Does the first egg hurt?

sullicorbitt(z5 MA)October 27, 2005

My hens just started laying a week and a half ago, we are getting more eggs each day (YES!), yesterday we got 7. I've noticed when I think a hen is laying her first egg she seems like she is in labor (which she really is right?). Well I've heard some pretty horrible screaming in the coop during this process, a rythmic "balk" over and over until the egg gets layed. I feel awful poor girls but it doesn't seem to be an every egg occurance, I think it's that first egg.

I know I am so inexperienced with this but is the first egg really painful? does it get less and less as the hens mature?

Thanks :)


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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

The egg laying process is very dramatic! Here's what my hens do, see if it matches yours: when one is about to lay an egg, she will go rather frantically from nesting spot to nesting spot in the yard, all the while bawking and crying in a fretful tone, sometimes she'll seem downright frenzied. Sometimes other hens or the roo will accompiany her in her search for the Perfect Nesting Spot, and THEY have to get in on the noisemaking, too. The hen may also watch another hen who is laying, sticking her head in the nest box and cackling her head off at the top of her lungs. We call this the 'pre-egg cackle', and I think it serves to draw out any predators before the hen is committed to laying the egg and is stuck on the nest.

When the hen is FINALLY actually ready to lay, she gets very quiet and secretive. She'll choose a nest (usually the same one she used before, despite all the searching that went on before) and as she sits, will seem to go into a trance, being quite still. When the egg is coming out she will stand up and concentrate hard (Moms who have seen their small children passing a bowel movement know this look!) and seem to strain a bit, then out pops the egg! After this she may stay and mother it for a few minutes, then will leap from the nest cackling loudly and sometimes running. Most of the time she'll go and eat a little food and have a drink.

All the hens treat their egg laying (and everyone else's) as a cause for loud celebration. I think the noise you are hearing is that rather than screams of pain. Also, for first-time layers, there is that freaked-out, 'what the heck just happened to me?!' quality to the hens' reaction to laying her first eggs. *L* They take this more in stride as they mature. The only time I'd worry is if you suspect a hen is egg-bound, and then you need to act very quickly. It isn't very common in chickens who get a good diet and proper care though. The symptoms of an eggbound hen are fairly marked, if you want to read more on it research the Internet or click on my 'My Page' link, I've discussed eggbinding there a bit.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 3:59PM
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It must depend on the chicken or at least the breed. All of my chickens in the past, just laid their eggs, without any special ruckus, although I hear the ruckus from time to time. Seriously, while some hens will cackle over it, most just go on with their business. I hear more ruckus when a mouse or bug runs into the pens. WOW! If someone comes in and lets the door slam hard, they all scream. A roar of thunder--they all scream! If I have to catch a few individuals to medicate, take out for a show, or whater--they all scream!

I've actually witnessed 2 times a hen really did lightly strain to pass her egg. No, it was not oversized, just a normal large egg. Both cases were light breed hens. Other times, I've seen either a spooked or otherwise moving hen, pass an egg as casually as defecating. I've walked into the pens to collect eggs and have seen scurrying hens drop their eggs as they run across the floor. I've also had the surprise of eggs dropped on my lap while grooming a hen.

A few years ago, I had just cleaned and filled a large, 5-gallon waterer. This kind did have the type of slip cover that turned and locked into place. It had to be slid on, which activated the water valve and the handle was on the inside wall, not the slip cover. After lugging the filled waterer and setting it down, but not in place, a white leghorn hen happened to fly up and land on a crosstimber just over of the top of the freshly-filled waterer. Just as I looked up to see where she went, and before I could move the heavy object, she opened up and was going to dump right into the new water! I just raised my hand to catch it [so it's gross, but I get chicken poop on my hands daily anyway] but instead of poop, I caught a very fresh egg! Nope, no straining--just BANG! and it was out! Well, it's a good thing I caught that one, as a broken egg in the water would not have been good, either.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 5:12PM
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I am curious about that last story tomato, when you caught that freshly laid egg in your hand. what did it feel like, was it firm or soft and squishy? did it have a film over it?I'm just wondering. Thanks

see you all soon


    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 6:29PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Great story! *L*

A fresh egg will normally be warm and mostly firm, and just a tad moist. As they dry they harden up the rest of the way. Incredible feeling, really. :) Hens do lay softshelled or rubbery eggs once in a while, but it's not too common.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 2:45AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Velvet, I too noticed one of my RIR's sitting on her egg for quite a while after laying it! She then started to squawk her head off so much I thought she was going to lay another egg, but no she just had the urge to be noisy I guess.

Tomato Worm, I agree, some hens just slip in and out and really call no attention to themselves at all.

Well today I spent the morning cleaning out the coop. I saw a couple of hens laying in the nesting boxes for maybe 1/2 hour or so. One of them squawked after she laid, the other made a racket before she laid. Neither was as ear piercing as the noises I've heard before. I must admit they do make quite a bit of more noise than I had anticipated.

I also must add, it started to snow during my cleaning spree this morning......I am so not looking forward to winter.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 2:56PM
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    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 4:25PM
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Millie_36(Z6b MO)

The first eggs are usually quite small and bullet shaped. A friend calls them "pullet bullets". LOL I can't say whether they are bragging or complaining when they squawk, but suspect it's to draw away preditors. They really need to be secretive if planning to make a nest away from the safety of the chicken house...three weeks is a long time to stay hidden.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 7:10PM
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Cammy, if you have hens, sooner or later, you will actually see the just-laid egg. Yes, they are hard-shelled. They are also quite warm-just coming out of a bird whose body temp is about 107 degrees. Yes, that is perfectly normal for a chicken. It would kill us in a matter of hours! They are moist of course, but just a little on the "slimy" side, too, as it is a lubricant to help the bird pass it.

I thought one of the more interesting sights was actually watching the egg come out--and that happened during the grooming I mentioned above. Again, I was ready to catch the mess and keeping it off my clothing as I carefuly cleaned the ventral plumage of a large Cochin hen. This was a show bird. When the hole opened up, I saw a strange dark pink membrane through it. It swelled, so I knew the hen was not just going to take a usual dump. I also paused, not wanting to further disturb and stress her during the laying. I watched as the pale brown spot appeared, revealing the egg still behind the membrane which receeded as the egg made its way through the vent. Maybe about 6-7 seconds.

One way to tell just how fresh is fresh, is to collect eggs from the non-setters and pick up one that may be dry, but is still somewhat warm. Also, look for bits of debris stuck to a fresh egg from when it dropped. After only a short time, such will fall off the egg when it fully dries and is disturbed as the hens walk about the pen.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 3:58PM
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hey about those rubbery eggs - we have been getting a few. Tried putting more grit out but we are still getting them. What's that about?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 4:38PM
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mommagoose(z5 NY)

kiwishan Grit will do nothing to help the calcium the chickens need. Grit is only an abraisive that the gizzard uses to break down food. If you want to help the calcium that the chicken needs give free choice oystershell. oyster shell and grit are two different things. :) Hows the weather in New Zealand? Its cold and snowy here in NY.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 12:37PM
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I just started this backyard chicken raising some 6 months ago, I got them (4 ) when they were baby chicks. Now their 6 months old, I just noticed yesterday that one of the hens is setting alot. Yrsterday when I opened the gate to let them out to roam, she just set back and waited she did go out and roam, but today when I open the gate all 3 came running out but that one, she's still setting in the nesting box and not coming out with the rest of the hens, I looked under her and nothing no egg..Does this mean she's getting ready to lay or is she sick,, she seems to be ok moving her head around and looking at me ???

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 10:16AM
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