REDUCING EGG LAYING IN PARROTS

By Dr Corrie Pinkster  B.V.Sc., MANZCVSc (Avian Health)

Excessive egg laying is a common condition in pet parrots, in particular cockateils. Laying eggs is not a problem, but when a bird is not healthy enough to do so or when they lay an excessive amount of eggs they can become egg bound. When a bird is egg bound she will usually require hospitalization, medication and possibly surgery to remove the bothersome egg. It is important in these birds that we reduce the amount of eggs they lay in the future to prevent a reoccurrence. The main factors to consider are: diet, day length, behaviour, nesting site and presence of eggs.

Diet
• Seed availability in the wild is generally only high during breeding season, so an abundance of seeds in the diet is a stimulus to breed.
Providing a good quality, balanced diet with restricted seed will not only help to reduce laying, but provide better nutrition to keep her healthy and better prepared to lay eggs and fight disease.
• Please refer to our diet sheets for your specific bird species.

Day Length
• In the wild, birds generally breed in spring and summer, a time of increasing day length.
• By covering your pet bird early in the evening – by 6pm - her hormones that stimulate laying will be reduced. As well as reducing mating/egg laying behaviour, this will help to ensure a good night sleep for your parrot, which is very important.

Presence of a mate
• Birds do not need to mate in order to lay eggs. They do usually need to think that they have a partner. Most of the time this will be the owner, but occasionally this will be a toy.
• A lot of the cuddles and physical interaction we enjoy with our birds can be interpreted by them as sexual stimulation, and as such needs to be minimized.
• We recommend that you don’t cuddle or stroke your bird below the neck.
• You should always discourage any mating behaviour – such as regurgitating and rubbing on a person or favourite toy.
• Training basic obedience and trick training is a great way to interact with your bird in a healthier manner.

Nesting Site
• Birds are more likely to lay eggs if they have a nest. This may be a nest or box, newspaper or material at the bottom of a cage.
Do NOT provide any nesting material for a bird if you don’t want her to lay.

Presence of eggs
If your bird does lay eggs, leave them in the cage for the normal incubation period – approximately 3 weeks for most species.
• The presence of eggs in a cage stimulates hormones in your bird which decreases to chances of more eggs.