Crazy Egg Laying Behavior

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RachelEllen, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. RachelEllen

    RachelEllen Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 25, 2015
    I have two youngish Barred Rocks. They live in a 12 ft sq coop with two attached nest boxes connected to a 20 ft enclosed run. Until today, no sign of egg laying. The only odd behavior I was dealing with was a refusal to roost at night. I moved them, nightly from the nest box to the roost where they would stay all night. They roosted happily outside during the day.

    So, today, for the first time, we saw an egg. However, it was outside, was empty, and had a hole pecked in it. Also, for the first time, they had removed all the straw bedding from both nest boxes. They were bare! I put the nest boxes back together and put some dummy eggs in one. One girl prompt went for the dummy egg, but gave up when pecking did no good. I gave them some extra food and oyster shell which they ate.

    Any ideas? I know egg eating is a really tough behavior. But why would they peck and eat the very first egg? And whats up with destroying the nest box? Any thoughts on fixing this?
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Young hens seem to get rowdy in the nestboxes, messing and fussing a lot, it's quite normal so be prepared for it to go on for a bit, the egg eating might have started because the egg broke when layed because of no nesting material, make sure you have a nice lip on your boxes and put multiple ceramics eggs or golfballs in the nest to discourage egg eating, also make sure they are getting enough protein in their diet. Keep a ration available all day, as well as oyster shells and grit.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto the goofy behavior when first laying.

    Curiosity peck breaking the egg then eating is it not unusual.
    Was the shell good and thick?
    Breaking and eating thin or softshell eggs is pretty common.

    Hopefully the fake eggs will help teach them not to continue breaking intact eggs,
    gather eggs as often as possible to lessen the chance they keep practicing on real eggs.

    Here's something I just read on egg eating by @BigV , makes a lot of sense:
    I reintroduced the 2 fake eggs i used when my pullets first began to lay.
    I started by putting them in the nesting boxes. I then took one of the fakes and walked around the run and dropped it on the ground. Immediately all 6 hens ran over and began pecking the fake egg. Within a minute or 2 they lost interest. I did this several times during the week. After the 3rd time, my hens paid no attention to the egg after i dropped it. I now leave the 2 fake eggs in the nest boxes and have not had any more eggs eaten.

    My Notes on New Layers:
    New layers can be quite goofy acting, they don't know what they are doing at first and can be confused and anxious, it can take up to a month or so before they get it all figured out. Putting some fake eggs or golf balls in the nest might help show them where to lay. They may scratch around in the nests for weeks before laying, spreading the bedding everywhere.They will scratch around a bit less in nest as they get used to the routine. Meanwhile, eggs everywhere, some of them can be rather funky looking, soft or thin shelled, huge double yolked eggs.

    Signs of onset of lay---I've found the pelvic points to be the most accurate.
    If you touch their back they will hunker down on the ground, then shake their tail feathers when they get back up.
    This shows they are sexually mature and egg laying is close at hand.

    Combs and Wattles:
    Plump, shiny red - usually means laying.
    Shriveled, dryish looking and pale - usually means not laying.
    Tho I have found that the combs and wattles can look full and red one minute then pale back out the next due to exertion or excitement, can drive ya nuts when waiting for a pullet to lay!

    2 bony points(pelvic bones) on either side of vent:
    Less than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means not laying.
    More than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means laying.

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015

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