Have you ever noticed that your hens seem to relish in the laying of an egg? It is almost as if they beam with pride having done so, celebrating their fabulous creation. Part of this sense of accomplishment includes breaking out in conversation and sharing the news of an egg laid with anyone in the world who will listen, be it willingly or not.
If you own chickens, you are probably all too familiar with such morning egg announcements. Sometimes they are truly music to our ears and at other times you might wish egg celebrations could be muted instead. Regardless of your feelings about them, such announcements persist. The question is: why?
Since chickens are animals that are vulnerable to attack by predators and eggs are responsible for the continuity of the flock, you would almost expect them to keep mum about eggs being laid. Instead of vocalizing after the deed is done, it almost makes more sense for a hush to come over the crowd as the egg is guarded so as to avoid predators becoming aware of its presence. Even though to some of us humans, that might be logical, apparently chickens do not feel the same way.
Our natural human tendencies are to liken the behaviors of animals to that which we understand and feel ourselves. While this may or may not make our assessments accurate, we persist nonetheless. When it comes to egg laying, it occurs to us humans that the act of passing an egg would be both joyous and a relief. Thus we tend to think proclamations of an egg laid are celebratory. This idea sounds nice but is probably not entirely accurate. Sure, chickens probably take pride in a job well done, but that alone is not likely the reason for their song and dance routine.
What is more likely is that the commotion created after an egg is laid is to divert the attention of predators away from the nest. Call it a sleight of hand but in chicken form. By generating noise in an area away from the egg, the focus of hungry eyes is directed elsewhere, giving the egg the best chance of development. Another reason for the sound is theorized as a need to call the flock back to alert them of this new egg and enlist their services in keeping it safe.
Although we may never know what the precise reason is for the ruckus after an egg is laid, we, like our chickens, should take a moment to relish in it. Whether we celebrate a potential new life in the form of that egg or instead concentrate on tomorrow's breakfast, there is common ground when it comes to happiness at an egg laid. Next time your chickens get to singing that egg laying song, even if it is sung badly, stop and take a moment to share in their joy.