Chicken's are eating their eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cnicho05, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. cnicho05

    cnicho05 Chirping

    Feb 22, 2014
    Owosso, MI

    Here in Michigan we've already begun to experience some very cold winter weather and a change in the amount of light which we have each day. To offset this change I've installed a light which works both inside the coop and outside of the coop and runs during the early morning hours.

    Almost three months ago I noticed a sudden drop in egg production from my eight hens. I just felt like this was the result of the drop in temperature (which had begun in early October) and the fact that the day was shorter. I didn't give it much thought and went on like normal...

    The other day while working outside I decided to collect the eggs from the coop. When I went to collect them I opened the door to find what looked like two smashed egg shells. After some investigation I found more specks of egg shells scattered throughout the bottom of the coop...underneath the bedding.

    When looking at the situation as a whole I believe my hens have begun to lay a result of the weather...and are eating the eggs they do produce. On top of this, I've noticed the amount of feed/water consumed by my hens has also dropped quite drastically.

    Why might this be...and how can I resolve the egg issue?
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Chickens will eat any broken egg, however it gets broken. How often do you normally collect them? Could the be getting kicked around? Egg eating happens more often in older flocks, I believe. Also, it might result from poor nutrition, so if yours aren't even eating what you give them, that also sheds some doubt. What exactly do you feed them? Could they have perhaps gotten a batch of stale or moldy feed? I don;t know that you don't have egg esters, but I think some other possibilities might bew worth looking into.

    Although this article says it can start from accidentally breaking eggs, which may be true, it is also true that some chicken keepers routinesy break any overly soiled or cracked eggs onto the coop floor so the chickens can eat the contents, without ever developing an egg eating flock.

    Good luck!
  3. cnicho05

    cnicho05 Chirping

    Feb 22, 2014
    Owosso, MI
    Thanks for the reply,

    Normally I collect eggs at the end of each evening (as I work 6:45 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.). Since I don't get home until after dark I believe this is why I didn't initially notice the small egg shell fragments. The feed I use is simple "Egg-Laying Pellets" and for treats I feed cracked corn, whole corn and some chicken scratch...typically on the weekends.

    When I say they are eating less I mean...I have a 5 gallon feeder connected to a filling pipe (which holds another 3-4 gallons of feed). For my four Rhone Island Reds, two Jersey Giants and two Sebright Bantams I was using a filled feeder and pipe every six days. Lately, when I fill the feeder I notice almost 1/2 of the feed is untouched. When I feed cracked corn or other treats the chickens are slow to eating it.

    Lastly, this flock is younger and it's the first winter for this flock...and for me as a chicken owner.
  4. CB3fish

    CB3fish Songster

    May 22, 2014
    Why would you try to defeat the normal daylight hours? It might be good to let nature have its effect. In Michigan winters it is really cold and the hens will not lay much, needing their energy to stay alive.
    If you have chickens which are eating eggs, my folks would put them in the stew pot. Some folks tell of putting mustard in the egg, first using a straw to draw out the contents and them fill with mustard and putting it back in the nest hoping to cure that habit.
    At a friends place I saw a hen lay an egg, get up and immediately eat the egg, as well, another chicken jumped up into the nesting area and joined her eating that egg! If they were mine, I would have had a 2 chicken dinner. I do not think much can be done except eliminate the egg eaters. Hard to do but life can be hard.
    I suspect I have a rooster which eats eggs. I have found the hay wet in the nesting area. I got glass eggs which are so real, I had to mark them to tell the difference; and put 3 in the nesting area, I saw that rooster go in and when he came out, I checked and found the glass eggs scattered all over the area, he must have pecked his head off to no effect!! I leave 3 glass eggs in one coop and 2 in another. I gather eggs as soon as I can and so far have lost none. If he does start again, and I am sure he is the guilty one,
    ( I could do a test, put a glass egg on the ground and watch to see who attacks it)_ he will be chicken soup, sorry.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    What are the ingredients and nutrition percentages on the label on the feed?
    Are you providing oyster shells in a separate container?
    I think intentional egg eating can point to a lack of calcium and/or protein(animal protein).
    Maybe try treats of animal protein instead of grains.....meal worms, meat scraps, scrambled eggs.

    Are you certain that the feed is not getting wet and molding in that big of a storage feeder?
    I like to keep a closer eye on the feed by putting out what they need(or a little more) in 24 hours each day at the same time.

    My notes on feed and lighting, might give you some clues and/or ideas:

    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat and have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.

    Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.

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