Chickens Disappearing from Hen House

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ShawnaScott, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. ShawnaScott

    ShawnaScott Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2013
    Frankfort, IN
    Hello all! I've had a bad year for coyotes/hawks, so I decided a couple of months ago to not let the chickens free range any more. They've literally been inside a large, well ventilated (but all the windows/vents are covered in chicken wire) coop for two months solid. I've been noticing that I haven't been getting any eggs for about 4 weeks. Yesterday morning I watered the chickens and noticed an egg, but my hands were full so I didn't grab it right away. A couple hours later I came back out to grab it and it was gone! I thought maybe the chickens had eaten it, but I found no shell parts or a wet spot where they yolk would have been...

    Also, one of my chickens just disappeared. It's just gone.

    What on earth could be doing this?
  2. MamaDoodle

    MamaDoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2013
    My Coop
    Go check your coop for ANY holes or spaces and close them ASAP.

    I've heard of opossums doing this. A hawk or large snake is highly unlikely. Are there any signs of struggle, like other upset hens or feathers?

    Also, chicken wire does not stop any predators, replace it with hardware cloth! I know from experience...
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  3. Could be one if any number of critters - but the real issue isnt "what did it", but rather "how are they getting in and how do I prevent that".

    You migh need another set of eyes on your coop to see if you can spot where the thief is getting in/out.
  4. JanetS

    JanetS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2012
    You might try using a game camera. This can be your extra set of eyes. Do you have a run? If not, that could be why your not getting to many eggs. Your chickens need to be able to go outside.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Practically every egg in the grocery store is proof they don’t “need” to go outside, but I agree it’s “better” if they do.

    It sounds like you could have a couple of different things going on. From your post they were laying well for a month after you locked them inside, so that change was not a cause. But the days are getting shorter. This time of year, that is the cause of a molt and them to stop or really slow down laying eggs. Have you noticed a lot of extra feathers around the coop? This could be part of your problem.

    But you had a known egg and a chicken disappear. So, as others have suggested, make sure you don’t have openings an animal can use to get in. It’s possible the two are not related though. How big was that chicken?

    When eggs or chickens disappear without a trace, one suspect is a human. Kind of creepy to think about, but I have to mention that. If there is no way a chicken could get out or something else get in, I have trouble coming up with anything else to explain the chicken if the door was locked.

    It’s kind of unusual for wild animal type predators to get every egg over a time period. A snake will come every two or three days, eat a few eggs, then spend a couple of days digesting them before it eats again. Snakes can get in and out of pretty small holes and the eggs disappear without a trace.

    The only other wild animal I can think of that can get through really small holes and eat eggs is rats. They don’t eat the shells though and they would likely leave a bit of a soggy mess behind. It’s possible though that the hens themselves would clean up the egg shell, especially if it is a rare egg because of the molt. And chickens like to scratch when they are confined in a coop. Maybe there scratching is covering up the soggy mess?

    It’s possible one of your chickens has learned to open an egg to eat it. A lot of chickens will eat an egg that is already broken, the insides or the shell. To me that is natural and does not make them an egg eater. It’s when one learns to open and egg to eat it that it is a problem. I had one that would open an egg to eat it once. She would only open one or two a day and there was usually evidence left behind, shell and/or a soggy mess. But they don’t all act the same way so you can’t totally rule out an egg eater to explain the eggs.

    Do you somehow have a pet dog that has access and has learned that the egg song is an invitation to a snack?

    I’ll even mention something silly. Is it possible that due to the molt egg production is way down and that was a really rare egg that got scratched around and is now buried under bedding?

    I sure wish you luck on sorting this one out. It doesn’t sound easy.

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