Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,909
33,678
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British Columbia, Canada
Firstly, these are not my chickens, and I don’t agree with their husbandry. I am trying to convince the owner to let me take over their management. There are 8 Red Sex link layers and 1 Columbia rock in a 6x8 foot dog pen with a 2x6 nighttime coop at the top of it. One sex link went broodyish then after about 2 weeks started eating 1 egg a day. Now several are doing it and the owner keeps threatening we put them all in the indoor coop which is 8x8 total confinement and already has 12 hens in there!

I’m thinking that living conditions aside, the egg eating might have something to do with the feeding regimen/diet. All the new chickens have heavily trimmed (or maybe completely debeaked?) beaks, they are missing 2/3 or more of the top beak. She feeds 50% layer pellets and 50% whole wheat. Maybe they are going for the eggs because of texture. Should we try soaking the feed or switching to crumbles?

Please remember they are not my chickens, and I’m trying to improve their conditions, not all owners care for chickens as much as the people on this site. I don’t want to see them all locked in the indoor coop, which has scaly leg mites and a lice problem (which I am treating but the coop is 60 years old and wood, so it’s an ongoing challenge)
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
30,933
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NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
Firstly, these are not my chickens, and I don’t agree with their husbandry. I am trying to convince the owner to let me take over their management. There are 8 Red Sex link layers and 1 Columbia rock in a 6x8 foot dog pen with a 2x6 nighttime coop at the top of it. One sex link went broodyish then after about 2 weeks started eating 1 egg a day. Now several are doing it and the owner keeps threatening we put them all in the indoor coop which is 8x8 total confinement and already has 12 hens in there!

I’m thinking that living conditions aside, the egg eating might have something to do with the feeding regimen/diet. All the new chickens have heavily trimmed (or maybe completely debeaked?) beaks, they are missing 2/3 or more of the top beak. She feeds 50% layer pellets and 50% whole wheat. Maybe they are going for the eggs because of texture. Should we try soaking the feed or switching to crumbles?

Please remember they are not my chickens, and I’m trying to improve their conditions, not all owners care for chickens as much as the people on this site. I don’t want to see them all locked in the indoor coop, which has scaly leg mites and a lice problem (which I am treating but the coop is 60 years old and wood, so it’s an ongoing challenge)

Locking them up in the coop is not going to stop them eating eggs. That is usually the path most go to get pullets who have been laying their eggs willy nilly to lay in the nest boxes.
Let's say that the layer feed is a high 22% protein (which, based on what you are writing, I sincerely doubt). Mixing it 50/50 with wheat is bringing down their total protein to a paltry 11% and that is just not enough. Cutting the layer feed this way must stop first and foremost. They are craving protein.
I would also think that switching them to an 18 or 20% would be a good start to getting them back on track.
Put several ceramic eggs in each nest box. Hopefully, a couple of unsuccessful jabs at one will help to discourage the egg eating behavior after their protein deficiency issue has been addressed.
I'm sure there are others that will chime in on additional ways to break this very bad habit.
Good luck! And thanks for trying to help these girls out.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,909
33,678
942
British Columbia, Canada
It is a 17% protein layer feed mixed with the whole grain, that they have access to free choice in a hanging feeder, sadly there are no nest boxes in their coop space, but they usually lay in the back corner. We already have some plastic eggs in there, I will pick up some ceramic ones when I go into town next.

I really wish they had some outside access in the old coop. I am building some tractors for my own chickens, and will be building extra in hopes of getting them out on pasture soon. Some older people are reluctant to change...

I will start giving them some of my fermented 22% starter mash in the afternoons as well.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,909
33,678
942
British Columbia, Canada
Once a chicken eats an egg , it goes in the Sunday dumplin pot.
We have a provincially inspected abattoir on the farm, but the whole family refuses to process chickens. Apparently they are “the absolute worst” things to eviscerate! Popular opinion on the farm... I haven’t tried it myself yet, but will be growing out some meat birds this spring...
 

wildthing40486

In the Brooder
Nov 22, 2018
15
26
36
We have a provincially inspected abattoir on the farm, but the whole family refuses to process chickens. Apparently they are “the absolute worst” things to eviscerate! Popular opinion on the farm... I haven’t tried it myself yet, but will be growing out some meat birds this spring...

Is real easy to eviscerate , just don't waste your time plucking feathers . is easy and fast when you just skin it.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,909
33,678
942
British Columbia, Canada
Well, even if I can’t break these girls of the egg eating, I’m planning on expanding and refining the egg sales with my own chickens this coming year. I’m hopefully taking over all the chickens and moving that aspect of the farm to the other end where I will be living soon, I just have to prove that pasture raising is viable and get it up and running well. My aunt in law (our farm manager) hates chickens, but likes her farm fresh eggs.
 

Emojikitten

Songster
Mar 26, 2017
92
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Earth
Putting them under more stress will not help at all! It will most likely decrease egg production and start fights between the hens. Tell your manager that.

Now, for the egg laying. They may not be getting enough calcium. Put blended egg shells (warning, they stink really bad!) or buy some grinded oyster shells to mix with their food. This will help them get more calcium that they need. This will probably make them stop. If it doesn't, then I don't know what to do.

I hope this helps!
 

[email protected]

~ Dreaming Of Springtime ~
Aug 18, 2017
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Caliente Nevada
If the eggs are collected promptly and perhaps a couple times a day this will help greatly.
Sounds like boredom is a factor along with the cramped confinement.
I believe you mentioned a second pen? Could you split them up between the two? Allowing for more space?
 

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