Are egg-eaters breed specific?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bjw113, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. bjw113

    bjw113 Out Of The Brooder

    94
    0
    39
    May 18, 2010
    Pikeville, TN
    We are devastated! We have 23 hens, 11 Buff Orpingtons, 12 Plymouth White Rocks. They were born around the 17th of May 2010. Egg laying started between the end of October-November. We were getting anywhere between 12 to 18 eggs a night. Then last week, I only got 2 one day. So I figured I'd get a ton the next day. Only two again. I have egg eaters and with so many birds I don't know how to determine which ones they are. Diet is not the problem as they have tremendous amount of feed, grit, oyster shell, water and treats daily. What would cause them to start. I had a few soft shell messy eggs back in October/November when they started laying, but why now? Are any breeds less likely to do this than others? What did we do wrong? We have tried mustard in eggs, golf balls, etc., etc. to try to break this and it just started in the last few days. We can't stay in the hen house and building another nesting box configuration is out of the question. We hesitate to get more chickens until we find out what we did wrong this time. I think we are going to plant real eggs in the nesting boxes and watch for the predatory chickens and separate them out and destroy them. I just don't want to get rid of all my chickens but we can't keep feeding and housing these chickens that are eating all their eggs. HELP please. I am truly devastated. [​IMG]
     
  2. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

    433
    6
    121
    Dec 27, 2009
    First off, if you haven't already done so, make sure your chickens aren't laying somewhere else. if one hen found a different "cool" spot to lay, the others would follow suit.

    I don't believe egg eating is breed specific, but that doesn't mean one can't learn it from another. The thing is to go from 18 eggs a day down to 2 overnight and consistently seems a little odd to me.

    It is possible for it to be only one or two chickens eating them. Another poster on here said her hen was eating 6-8 a day! I would plant the eggs and see if they get eaten. If they are still there the next day, then they are probably laying elsewhere. If they are eaten then I think you will have to be able to watch them somehow to catch the culprit(s).

    If your hens are cooped up in a relatively small space, is it possible they are getting bored and looking for things to do? If so, maybe you could add some things to their coop/run that would make life more interesting for them.

    I wish you luck with it all and I hope it turns out they are only laying somewhere else!

    CJ
     
  3. KimberlyJ

    KimberlyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

    749
    2
    121
    Jun 13, 2010
    I may have the same problem but on a much smaller scale. I'll be watching your thread for ideas for me too [​IMG] I agree with you--it's devastating....what AM I DOING WRONG NOW???[​IMG]
     
  4. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

    433
    6
    121
    Dec 27, 2009
    Quote:You're not doing anything wrong!! Usually egg eating happens by accident the first time. You know, a hen lays an egg that gets cracked and tastes it and man it tastes so good, you can't hardly blame them for eating more! The problem is the others will learn it from her and so on and so on. That is why it is imperative to seperate out the "bad" girls as soon as possible. Then there are many ways to try to break the habit. The thing is, from what I have read on here, the roll away nest box is the only sure fire way.

    CJ
     
  5. bjw113

    bjw113 Out Of The Brooder

    94
    0
    39
    May 18, 2010
    Pikeville, TN
    My husband is going to build a roll away egg box today and we are also going to put out some "decoy" eggs and watch who goes after them. When a chicken breaks the egg, she'll go in the kennel. We're going to try to flush out the worst offenders today and then watch closely. I have ordered some ceramic brown eggs from McMurray to put out also as I think my chickens don't even give the golf balls a second glance. My hope is that we only will have to cull a few birds and the others hopefully will be fine. I'll keep an eye for new posts too. I'm still heartsick at having to cull any of my girls, but that is better than culling my whole flock! Best luck to you too!
     
  6. Jesseschickens

    Jesseschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    306
    0
    119
    Jan 4, 2010
    somewhere in Pa
    Your main problem is your hens are BOARD they had to find a new form of entertainment. When you have egg eaters they do learn from eachother. THIS IS A HARD HABBIT TO BREAK YOUR HENS FROM. find out what time of day your hens lay the most eggs and if possible go collect them at that time. Try diffrent treats. Take an empty mesh bag(onion Bags work well) and put a head of cabage in it then take a piece of twine and tie it from something so it is a couple of feet of the ground and throug scratch grain under it so they notice they will jump and try to get top the treats and that should keep them busy for a while. Are you offering scratch grain???ANd do you have enough nesting boxes?? A good way too make them look for the scratch grain is sprinkle it in their litter and mixe it around. My hens spend hours looking for it. Also try giving your hens tuna they are looking for the protine that is in eggs also try scrambling a dozen eggs every week shell and all to feed to them.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,451
    3,564
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    When you say you tried mustard and it didn't work, what does that mean? Did they eat the mustard egg, not touch it, etc. Are you finding any parts of shell or sticky yolk left? Chickens don't have tongues and I've found there's usually a mess left where they ate an egg. This
    just seems like a lot of eggs very fast and I'm thinking there may be another reason your production is down. How much room do you have for 23 hens? If they free range AT ALL, I would go on a serious egg hunt. Or look to see if your dog's coat is suddenly really shiney [​IMG]

    Okay, edited cause I know someone's gonna come on here---chickens do so have tongues---but they can't really lick things up like a mammal can. Thass what I mean [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    67,424
    20,497
    886
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Egg eating is a learned behavior. A hen eats a soft shelled egg that breaks in the nest and says "Hey, that's good stuff." She then moves on to breaking eggs and shows her flockmates how to do the same. Caught early on with the elimination of the trouble maker egg eating can be controlled. Once they can get outside and range egg eating also decreases. Roll away nest boxes solve the problem also hanging something across the front of the nest boxes to darken them can help control this behavior. Good luck for a positive resolution.
     
  9. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    34,028
    462
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    A little more information would help. Size of coop and run and number of birds for a start. Also, are you absolutely sure they are eating eggs? Have you seen one do it or found egg on their beaks?

    Over the years I have had several instances of a hen eating an egg, for various reasons, such as a soft shell, or it got broken with their clumsiness or not enough bedding in the nest. But the flock has never picked up the habit of egg eating.
     
  10. bjw113

    bjw113 Out Of The Brooder

    94
    0
    39
    May 18, 2010
    Pikeville, TN
    Well, we have a 12 x 20 chicken house. 23 chickens. Two roosting areas. 6 chickens boxes. They are not free ranged at this point in time. They get daily treats of cabbage, or turnip greens, black oil sunflower seeds, scratch. I have them on 16% or 20% protein laying pellets, Four gallons of fresh water changed daily. I had been getting 8 - 12 eggs a day (up to 18 one day) and just 4 days ago, i only received 2. Figured I would get a lot the next day. Only received 2 the next day. Was suspicious and started noticing large wet spots in the nesting boxes. My husband camped out one day and was watching for several hours. He saw a few suspicious chickens checking out the nesting boxes and thought they might be the problem when all the sudden there was a ruckus behind them, and a hen had laid an egg on the floor and 6 or 7 chickens had grabbed it and shattered it and ran in opposites sides on the chicken house. I experienced the same thing today. We have been going out 7-8 times a day (which I find ridiculous). I have ordered ceramic eggs to put in the barn to distract them and hopefully discourage them. I put mustard in plastic eggs and had them eat that out of them to no avail and my husband is getting ready to build a slanted nesting box for the eggs to be hidden. Hopefully I can get the rest of my hens to lay in the boxes instead of the floor. Thanks for the input.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by