Egg Eating

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Our chickens, even the new ones that we got last spring, have not been laying for about a month. Normally the young ones come into production during the fall and winter and tide us over while the older ones are molting, but not this time.

During that period one egg was produced, obviously by a young chicken because it wasn't in the nest box, and was eaten by the others. We managed to find and save another egg about a week ago, but today my DH got to the coop just in time to find the chickens finishing up an egg that had again been laid on the floor of the coop instead of the nest box.

We feed them organically, which is expensive, and he's about ready to kill them all and start over again. I'm sure there's a better solution. Any suggestions out there?

Richmond, TX

How about scattering a few ceramic eggs on the floor and let them dull their beaks on them for a while; they might become discouraged.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Porkpal! I also read that blowing the contents of an egg out and filling it with mustard is a deterrent, so we may try that too. Maybe that along with the ceramic eggs...We have no idea who the culprit is and with three dozen hens we'd never find out, plus once the egg breaks they all partake! So getting rid of the guilty party isn't going to work.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Think you need a chicken psychiatrist. :0)

(Zone 6b)

Haha Jnette.

Set up a security camera. :)

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

You got it!! Or, a trail cam. Those work good. Take pictures in the dark. We'll catch the guilty party. :0)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Lots of luck telling one Black Australorp or white Delaware from another the next day, guys!

(Zone 6b)

You when we thought we had it all figured out. Well... hmmm. Let them out in groups that you can identify?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I don't know how you'd do that. The coop is open in the day and chickens wander in and out in order to get shelter and access the nest boxes.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

How often does this happen? Often enough that you can take one chicken at a time out and isolate it to see if it is the guilty one?

You said it has to be a young one that is laying, but you don't know whether it is young or old that is starting on the egg. You can't tell on the camera who it is. I didn't see how many chix you have. Too many to do as I said and isolate them one at a time? Or, not often enough to do that?

Maybe with these questions etc. you can think of something. Let us know what you think.

Richmond, TX

I still vote for the decoy egg technique - not at all labor intensive.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Jnette, our chickens have been on strike for over a month now, but of the three eggs they've deigned to grace us with, two have been broken and eaten. The eggs that we've seen have all been from the young chickens because they're not in the nest boxes; our older chickens all use those dependably. And we have 36 chickens, so we can't isolate them. With most of them staying inside due to the cold there's a lot of activity in the henhouse, and I doubt we could figure out which Speckled Sussex or which Delaware or which Cuckoo Maran is starting the egg off. I like the decoy egg idea, and as soon as I recover from this flu I'm going to try it out. Plus, if I can find them, setting out ceramic eggs as well.

Bridgewater, ME

Golf balls work to and probably cheaper

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I like the idea of the golf balls. But, if you want ceramics you should be able to find them with Easter coming up. If you put several golf balls in a nest you might get a hen to set on them and try to hatch them. Years ago I had a bucket of nuts and bolts in the garage and I had a big old red hen that would not get off of them. I kept taking her off, but she would get right back on there.

Richmond, TX

Many feed stores sell the ceramic eggs.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

There you go. Will be interesting.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I think we already have ceramic eggs - I had gotten them because when our geese were trying to set, a few years back, the chickens kept pecking and destroying their eggs. The geese finally took up a nest in a patch of prickly pear cactus and managed to raise a couple of broods over the years, until a possum killed both the male and female. Now we only have two ganders - the two young geese died from coccidiosis before we got a chance to treat them properly.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I'm telling you, but I am sure you know this, that geese are better watch dogs than dogs!! I had them and they even went after me. But boy did they make a racket whenever a dog or somebody came near the yard. Stayed at the gate waiting to go after them. I am surprised they allowed the chickens near their nests. I suppose they were just like family to them.

Richmond, TX

Did you house your geese with the chickens at night?

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Yes, you know with animals, when it is time to go to bed, that is exactly what they do. sleep. It has been years since I lived there, and had the animals, so don't really remember the setup I had for them. I don't remember if they acted that way at night or not. Sorry

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Porkpal, the geese never went into the chicken coop, so they were sitting ducks for the possum. The ones we have now often sleep under the coop, which is a lot safer. And yes, the reason we keep geese is for predators; they seem to protect our chickens from the hawks which are numerous in this area.

Jnette, the geese would lay an egg and then go off and forage. They didn't set until they had a full clutch. So the eggs were often left undefended. And even when the geese tried to keep the chickens away, there were a lot of chickens to only one or two geese so it was sometimes an impossible task. We tried putting the eggs in an enclosure to keep them safe, but moving them caused the geese to abandon them.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I just read an article in Hobby Farms magazine about eggs.

Their take on egg eating is lack of protein in their diet. It should be around 20%.
Also could be lack of calcium.
So a good layer feed & free choice oyster shells should help.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Turns out that the chickens love mustard - even Chinese mustard. So much for that idea. They devoured the doctored egg, shell and all, as though it were candy. We also distributed some ceramic goose-sized eggs around the coop but DH is about to butcher all of them and start over again, he's so disgusted.

Bernie, we feed our chickens organic layer pellets; I'll have to check the amount of protein included in that formulation. We also supplement with sunflower seeds once a day. They've been on that régime for a few years now and never ate their eggs, but it's worth checking into.

I'm also thinking it might be less of a problem when the weather warms up, if it ever does, and they spend more time out in the pasture. Right now they hang out in the coop so anything that gets laid on the floor is scooped up quickly.

Richmond, TX

Perhaps the number of fake eggs need to greatly outnumber the number of laid eggs so that they have mainly negative experiences when pecking at them. Lots of golf balls?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I don't have a good source of golfballs but I could probably find some. I wondered whether the fake eggs should be more chicken sized to be effective. But who knows? Of course, I don't want the floor of the coop to be so littered with egg decoys that I trip over them, either!

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Green, my current flock are a bunch of egg-eaters too. They have all the "natural" feed they want (one step down from organic - there's no way I'm paying organic prices for feed), and they have always had all the oyster shell they want, so I'm not sure about the protein theory. To begin with, they were not the brightest bunch of chickens I've had; it took them months to learn what the nesting boxes and roosts were for and started out laying their eggs on the floor. Well now, years later, their egg production is way wa down, so I have a new batch of Rhode Island Reds in the brooder, getting ready to replace my old egg-eating girls who are costing me big bucks. Before our new batch move up to the big coop, my DH and I are going to make some changes to the nesting boxes.......building a sloped nesting box floor and adding a partial back wall that will let the eggs roll back, under the wall, and store against the door trim where the hen can't reach them. I just pray that RIRs are smarter than BOs!!
.....Egg eaters make me so mad. Ugh!!

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We solved our BO problems. Shipped them off with the old hens to be made into soup!

Our new pullets are having trouble figuring out nest boxes too. These are hybrids. I think they breed them up for cage life & not free range duties. So they are just plain dumb.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I have Buff Brahmas and soon to have Jersey Giants. The Brahmas seemed to know right what to do about using the nesting boxes but one of the girls decided to start egg eating at about one year old. One of her sisters was kind of broody. One morning I was cleaning out the coop and Miss Egg Eater started pecking at one of the eggs I hadn't collected yet. I thought "Aha, I'm going to teach her a lesson now I know which one to punish!" But before I could get to her her broody sister went on the attack. Apparently Miss Broody thought all eggs were under her protection and she really let her sister have it. I never found another cracked half eaten egg again. But I've had words with Miss Broody (who is going on six years old now and has adopted a peacock chick) while trying to collect eggs.

Good luck with your RIR's!

(Zone 6b)

Ah, Terri, a peacock chick! Awesome. Where are our pictures?

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We had a peacock hen show up at our place last summer. Palled right up with the hens. We gave her to a girl that worked for us one summer. I think she still has her.
We never did figure out where it came from.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Kenboy told me that peacocks can find each other up to ten miles away during mating season. She was probably out looking for a date!

Just learning to use my new camera. Will post some soon!☺

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Now that the weather is milder our chickens are spending more time outside the coop and the egg-eating seems to have pretty much stopped. We did put out the ceramic eggs, and right now have one of those in most of the nest boxes. Right now we're getting two or three eggs a day from about thirty chickens, and I'm hoping that will increase. This is most atypical of them.

For this year's spring chicks I ordered Red Star pullets rather than my usual dual-purpose birds because I really want egg-layers!

Glenda, "natural" doesn't really mean anything; the reason I went to organic was because I realized that while I was avoiding arsenic and antibiotics with the brand I used, I was still giving them GMOs. We can't recoup our investment because our customers don't really care; they just like the taste of free-range eggs. But I do it for us.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

I understand, greenhouse_gal. Hey, how much does organic feed cost in NJ? It has been a couple years since I priced it here in Michigan. At that time, it was double the price of natural. :-/

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Yes, it's double the price of regular here, too. I think it's about $36 for 50 lbs. So it's infuriating when the vile hens stop laying and then eat the few they produce!

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

My "natural" feed costs me 19˘ a pound.
Right now 245 pullets are putting out 180 eggs a day & increasing everyday. They've been laying about 5 weeks.

I just saw an article in the paper about General Mills making Cherrio's non GMO. They have noticed no increase in sales since they changed over to it.
They said the decline in cereal sales is probably due to fast food places serving breakfast things & also the frozen breakfast treats at the grocery stores.

Finally warm enough so the hens can go outside during the day. Old hens like it, not so sure with the pullets.

(Zone 6b)

After I turned our cable off in 2000, out of boredom I started reading books from the library and one of them was "Heiress, the Rich Life of Marjorie Merriweather Post". She was the only child of C.W. Post that invented cereal. He suffered from depression and was trying to find a food to improve his own health. He spent years experimenting in his kitchen trying to find a cure for his own depression, at least according to the book. The word Cheerios brought the book to my mind. Anyway, he committed suicide. He was an extremely successful businessman, his specialty was actually advertising. If I remember correctly, he promised to send a quarter to everyone that would try his cereal. It was a coupon I think. It worked too because when he died, his daughter at only twenty-seven years of age, became the sole heir to his $250 million dollar fortune. It was quite a tale. She had four husbands, one of which was E.F. Hutton.

Breakfast cereal became a staple in American's diets, but I am not convinced it is really all that healthy for anyone. It certainly didn't help him!

Marjorie Merriweather Post also was the one responsible for us having frozen foods too. Not only did she bring frozen foods to the grocery store, but she also had to find someone to invent the freezer, which she did. Then she had to convince Americans that we all needed one. She founded Birdseye Frozen Foods, the first frozen foods in America.

Here, I can tie all this into poultry by saying her first frozen food was a turkey. Somehow on her ship a cook supplied her with turkey that somehow was frozen and that started her little mind thinking about preserving food that was out of season, or so the story goes. She inquired how they could have this delicious turkey when they had been at sea for weeks and weeks. Sorry, but I cannot recall how or why it was frozen. It was frozen though.

If not for her, we probably would not all have freezers in our houses. :)

A few more minutes online looking and it seems her chef was Clarence Birdseye. She bought his patents for freezing food for $23 million.













This message was edited Mar 29, 2014 10:02 PM

Richmond, TX

Interesting!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

It certainly changed the way the world eats!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

The chickens have gradually been upping their production of eggs from zero to three or so and we haven't seen any cracked and eaten; there were actually four good eggs today. I managed to sell a dozen Saturday night and I have a dozen to bring in for some friends tomorrow morning.

So this morning we were in the chicken coop changing a lightbulb, which for some reason had shattered overnight, and DH was up on a small ladder trying to disinter the shards of the broken one. We had installed a shelf over about a third of the coop to hold the brooder and other chicken-related equipment, about 6 ˝' above the level of the floor, and when I climbed the ladder to help with the bulb DH told me to look over on the shelf. He said I wouldn't believe my eyes.

Sure enough, neatly laid out in the open space on the shelf were a whole mess of eggs! A couple were broken, but I think all in all there may have been almost two dozen! One or more of the Black Australorps was obviously flying up there to deposit her prizes; the others use the nest boxes and the BA's are the only ones that can really fly, anyway. So we put some netting over the opening to the shelf and we await the next chapter in the saga of the eggs with great interest. That has NEVER happened before!

(Zone 6b)

Leave it to a chicken.

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