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My little son just asked me this question. His mother used to complain about the excruciating pain she suffered when she gave birth to him. He is a compassionate kid and wonders whether the hen goes through this pain everyday. Not being a hen, I am not sure if chickens experience pain that is close to the pain associated with giving birth.

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  • $\begingroup$ By the way, taking your son to a farm that has laying hens might be really nice. As anongoodnurse said, there is a lot of squawking when the egg is laid, but nothing he would associate with pain. $\endgroup$ – YviDe Dec 21 '15 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ I see why you would ask this question AMR, the do squawk after laying an egg $\endgroup$ – rockinboy3303 Sep 5 '17 at 11:50
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We really don't know - we can't really ask the chicken. At least, it's unlikely it's as painful as it can be with humans.

The reason human birth is (or can be) very painful is that the human baby's head has to fit through the woman's pelvis. Since splitting from chimpanzees, human heads have gotten bigger, while the pelvis has gotten more narrow due to adapting to walking on two legs. While chimpanzees give birth in an average of around 2 hours, humans can take over a day to do so, and the baby being too big can lead to maternal and natal death.

Back to chickens, while there are different sizes of eggs, the larger eggs come from larger chicken breeds. If it does hurt them, at least it takes a lot less time - only a few minutes. From personal experience, the hens do not appear traumatized even seconds afterwards and just go about their day as soon as the egg is out.

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    $\begingroup$ @AMR - hormones don't make chickens lay eggs; breed, light and temperature do. A mature chicken will lay 300+ eggs a year given long days (that means artificial light in the winter) and enough food and some help with temperatures (less energy lost to maintain body heat), Some lay ~360 (obviously referred to as layer breeds, like white leghorns.) There is another question answered already on hormones and eggs. Chickens don't need them. When they slow down, they get replaced. It's just cheaper. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Dec 20 '15 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ @AMR - If you want to ask that (separate) question, though, since I answered for broilers but not layers, I'd be happy to answer it. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Dec 20 '15 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ @YviDe - +1. I used to have laying hens (I'm not exaggerating when I say I've had hundreds). They cluck and might squawk a bit when they lay, but they don't need bed rest after, and I never had one bleed to death from the experience. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Dec 20 '15 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ @AMR - Yes, that's safe to say. Light affects the pituitary gland, which affects egg production. Usually regardless of age (within reason), my chickens all started to lay eggs at about the same time in the Spring once the days were long enough. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Dec 20 '15 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse "If you want to ask that (separate) question, though, since I answered for broilers but not layers, I'd be happy to answer it." I tend to research on my own instead of ask questions, I just saw a quick tack on that's always been in the dark recesses of my mind. Thank you for the enlightenment. I would not have guessed that. $\endgroup$ – AMR Dec 20 '15 at 22:52

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