Are my chickens really this smart? (egg eating & ceramic egg colors)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by starchicky, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. starchicky

    starchicky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 14, 2013
    Oregon
    So I have two adult laying hens, one lays light brown eggs, the other lays darker brown eggs. I have been using light brown ceramic eggs to help them use the nest boxes for laying and discourage egg eating. I also have two pullets who should be laying soon, they are 23 weeks old now. I have been trying to watch for eggs all over the coop to check if they have started laying.

    Lately I have only been finding light brown eggs and very little dark brown ones. Then the other day I found a broken egg on the ground outside the coop and so did the pullets! One of them ran off with it and ate the rest of the shell (the shell was on the soft side)

    This got me wondering if they are going after the dark brown eggs? Since the ceramic ones are light brown. The hen that lays the light brown eggs is also much more attentive to her eggs and where they are, she is the top of the pecking order too and is very protective of food, etc. So that could make the dark brown eggs more of a target.

    I think there could also be nutritional issues going on for the pullets, they always seem to be scrambling for food, being scared off by the older hens. I tend to have to put out a secondary bowl of feed away from the older hens so that they pullets can eat.

    So maybe they are eating their own eggs after laying them outside on the ground?

    Could there be a possibility that the older hen is kicking out eggs that aren't her's from the coop?
    Or that she is keeping the pullets out of the coop and they have to lay outside on the ground?
    I do have hay both in the coop and on the ground outside, so maybe if I rake up the hay and just keep it in the next boxes?
    Or maybe if I try putting a ceramic egg outside on the ground? (but that might encourage them to lay there?)
    Does anyone use different colored ceramic eggs?

    I can't imagine the chickens actually being able to tell color difference.....I'd just like to make sure I am helping my pullets know where to lay and get the nutrition they need despite the older hens [​IMG]
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens can see color better then we can but they don't care about different colored eggs. If an egg cracks they will eat it but this doesn't mean that they will have an egg eating problem. I have had a few crack from freezing and I'll throw them on the ground for my chickens to eat. Mine have never cracked one open to eat themselves. If they are soft shelled they will also eat them. The older girls will run them away from food and nest boxes until they start to lay. It may be that not all of your pullets have started yet. Pullet eggs are not daily from the get go, they usually get the hang of it within a month. Expect some chest bumping for pecking order as they all start to lay. Every time you feed you will want to have the second bowl on the other side until they all start laying to make sure that everyone is getting the proper amount of feed to produce eggs. Also, the days are still short and even the experienced layers have a hard time laying almost every day. Sometimes I will get a first timer (for up to a week) layer that has what I call an oops egg. This is where they were just walking along and an egg popped out. They didn't know it was going to happen, it just did. This may be your reason for finding them in the run.
     
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  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Good advice given there...I agree. Getting chickens to lay in the nest is not a big issue with birds kept in a coop and run situation, so no need to seed the nest for that. The eating issues can be solved by switching from bowls to long trough style feeders where they can line up on both sides.

    As was mentioned, egg laying is sputtery and iffy when pullets start out and especially at this time of the year when all chickens are revving up on laying...the reproductive system may have some odd eggs, soft shells, thin shells, etc. You don't have to worry about egg eating...it's a mythical beast that comes out a couple of times a year to haunt the forums and scare new chicken owners into baiting nests with fake eggs and hot sauce filled eggs. It's not a nutritional thing or a behavior thing..it's a natural thing and will go away as soon as egg shells firm up again.

    I'd take away all the fake eggs, make nest boxes nice and deep with a good amount of hay in them, increase feeder space and then just let the chickens do what they do best. It will all work out just fine...all these little things are just chicken life and nothing to be concerned about.
     
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  4. starchicky

    starchicky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 14, 2013
    Oregon
    Thank you so much for the advice! I think the idea of an oops egg makes sense, lol. I also think the feeder that has trough on either side would help a lot. Right now it is a pvc pipe feeder up against one side of the pen, and the older hens tend to monopolize it. Plus if the body of the trough is hiding their view of each other on either side they might ignore each other more? I can see now that they definitely don't have enough feeding space for all four at a time, only two at a time. I would like to make the nest boxes a bit deeper too, they tend to be able to roll eggs out and make nests in other spots inside the roost area. The pullets have definitely been chest bumping each other lately, so the hormones are raging!
     

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