Is it painful for chickens to lay eggs?


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Chickens sometimes make noise as they lay their eggs, and farmers refer to it as their “egg song.” The exact reason behind this “song” while a chicken is laying their egg is not completely understood. However, chickens will also make noises while laying their eggs.

Is it painful for chickens to lay eggs? It can be painful for chickens to lay eggs, especially if they are younger or the egg is larger than normal. Sometimes, chickens will wheeze and make other distressed noises due to pain and discomfort. While not as grueling as human childbirth, chickens can suffer as they leg their eggs, and the process can even lead to a bit of bleeding.

In order to first understand what a chicken may feel as it lays its egg, is it key to understand the process of the egg’s growth and laying. To learn more about this process, please read on.

 How Does a Chicken Lay Their Egg?

The process is regularly occurring and relatively unimpactful on a chicken’s life until the point of laying the egg. A chicken will first start laying eggs at around 18 and 28 weeks old.

  • First, the yolk is released from the chicken’s ovary and travels through the oviduct.
  • Inside the oviduct, the yolk may become fertilized had the chicken mated.
  • As the yolk travels the oviduct, albumin, the egg white, will be added.
  • The next bits to be added are the membranes and, finally, the shell.
  • Lastly, muscular contractions allow the hen to push the egg through the vent.

The process takes about one day. An average chicken will lay an egg every day-to-day and a half, naturally. Once the egg itself is formed, it typically takes a chicken less than 30 minutes to push it out and start its natural reproductive process again.

The shell is composed of calcium that your chicken eats. If there isn’t enough calcium in their diets, they will leach it straight from their own bones. A malnourished chicken can cause itself serious damage laying eggs without the proper nutrients to form and safely lay their eggs. Make sure to always include extra calcium, especially, in their diet.

Factors to Consider About a Chicken’s Laying Pain

There are two main factors to consider when understanding if your chicken is feeling pain during an egg-laying or not: Their age and the size of the egg.

How Old is Your Chicken? What is the Size of the Egg?
A young chicken, especially one going through its first laying, will be in much more pain than a seasoned chicken. Their bodies haven’t had a chance to stretch and grow more accustomed to the pain and discomfort that comes from growing an egg inside of them and pushing it out. If an egg is larger than what the chicken is used to, it can cause them extra tearing as well as create much more work to push the egg out. Smaller eggs will, of course, be a bit easier to push out compared to normal.
An older chicken may not have the same pains associated with never having gone through a lay before, but other factors may play a part in their pain and discomfort. Any damage suffered from laying extra-large eggs, or just old age symptoms in general, such as tired joints and weaker muscles can increase the strain. Should an egg be far too large, and your chicken isn’t able to push it out, then it can cause the egg to be stuck. Should this happen, the chicken may die if she isn’t assisted in evacuating their egg.

Be sure to keep an eye on your egg layers, so you know their health isn’t suffering. If you notice larger eggs, keep an eye on the chicken producing them to help prevent dangerous complications should one get stuck. Also, be sure to listen for any changes in your chicken’s egg song.

Egg Song

The egg song is what farmers have named the noises chickens to make after laying eggs. This has been studied for years, and there are three popular beliefs regarding the egg song.

  • Egg song is to celebrate a job well done. Several people believe that the chicken is so proud of themselves that they can’t stay quiet about it. They will cluck up a raucous in a giant wave of pride and ego for accomplishing their miraculous task. Some individuals say this belief follows the idea that chickens are prideful animals.
  • The chicken is trying to confuse predators. The idea behind this belief is that chickens are trying to get a predator’s attention on them and not wherever they just laid their egg. It’s a diversion in case the environment isn’t safe for the possible chickens to be hatched. A broody chicken is a bit contradictory for this theory as they will still give their egg song but, true to broody form, they will not leave their eggs but once a day.
  • They are calling out to the rest of the flock to come back. The chicken is telling the other birds that they’ve done the deed, and it is okay to come near. Chickens are naturally private creatures that wish to lay their eggs without being bothered. This theory is based on that fact.

Many experts can come up with additional reasonings, but the majority agree the exact reason for the egg song may never be known for sure. There are other noises you may hear from your chicken as it lays its eggs, and they may also be signs of distress and pain.

Other Signs to Pay Attention

As mentioned, the process of pushing an egg out doesn’t take very long, but it can lead to bleeding, pain, and discomfort. One reason people believe the chicken is in pain more in some cases than others are the noises they may make while pushing an egg.

  • Wheezing may take place if the egg is causing your chicken extra pain or taking more effort to lay. Most commonly, younger chickens make this noise the most, but chickens laying larger than normal eggs are known to wheeze, as well.
  • Distressed Squawks are another sign your chicken is in more pain and discomfort. If your chicken is making distressed noises during a lay and it is abnormal, there could be a complication, and they should be watched carefully but at a distance as chickens don’t like visitors while laying eggs.
  • Insistent clucking similar to their alarm noises. When chickens are laying eggs, and a predator may be near, the chicken may call for help or warn others with insistent alarm sounds while trying to finish their laying. In some cases, this may lead to a predator finding the chicken.

The bleeding can happen for similar reasons a human bleeds during childbirth. Tearing is common in chickens as they push an egg out, especially if it is larger than normal. It can also cause smalls cuts as the egg moves through the oviduct to be pushed out. Typically, a few spots of blood are normal. If there are large amounts of blood, though, you should consider getting a vet to help you assess your chicken.

The Takeaway

Chickens go through a lot to produce eggs near-daily and in a quick amount of time. They can produce eggs in as little as once a day, and it may cause them pain and discomfort to do so. There may be nothing you can do to make it easier on your chicken’s body, but you can make sure they get the nutrients they need, such as calcium. Keep an ear out for abnormal egg song and remember that your chickens may need veterinary help should an extra-large egg become stuck.

April

April has owned and worked with domestic fowl including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, and guineas since 1998. She has a B.S. in Agriculture from Cal Poly in Pomona, CA where she studied genetics, nutrition and reproduction.

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