cannibal chickens . . . help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pdxblossom, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. pdxblossom

    pdxblossom In the Brooder

    Jul 11, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    We have three hens, two light brahmas and one bantam. They lay between 1 - 3 eggs per day. They are in a coop most of the weekday, out for a couple of hours each afternoon and all day Saturday/Sunday. They get along, their water is changed daily and they are eating well - organic layer, bugs in the yards and occasional kitchen scraps and treats (boss, meal worms, vegetables, oatmeal). They have access at all times to oyster shells and grit.

    This past Saturday, as I was cleaning the coop I discovered an egg that was outside the laying box. I accidentally punctured it with my pitchfork. While I was tending to other matters, one of the hens started to eat the egg. I got her out of the coop, finished cleaning and thought that was the end of it. Yesterday one of the eggs had a strange hole at the very top of the egg - it didn't really look like had been pecked, maybe just deformed. Today, when I got home I found one egg totally smashed open and empty.

    How do I curb this behavior? Squirrels also get into the coop during the day when the door is open. Could they have eaten the egg?

    Any advice welcome.

  2. If its been in the same nest box, close that one off for a couple days, change their routine, toys, I have also heard mustard in a "decoy" egg in the nest will help, they hate mustard. Make sure they are getting enough protein and calcium and that they are not just hungry. Its hard to stop, hopefully someone else will drop in with some other things that have worked for them. Usually a day or two of freeranging helps with mine when they get bored and get into trouble! Good luck
  3. BooBear

    BooBear Chicken Cuddler

    Oct 7, 2010
    Conroe, Texas
    You unwittingly taught your chickie that eggs taste good by leaving the damaged egg by the pitch fork available.
    Now she has associated the egg as something good to eat.

    You need to remove all eggs as soon as they lay. Normally they lay in the morning, each bird is a bit different. Put some fake eggs in the nest so that it would discourage pecking.

    There are some other great tips floating around in the forums so hopefully others with similiar experience can chime in with the solutions that they used.
  4. crawfordmama

    crawfordmama Songster

    Jun 29, 2010
    The Lakes Region, NH
    Egg eating is very hard to break. As the others have said, you will need to remove eggs as soon as possible, and add some wooden/plastic eggs to the nests. This way, when the girls peck at the fake eggs, they get nothing, and will think that all eggs are like this. Good luck.

  5. Kathleen1115

    Kathleen1115 In the Brooder

    Jan 21, 2011
    I came on the forum tonight to ask this exact question!

    My girls are just starting to lay so I've been watching them carefully. Two have started, are using the nesting boxes perfectly, no mishaps. My two BOs have seemed just on the verge of laying and have been in and out of the boxes, are squatting, etc. Tonight when I went out to close up the coop, one of them was sitting in the box and the other was on the perch just outside watching her vary intently. I opened the hatch on the outside of the nesting boxes to take the egg if there was one and she was in the process of laying -- she let me watch and it was fascinating! When it came out it was milky and translucent and had a lot of what looked like mucus around it. I thought maybe it had to harden so I left it and when I came back, it was gone with some white and yolk left in the box. I cleaned out the box but am assuming either she or her sister ate it! If it was a "defective" first egg, could she have just been cleaning up after herself?

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