Monday, April 22, 2013

Which Came First?

It’s always been hard to decide the answer to the age-old question, “…which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  That question, however, is even harder to answer considering how long chickens have been around.

Here at WBS we worry about a different question involving the egg of a bird (or also a reptile) that can be a common conundrum with chickens.  Birds and other egg-laying animals can sometimes have a condition referred to as egg binding.  This is where a female of an egg-laying species has problems passing a formed egg out of its system.  This can cause many problems for the animal and sometimes, if not caught immediately, can cause death.
Egg binding can affect reptiles, as well as birds
Egg binding can be caused by many factors that vary from species to species.  The most common causes are calcium deficiencies (calcium helps the muscles contract that lay the egg), early breeding (if the female is too young and small), oversized or malformed eggs, an illness that weakens the female, stress, dehydration, and genetics (the pelvis may just be too small for egg laying).  With so many possible causes it is very important for owners/caretakers to watch for the symptoms of being egg bound and also to be very particular on the housing and food intake of egg laying animals.
Chickens are the animal most commonly associated with egg binding
Chickens are most commonly found with the egg binding problem, mostly because of the large number of eggs that they lay year round.  When a hen is egg-bound she will often become lethargic and ‘droopy’ compared to how she normally acts.  For example, a shy bird that normally runs away when a person enters its space will not be concerned with a person’s entrance when it is not feeling well.  Unfortunately that is a sign for a large range of illnesses, so other behaviors must be observed as well.  Some signs may be fluffed feathers, visiting the nest more often than normal, straining to lay the egg, tail pumping up and down, lack of eating or drinking, swollen abdomen and a red or swollen vent

Since being egg bound can be fatal within 48 hours, it is very important to take action with the animal in question as soon as possible.  It is best to consult your vet.

Even though we do not now, and may never, know which of the two came first, it is very well known that without either of them, we could not raise more chickens and other egg laying animals.

So whether or not it was the chicken or the egg, it is important that they both be made as healthy as possible.

Submitted by Teresa Aldrich, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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