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Excessive egg laying

Johnny99

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Hi, I have a female zebra finch paired with a male zebra finch who is blind in one eye (therefore he doesn't mate with her). The female has been laying eggs ever since we got her, and nothing we tried stopped it. She was laying eggs even when she was alone in a cage without a nest. She lays a clutch of 5-6 eggs, then after a period of time she would eat them. A couple days pass and she's back to laying again. what the flock am I supposed to do? I had one zebra finch die due to prolapse, and another due to a tumor related to egg laying. I feel like I'm gonna have PTSD soon... I don't want her to die.
 

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Johnny99

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When I'd see her being tired/fluffy throughout the day, I would often put a nest in the cage in case she was about to lay an egg so it would be easier for her than laying an egg while having to stand on a perch. But I'm not sure if that was doing any good. She also used to lay eggs in her feeders so I swapped them out for different ones where she can't sit, then she stopped.
 

fashionfobie

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I would remove any resemblance of a nest for the first step. You may need to change your feeding dishes too if she starts using them. You are right, you don't want her to over lay. Let us know how she goes. I would also ensure you are offering a water soluble shell grit to help her get more calcium in her diet.
 

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Unfortunately, zebra finches are genetically predisposed to excessive laying. It can be very difficult to get them to stop, even when you do all the right things. If she is still laying even after all nests or nest-like objects have been removed, you could try using dummy eggs to discourage constant laying.

Most birds will naturally stop laying when they get a full clutch of eggs as they switch their focus to incubating the eggs. Since she is a solo bird, you could let her sit on her own infertile eggs. Or even better, buy some appropriately-sized dummy eggs to use as replacements. When she starts laying eggs, add some extra dummy eggs to the nest site. Some birds will stop laying early if they have enough eggs in the nest - this can work even if they didn't lay all the eggs themselves. Dummy eggs can be very useful to slow down or stop excessive laying.

If a bird continues laying eggs after completing a normal clutch and doesn't sit on the eggs, that could indicate a hormone problem. For larger birds, like parrots, hormone shots are sometimes used. I don't know if that is an option for finches.

...

It is also very important to support the bird while they are laying with a calcium-rich diet or with calcium supplements. You can offer grit, but offering liquid calcium supplements is even better. Grit has relatively low bioavailability so the bird might not eat enough to replace their losses. I recommend giving calcium-fortified egg food to heavy layers. It replenishes calcium and other vital nutrients AND you know they are actually eating it.
 

Johnny99

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Unfortunately, zebra finches are genetically predisposed to excessive laying. It can be very difficult to get them to stop, even when you do all the right things. If she is still laying even after all nests or nest-like objects have been removed, you could try using dummy eggs to discourage constant laying.

Most birds will naturally stop laying when they get a full clutch of eggs as they switch their focus to incubating the eggs. Since she is a solo bird, you could let her sit on her own infertile eggs. Or even better, buy some appropriately-sized dummy eggs to use as replacements. When she starts laying eggs, add some extra dummy eggs to the nest site. Some birds will stop laying early if they have enough eggs in the nest - this can work even if they didn't lay all the eggs themselves. Dummy eggs can be very useful to slow down or stop excessive laying.

If a bird continues laying eggs after completing a normal clutch and doesn't sit on the eggs, that could indicate a hormone problem. For larger birds, like parrots, hormone shots are sometimes used. I don't know if that is an option for finches.

...

It is also very important to support the bird while they are laying with a calcium-rich diet or with calcium supplements. You can offer grit, but offering liquid calcium supplements is even better. Grit has relatively low bioavailability so the bird might not eat enough to replace their losses. I recommend giving calcium-fortified egg food to heavy layers. It replenishes calcium and other vital nutrients AND you know they are actually eating it.
Thank you, I have been giving her this for a few months: https://www.versele-laga.com/en/gb/oropharma/products/oropharma-calcilux
As for dummy eggs, only canary dummy eggs are available in my country and they're bigger and blue so they would be most likely useless.
 

Johnny99

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I would remove any resemblance of a nest for the first step. You may need to change your feeding dishes too if she starts using them. You are right, you don't want her to over lay. Let us know how she goes. I would also ensure you are offering a water soluble shell grit to help her get more calcium in her diet.
I'll try to find and buy some other feeding dishes then, thanks. I have also been giving her this for a while: https://www.versele-laga.com/en/gb/oropharma/products/oropharma-calcilux
 

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It's a common problem in zebra finches, I have 1-2 hens that will drop an egg occasionally, not quite enough to be considered excessive but still unwanted. I also had a few diamond doves that were chronic layers. The eggs almost always shattered when they dropped and the birds showed no interest in incubating them, but if your bird does try incubate dummy eggs or letting her sit on infertile eggs will help. Don't have anything nest like in the cage, and preferably nothing that could be seen as nesting material either.
For sure offer her a soluble calcium grit, shell grit is what I use. I find mine would eat their eggs to replenish calcium, so offering free choice calcium helped them a lot, I also noticed they stopped puffing up in my case. In water supplements are good and do provide calcium, but free choice calcium is best IMO so they can judge how much they need.
It's a bit of a win-lose situation with protein for egg layers, but reducing the amount of protein I offered played a big part in stopping egg laying for my birds. With my diamond doves, cutting pellets out of their diet and replacing it with a vitamin and mineral supplement was what stopped them laying completely, I assume because the pellets were providing them with perhaps too much protein. And cutting out egg food for my finches also helped, but I still feed them egg food, just not when they are in a laying episode. Excess protein in their diet can stimulate hormones, as in the wild breeding season is when food is plentiful and protein rich. Egg laying does require protein, so it does put strain on their body to not provide it, but in the long run it's probably worth it.
 

Johnny99

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What should I do when she lays an egg? There was one at the bottom of the cage (there's hay at the bottom so it didn't break from the fall, she wasn't sitting on it and I never saw her use the hay for anything such as building a nest or laying in it, meaning she must have pushed the egg out while she was on one of the above perches).
 
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fashionfobie

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What should I do when she lays an egg? There was one at the bottom of the cage (there's hay at the bottom so it didn't break from the fall, she wasn't sitting on it and I never saw her use the hay for anything such as building a nest or laying in it, meaning she must have pushed the egg out while she was on one of the above perches).
If she isn't showing interest in it I would remove it. I would also remove the hay in case it is encouraging her. Another thing that may help is to radically rearrange the cage. New perches or a new arrangement can help redirect her interest temporarily and maybe if there is also a lack of nesting sites she will improve. However as other said, it will be hard to stop all laying. You can only do your best to curb it.
 

Johnny99

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Is it problematic that they're both sometimes horny (shaking/spreading their tails, beak grinding, making horny sounds etc) but no actual mating ever happens? I didn't want either of them to be alone.
 

fashionfobie

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There is nothing wrong with that at all. Finches shouldn't be alone. Bird body language is complex and it isn't always about mating. As a point of comparison, dogs will also sometimes mount each other in play or social disputes. I wouldn't worry about your finches being social. :) It is only a problem if they are squabbling non stop or fighting over food, even short fights are normal.
 

Johnny99

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It's a common problem in zebra finches, I have 1-2 hens that will drop an egg occasionally, not quite enough to be considered excessive but still unwanted. I also had a few diamond doves that were chronic layers. The eggs almost always shattered when they dropped and the birds showed no interest in incubating them, but if your bird does try incubate dummy eggs or letting her sit on infertile eggs will help. Don't have anything nest like in the cage, and preferably nothing that could be seen as nesting material either.
For sure offer her a soluble calcium grit, shell grit is what I use. I find mine would eat their eggs to replenish calcium, so offering free choice calcium helped them a lot, I also noticed they stopped puffing up in my case. In water supplements are good and do provide calcium, but free choice calcium is best IMO so they can judge how much they need.
It's a bit of a win-lose situation with protein for egg layers, but reducing the amount of protein I offered played a big part in stopping egg laying for my birds. With my diamond doves, cutting pellets out of their diet and replacing it with a vitamin and mineral supplement was what stopped them laying completely, I assume because the pellets were providing them with perhaps too much protein. And cutting out egg food for my finches also helped, but I still feed them egg food, just not when they are in a laying episode. Excess protein in their diet can stimulate hormones, as in the wild breeding season is when food is plentiful and protein rich. Egg laying does require protein, so it does put strain on their body to not provide it, but in the long run it's probably worth it.
White Shellsand by shell grit you mean something like this?
 

Johnny99

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I imagine it's similar but not quite what I use, 'Crushed oyster shell grit' is usually what mine is called.
I've got something similar at home, it contains silica sand and crushed oyster shells, looks like this. Should I give it to her?
 

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fashionfobie

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I've got something similar at home, it contains silica sand and crushed oyster shells, looks like this. Should I give it to her?
Sand isn't ideal for a shell/calcium grit (sand is not water soluble). I would try and find one that is completely shell.

Sand would be suitable to birds that don't shell their seeds, like chickens, ducks and doves. Since zebra finches shell their seeds they do not need sand.
 
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