Chickens eating styrafoam

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by clucknorris1, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. clucknorris1

    clucknorris1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 18, 2016
    So we have 3 hens and a rooster - one of the hens is about 6-7 months and laying daily, the rest are approaching 6 months and haven't started laying yet. They love to sit on our porch - we've been trying for months to discourage them because the poop drives us crazy, but it's fully sheltered so no wind, no snow, no predators, and needless to say it's going to take some serious work to get them to stay off if it's even possible. The coop is big enough but the run is really designed for them to free range most of the time (although we will be covering the top and one of the sides in the next week to make it more appealing and keep out snow for winter).

    The issue is actually with the porch itself - our house is insulated with styrafoam. Some of the styrafoam framing the entrance is exposed and the chickens have recently become obsessed with pecking it. I catch them at least once a day with styrafoam "beards" and I'm sure they are injesting some of it.

    We chased them off every time they came off for 2 weeks straight in the summer (we tried spray bottles, chasing them off with a pool noodle, but it's enticing enough that nothing really stops them from trying. It doesn't help that there's a ground-level window with a small ledge so they can roost and watch "human tv" in comfort). I'm certainly open to ideas; at the moment I'm looking into clicker-training our rooster - he's pretty receptive and tends to be the one leading them to the spot, although I'm certain the hens would still come up on their own if he weren't around.

    I wasn't really concerned - I figured it would go right through them - but hubby mentioned the other day that it's possible we shouldn't be eating the eggs. I came across an older thread on BYC where someone said that eggs shouldn't be consumed for a week after the hen has consumed a toxin, although there were no references to support the statement.

    So my question is, can we safely eat the eggs our hen is laying knowing she may be consuming a small amount of styrafoam? We only get one egg a day, so I really don't want to lose them - we just got to stop buying store-bought eggs! And how can I discourage them from pecking the styrafoam?
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Flock Master

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    I can't really answer your first question, I don't know how many "toxins" are in styrofoam and if any will leach into the eggs - this is something you will have to research and come to a comfortable decision on your own.

    Chickens LOVE styrofoam, if they see it, they will eat it.

    Fencing is one of the easiest ways of keeping chickens out of areas that are "off limits".
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You really do need to fasten some 1/4 inch hardware cloth or wood panel over the styrofoam. A little bit won't harm your chickens, but a lot is going to cause problems eventually, perhaps gumming up their digestive systems. I'm sure that would be more cost effective than building a fence.

    As for eating the eggs, I would bet you get far more toxic exposure from the pesticides and dyes that are in the corporate agricultural food we all are sold than what little might turn up in your eggs from a minute amount of styrofoam.
  4. clucknorris1

    clucknorris1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 18, 2016
    Thanks for the tips! I'm going to see if some tight mesh will do the trick or otherwise a board in front of it - I would have to attach anything else to the stucco that will eventually be a nice part of the entrance. I've started shovelling snow ON to the porch so it's less desirable to get close to it - there are other spots around now that are nicer on their feet. Azygous, you really hit the nail on the head for me with the toxic exposure.... at least I know what I'm consuming, and it'd be far more likely to kill them than me anyway, so I'll focus my concern on not doing damage to their digestive system and either block it off or ruin all the fun with snow. We definitely couldn't fence, we are on a 13 acre rural property and would have to fence our house it... it would look super weird and these ladies tend to fly pretty high anyway, I watched one hit about 10 feet the other night in an attempt to fly from the porch to the coop without touching the snow (she was not successful but I carried her the rest of the way ;) ).

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by