Friday, August 8, 2014

Today's Bourke Question & Answer on Lone Bourke Hen Laying Eggs

Today's photo of Rosie on four eggs.

There are still many questions and answers to post, but little time. This one came today, so all it takes is a quick copy and paste.


Photo of Fuchsia on eggs.

Hi Gail,
First, thanks for creating this blog! I love reading your posts :)
I'm hoping you might be able to offer some suggestions on how to discourage my beautiful female normal bourke from constantly laying eggs?  My husband and I have had her for a year and a half now and she has never had a mate. We don't intend on getting another bird.
She is such a sweet little character and I honestly don't mind that she lays eggs, but I am concerned for her health. We have taken her to our avian vet and consulted local bird shops, but none of the suggestions seem to deter her.  The vet suggested we remove the eggs as soon as possible (but she continues to lay eggs until she reaches about 4 or 5. The bird shops suggested hard boiling them and putting them back, changing the location of her cage often, and misting her environment with water occasionally to simulate the rainy season?  Nothing seems to work and she is already on her third round this year. 
For the most part she is still behaving normally and will come out to interact a few times a day. She's still eating and drinking normally and does not sit on her eggs at night. We only use newspaper on the bottom of the cage and change it regularly (especially if we've noticed nesting behavior). Unfortunately, she will tear up any new paper we put in and create another nest.
Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated!

C ---

My 7 young Rosy Bourkes in a travel cage and about to go to their buyer.
Hello C ---,

I'm curious where she's laying her eggs. I assume she doesn't have a nest box? That would stimulate egg laying, and isn't necessary for birds unless they are intended to lay. Is she using a seed cup or bowl? If so, remove it and feed her in something very shallow. If she's laying on the floor, that's another matter.

Egg laying is stimulated by sunlight ... longer days in the summer and shorter in the winter. She needs to get less light, whether sunlight or artificial light. Do you have a dark room where she can spend the late afternoon, evenings, etc. Allow her only 8 hours of daylight each day and she should quit laying. That might seem mean ... taking her away from the family; however, producing eggs is physically stressful and continuous egg laying puts her at risk. Have plenty of calcium available for her ... cuttlebone, mineral block, oyster shell. She needs to replenish her reserves.

When hens lay eggs and are allowed to sit on them, that's better for them then taking the eggs away. To do so can cause them to quickly lay another clutch. If she sits are her existing eggs for over 20 days and realizes they won't hatch, that might dissuade her from continuing to lay. She needs to know they are not any good. So, by leaving the eggs with her, she will lay fewer eggs and perhaps educate herself that laying is futile.

Even hens with mates sometimes have to abandon eggs that are infertile. They will typically sit for about 24 or 25 days before giving up (this can vary). I always recommend letting hens abandon their eggs themselves, rather than removing eggs before a hen gives up on them. Hens aren't producing more eggs while they're brooding. Also, they won't see you as the "bad" person who stole their eggs.

If she has eggs now, leave them with her. Let her keep brooding. Eventually, she will quit. Then, do the "dark" days treatment before she can start laying again. If she is in a room where you have the lights on late, that could be stimulating her to lay eggs at any time of the year. She's reacting to a longer day length and needs more hours of darkness.
Best of luck. Hope this helps.
Additional Thoughts:

Two of my Bourke hens are on their third clutch of eggs this year. Typically, I have allowed them to raise two clutches and hatch a third. When the babies in the third clutch are two weeks old, I remove and hand feed them so that I can take the nest boxes down. If I don't do that, the hens will begin laying more eggs before their previous young have all fledged.
This year, I hand fed the first clutches because there were two babies I wanted to keep and wanted to ensure they were very, very tame. Now, I need to decide if I'm going to hand feed their third clutches too. I probably will need to in order to prevent them from laying more eggs...

Young, hand fed Opaline Fallow with Red Eyes.
He was DNA tested and is a male.

Sister of the bird above. She was also DNA tested.
She is an Opaline Fallow Bourke from Rosy parents.

Two hand fed birds in front are promised and will leave us
next week. The Lutino hen in the background is staying.

Peace and Blessings