Do birds go through menopause? No fowl has come forward to speak out in defense of their moody ways so who’s to know especially since the scientist are still pondering the answer. But some of you long time flocksters like myself are probably saying, “that explains a few things.” Yes, we’ve had a hen that stocked Robins like a cat, she hated them. And another hen that terrorized the magpies, good for her. We do too. We’ve been known to put our own head down and scream at them at a flying run. But I’m more talking of the ‘Angry Bird’ like personalities that happen just now and then. I think the girls get P.M.S. too. I’ve seen sparrows at the bird feeder that scream and rage, running at any male in sight giving them a right ripping peace of their mind. It didn’t look like the guys had done much either to observe it but who knows what they said?
That’s hardly enough to determine that birds have menopause though. So let’s look at what the scientist have to say on the subject. They don’t think birds have hot flashes. What would you be looking for, birds fanning each other? Extensive bird bathing? Who know? They have checked the bone density and haven’t noticed a change. Now with chickens though, that and there is no diminished I’d question whether they’ve looked at chickens though. The extensive egg laying over a regular bird would be different.
What they do known is that some birds like the Macaw lay all their eggs by their mid 30’s and yet live 2 more decades. A type of menopause is suspected in these birds. Of course I don’t have any Macaws flying around near my home in the wilds of Wyoming but it does not mean my brain didn’t wonder if I let my chooks grow old, would they go through menopause? Are they going through a type of menopause when they begin to lay fewer and fewer eggs? After all it is hormones that trigger egg laying.
In an egg, the first thing to develop is the yolks. Mature yolks of free-range hens are orange; smaller ones yellow; and embryonic yolks flesh colored.
Older hens sometimes have problems with egg production such as being egg bound because as the hen ages, so do the eggs. Egg production in chickens diminishes after age 2. Substantially after age 4 where they may only lay a few times a month.
This is the tube that runs from the ovaries and out. See the egg inside the uterus or shell gland. Here it is developing the hard shell as calcium forms around it.
This is a better view.
This is what the egg looks like just before entering the shell gland.
If you want to know the details of egg production in a hen, this site is great.
So how would you explain a hen’s moody behavior or the reduction in egg production as they age?
My vote is for menopause being the answer.