Thanks for the speedy replies everybody! I really appreciate you all so much.
I do check for eggs multiple times a day (I work at home, so I visit them & take out treats) but I have rollaway nest boxes, and as soon as they lay, the girls keep the egg from rolling down and peck it open.
So when I stick my hand in to check the rollaway chute, I pull out a gooey sticky mess of broken eggshells and poop. yuck.
How do you keep them from pooping in there? They never roost in there so that's not the issue...
They don't eat the whole egg - just as much as possible before it rolls away from them.
The shells are all very hard - and they have all the oyster shell they want... As far as protein they are on Del's layer - maybe I should switch to different food? I will go tomorrow and get something else.
Can't free range them because our soil is arsenic contaminated (Tacoma Asarco Smelter) I do give them lots of greens grown in my raised beds though, and scrap veggies, etc.
Unfortunately I suspect it is not just one bird but rather all of them who are egg eating.
I coaxed a broody out of the nest box to drink the other day, and she came out COVERED in poop and broken egg shells - and she was so sticky that 2 eggs were stuck to her feathers (gross) and so she could hardly walk. All the other birds DOVE for those eggs stuck to her IMMEDIATELY and started pecking at them like it was their favorite treat.
Is it normal for a broody to sit in the box pooping and eating eggs?
My broodies also gets really sticky because one girl still occasionally lays a shell-less egg and squirts it all over the broody. (often 2 girls go in the box at a time) So whoever is broody is always matted with poop and egg, with shells stuck all over her - it's a complete stinky, sticky mess.
Maybe they got the taste for egg from the girl who lays the shell-less eggs? (I can't figure out who it is though!) She still does it once a week or so.
They have 2x more run and coop space than recommended so I don't think it's overcrowding. (6 birds in a 16x4' run, coop is 4x8, 8' long roost) And 2 nest boxes. They lay equally between the 2 boxes, and peck open equally in both boxes.
If they are doing these behaviors because they can't free range, then I guess there is no point in trying again with another batch... I'm so so sad!
Thanks for your encouragement & advice everyone! Maybe switching to a different food will help... I'll keep you all updated!