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Egg-Eating Hen

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have 6 nest boxes for laying.  For some reason most of the hens (I have 8) want to lay in one particular box. In the morning I usually hear one chicken loudly squawking because she wants to lay in the "preferred" nest box which is occupied.  I usually have success going out there and encouraging the squawker to shut up and just wait her turn.  This morning one hen was squawking and I went out.  In the preferred box was a 5 year old hen who lays eggs every so often (I got her from my son--she was one of the original hens he had).  

 

I was surprised to see the 5 year old there because I have no idea which box she lays in.  Anyway the 5 year old got up (from her laying position) and I saw 2 eggs where she had been laying. Before the 5 year old got all the way out, the squawker reached in, pecked a hole in one of the eggs and started eating.  I grabbed her, with egg still in her mouth and set her on the ground.  Then 4 other hens came over and were trying to eat what they could.

 

Now I don't know if the 5 year old layed one of the 2 eggs or if she was just guarding them.  Over the past 2-3 weeks we have found about 3 eaten eggs (empty shell found either on the ground or in the nest box).  We thought it might have been a large scrub jay bird doing it as they are known scavengers.  Now I think this one particular hen may be the culprit.  

 

What might be going on here? I now think we have an egg-eating hen among the flock and I am leaning toward the 5 year old guarding the eggs instead of laying eggs herself.  How do I stop this?  This has only started happening in the past 2 months--I've had most of my chickens since last July with no problems until recently.

 

Post script;  I went out to the coop to quiet a different hen who wanted the preferred box.  I coaxed her into the next box & I noticed the 5 year old was in the preferred box.  I just went back out there and the 5 year old just flew out--and there were no eggsa that she had been laying on.

post #2 of 5

Five year old could be laying, but I doubt she's guarding the eggs unless she's broody, and it doesn't sound like she is. Sometimes hens will also hide in nestboxes.

Make sure you deal with the egg-eating problem right away before the others figure it out, too. First, make sure your hens have enough protein and that it's not diluted by too many treats. Make sure there's enough bedding in the nestbox and that the hens have access to oyster shell so the eggs are harder for them to break open. If that doesn't work, put fake eggs in the nestbox so they will peck them and find they can't break open eggs after all. (This didn't work with my egg-eating chickens, but I've heard postitive things about it from other people.) I don't know if you've heard of the mustard trick, but you could try that, too. I never did, so I can't tell you if it works. :)

Burd-Lover through and through

 

I am a Christian. Jesus is awesome!

1 John 5:12 - He who has the Son has life.

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Burd-Lover through and through

 

I am a Christian. Jesus is awesome!

1 John 5:12 - He who has the Son has life.

Reply
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your answer.  I feed my hens Purina Layena as their main food source.  Not sure what "treats" are that you mention.  I also give then scratch--about 4-5 handfuls daily, is that a treat? I'm thinking treats are rice, greens (lettuce and leafy veggies), mealworms, and the like.  They get rice and greens, but only only perodically.  Now that I know who the culprit is, I can keep an eye on her when she starts squawking, trying to get into a nest box where another chicken is laying. I have a space in the coop where I can keep her separated from all of them and then let her out once the eggs are collected.  I do have faux eggs, but they are in another nestbox that the hens have been avoiding for 3 weeks now.  I could move them (they are ceramic faux eggs) into the preferred laying box, but I'm afraid the real egg might fall on the ceramics and break.

post #4 of 5

Sorry, I should be more specific than "treats." I am referring to anything other than their regular laying food, in which case scratch would be included. So, I don't know ... I feed mine like that, too, just some scratch and regular feed plus some occasional greens or other table scraps. I have heard that once a hen gets the taste for eggs, she won't stop, but mine who used to eat more now hardly ever eat eggs unless they fall on the floor and break. Maybe see if you can get them a higher-protein feed. Regular laying feed has just enough protein, I believe, so I know for myself I need to stop feeding mine as much scratch and oats so that they get the right amount of protein.

I don't know if the faux eggs will help. I know that chickens hate mustard, so maybe you could fill an egg (a real blown-out one) with mustard. I haven't tried this yet, so I don't know about its effectiveness. I hope you can get that hen to stop! It's so annoying when most of the eggs are eaten by the chickens!

Burd-Lover through and through

 

I am a Christian. Jesus is awesome!

1 John 5:12 - He who has the Son has life.

Reply

Burd-Lover through and through

 

I am a Christian. Jesus is awesome!

1 John 5:12 - He who has the Son has life.

Reply
post #5 of 5

They need more protein. The layer feed is 16%, about the minimum needed to produce eggs....

...the other foods you are giving is reducing that protein content.

 

Some fake eggs might help to deter them from eating the real eggs, but gathering the real ones frequently at first will help too.

 

 

I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

 

The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

 

Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

 

Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.


Edited by aart - 5/29/16 at 4:12pm

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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