, tough, and well-formed shell will help in protecting the egg from any infection, thus keeping safe a developing chick. It will roughly take a day for the whole process to be complete. Naturally, an ordinary hen lays one egg in a day and a half.
Are Chickens In Pain When Laying Eggs
Egg-laying in hens is a normal biological function. There is no proof that hens dislike or enjoy laying eggs. A hen can lay in 5 minutes and even wander and walk after depositing the egg.
Observations Indicating Egg-Laying For Hens is Not Painful
Some hens are humble and more seasoned about the process. They will hide in a very calm place to lay, then stroll away quietly as if they do not want anyone to know they are are the ones that laid it.
Some hens that get habituated to egg production can stroll along and drop an egg in the grass. They will then continue strolling around as if nothing has happened.
As hens get older and experienced, they will know when an egg is on its way and time it ideally. Since they create a sound known as the egg-song, you can easily assume that they enjoy laying.
Observations Indicating That Egg-Laying Can Be Painful For Hens
Some chicken keepers say that egg-laying can be painful depending on the health condition of the hen. It is very natural to feel pain when giving birth, and laying can not be an exception.
The cloaca of a hen has nerves. It can therefore be painful, especially when the hen is laying larger eggs. When the hens are in good health, they can bear this pain. It can be even more painful if they are laying eggs in hot weather.
Young hens laying for the first time may find it painful and uncomfortable to lay. They may show this through indicators such as gasping vocalizations when laying, wheezy, and minor bleeding from their vent.
Egg binding can also occur in chickens. The hen will be in serious peril and will easily display signs of suffering if it happens. Egg binding is caused by various factors, with one being the fact that eggs can be enormous to be laid.
Factors That Make Egg-Laying Painful To Hens
Age of The Hen
It can be very uncomfortable for young chickens to lay eggs. You can notice the suffering in most of them as they may occasionally produce a gasping and wheezy sound as they struggle to lay the egg.
Most of the young chicks will also produce eggs with blood splashes. You can also notice blood droplets from the cloaca, where the egg comes from.
You can also notice blood in the stool of hens if you try to examine them after laying. This is a sign that the passage of the egg was uncomfortable or unpleasant. The discomfort will ease when the hen grows older.
Size of The Egg
In some occurrences, hens may lay eggs that are unusually large. The eggs may be almost two times larger than the normal eggs of that breed.
If the egg is too large, then the hen will likely experience pain and agony when laying it. There are a number of young hens that may lay eggs that have two yolks. This usually occurs when the ovary of a hen discharges two succeeding yolks at the same time. The two yolks end up in one eggshell, thus making it look bigger.
If the eggs are too large for your hen to push them out, then they may become stuck in the reproductive tract. In such occurrences, the hens are more likely to perish if they are not given proper assistance to expel the egg.
The shell of eggs of chickens may end up becoming thinner if they are not provided with enough calcium and the necessary minerals that are required for egg formation. Normal and healthy chicken eggs will pass through the reproductive system of the hen without any incident. Thin-shelled eggs are, however, very fragile and can easily be broken.
Eggs with thin shells can break while inside the reproductive system of the hen. This can scratch the vent and even cause various serious infections if not treated. As a result, hens will more likely feel pain when laying eggs.
A Hen Being Egg-Bound
Egg-bound refers to a situation where an egg physically gets stuck inside the reproductive system of the hen. It can be very painful when a chicken gets egg-bound.
The hen will show clear signs of discomfort and pain when she is egg-bound. On most occasions, the hen will find it difficult to breathe and may not eat as well. She will also be generally weak. If it is not treated on time, it can be fatal to the chicken.
Egg-bound is not common in many chicken breeds. However, bad health can make a hen become egg-bound. You should therefore give your chickens a proper diet and provide them with enough space for physical exercise.
The Egg Song
The egg song refers to the noises made by chickens after laying eggs. There are a number of beliefs as to why hens make noise after they have laid eggs.
- The egg song is meant to celebrate a good job done by the hen. Chicken keepers believe that hens become so proud after laying that they can not keep quiet.
- It confuses the predators. It is believed that chickens make the noise to draw the attention of any predator on them and not on the eggs laid.
- They are calling the rest of the birds in the flock to come back. The egg song is meant to inform the rest of the flock that a hen is done with the deed and they can return. Hens are primate creatures and will therefore want to lay eggs without being bothered.
Several chicken keepers have come up with other different meanings for the egg song. However, the majority agree that the exact meaning may not be known. There are other noises made by hens when laying that signify pain and distress.
Helping Your Hen To Be Comfortable When Laying
Hens will always want to lay eggs in quiet places. When they are about to lay, you should provide them with comfortable and private laying areas. Most backyard chickens will want to hide their eggs when laying. You must ensure that your hens are in good health all the time. Sick birds are likely to experience pain when laying eggs.
Your chickens must also be provided with a good diet rich in calcium and other minerals that are essential in the egg formation process. This will ensure that the eggshells are strong enough and do not break during egg-laying, thus causing pain to the hen.
Egg-laying is a normal biological process among most hens. Young hens are likely to experience discomfort when laying but will become unaffected as they age and their bodies get used to it.
Unexpected circumstances and various health issues may sometimes arise and cause agony and discomfort when laying. You must therefore monitor your hens during egg-laying seasons and ensure that they stay healthy.