Make it stop! My duck won't take a break from laying eggs

austroberta

Songster
Oct 1, 2017
480
657
193
Oakland CA
One of my Welsh Harlequin ducks, Selah, has been laying continuously since July of 2019. She has laid an egg a day since that date and I am concerned that all that egg-laying, without rest, is not good for her body. I've noticed her egg shells are getting thinner and thinner, despite that fact that she is really good at shoveling in her oyster shell calcium. All her sisters have molted and stopped laying as soon as they molted. She hasn't molted and she's still going at it. Is there any way that I can get her to take a break. She's healthy and active, but I think I'll face problems down the line if she does not take a break.
 

Isaac 0

Enabler
5 Years
Jul 19, 2016
24,251
99,035
1,331
Iowa
Excessive egg-laying can result in hypocalcemia, which can also induce other conditions such as egg binding, and osteoporosis; by the sounds of what you've said, due to her laying every day, her calcium supply is diminishing, so the effort to resupply the calcium stores should be more emphasized to better prevent conditions such as egg binding from happening. Unless environmental changes are made, such as reducing light, or inducing broodiness, the only sure way to cease her egg-laying ability would to have either an implant done or a salpingohysterectomy, or administration of a GnRH analog; all ones mentioned having to be performed at a vet office.

For a calcium supplement, you could use calcium gluconate 23% found at your feed store and dose her 1ml daily, or use crush tums, mix it with water, and give her a few drops daily. Offering foods high in vitamin D will help convert the calcium into an absorbable form. Giving her calcium will not decrease her laying, but will help prevent problems from occurring because of her excess laying. If you want to totally stop her egg-laying, you will either need to see a vet or make strict environmental changes.
 

Gkundern

In the Brooder
Jul 12, 2020
60
43
46
I didn't even know I should be concerned about this. I wonder if this is what's wrong with my Luna. She seems so tired lately. I still get two eggs a day but I have 5 hens. I don't know how I could tell who is still laying.
 

CoriM

Crowing
Jun 6, 2019
1,134
2,153
278
What is the definition of excessive egg-laying? My pekins lay an egg almost every day. I'm guessing at least 5-7 a week since they started laying Fall of 2019. I didn't know this was a concern!
 

Isaac 0

Enabler
5 Years
Jul 19, 2016
24,251
99,035
1,331
Iowa
What is the definition of excessive egg-laying? My pekins lay an egg almost every day. I'm guessing at least 5-7 a week since they started laying Fall of 2019. I didn't know this was a concern!

It is hard to determine what "normal" is in a bird that has been bred far from what it's wild would be like. Generally, the term excessive/chronic-egg laying is used in psittaceous birds, such as budgerigars, or cockatiels, when the hen is repeatedly laying eggs (instead of a clutch); overtime this can cause a calcium depletion in her body, which then promotes the onset of other difficulties.

With ducks and most poultry, they have been specifically bred to achieve greater eggs they can produce each year. Frequently, egg production slows down after one year of age, and during winter when the hours of light are low. However, some hens may continue to lay eggs every day; with owners that care less about the health of the bird, and more about the egg, the birds are usually left alone, but over time that can promote some of the conditions mentioned. For the overall health of the hen, it's best to discourage egg-laying, and if not, ensure she has adequate calcium supply in her body.

In short terms, the way we have evolved these birds to be, and lay so many eggs, in time, is not good for their internal health. If your bird's health is a primary concern, some sort of effort put into supporting her daily egg-laying lifestyle, or decrease the number of eggs she lays may help prolong her life.
 

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