disappearing eggs

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by hill top, Jan 16, 2016.

  1. hill top

    hill top New Egg

    Jan 16, 2016
    I started off with 10 eggs which my broody australope is sitting on, now there are 7! There is no sign of any shells or debris around the nesting box or hen house. Can anyone tell me what is taking the eggs.
  2. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 14, 2015
    Northern Colorado
    Predator, like a weasel or rat, snake maybe... Do you have any issues with specific predators or a time of day when it happened?

    Or egg eaters. They will eat the whole thing, not leave a bit if evidence.

    My daughter is usually the culprit on missing eggs lol ;)

    I would watch the hens, personally. Remove the eggs as soon as you find them as well, just in case it is an egg eater.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  3. hayley3

    hayley3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 16, 2007
    Southern Indiana
    That is weird that nothing is left...skunks and possums normally leave the eggshells, in my experience anyway. It's too cold here for snakes, not sure where you are.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’m not sure where you are located. With a broody hen right now you are likely south of the equator so you could have predators different to the ones I’m used to. If it is warm weather snakes can be active.

    I’ve had a snake eat eggs out from under a broody hen before. I walked in the coop one time and found a five feet long snake in the nest with the broody. She was just sitting there as if in a trance. There have been a few other times that I suspect this. The normal pattern for a snake is that the snake eats some eggs, how many depends on the size of the snake, and goes away for a few days to digest them. Then it comes back for more. If it is a snake expect it back in two to four days. When a snake eats an egg it swallows it whole and leaves no trace.

    A canine will also take an egg and leave no trace but I doubt it is a canine. Some dogs may go after the eggs only but most canines would just take the chicken. I doubt they’d only take three and leave seven either.

    The only other predator that would take an egg and leave no trace I’m familiar with is a human. I’ll let you judge how likely that is.

    Do you have another broody hen that has had three unexplained eggs show up in her nest? I know, it sounds silly, but on extremely rare occasions broody hens have been known to move an egg from another nest back to their clutch. I really don’t think this is it but I’m trying for all possibilities of leave no trace.

    In North America some critters like skunks, rats, or possums might prefer the eggs to eating chicken meat but these normally leave the shells behind. They normally eat the eggs in the nest. A raccoon might carry the eggs off to a nearby safe place to eat them but you should see a pile of shells nearby. Weasels will eat eggs but they chew a hole in the ends and lick the egg dry. I’d expect a weasel or raccoon to be more interested in the chicken instead of the eggs but you never know. None of these eat the shell themselves but more or less lick the egg out after they open it.

    While all these normally leave some sign, such as the shells, that doesn’t mean you can totally dismiss them if you did not see shell fragments. Sometimes the chickens will clean up the shell fragments themselves. I would not expect all the shell fragments from three eggs to be cleaned up under a broody hen, more likely if the nest is open, but with living animals you can’t totally rule out anything.

    This is not an inclusive list. Some birds will eat eggs. It’s quite possible you live somewhere that you have a critter I’m not familiar with. I strongly suspect a snake. Three eggs disappearing from under a broody hen with no traces left is something I’m really familiar with. When I recognize the signs I put the rest of the eggs in my incubator and leave fake eggs under the broody. When the eggs hatch I give them back to the broody to raise. That’s worked pretty well so far, but I have an incubator.
  5. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 14, 2015
    Northern Colorado

    Oh! I missed in the original post that she was broody lol ;)

    She might have kicked them out, too.. Ive had that before, when they knew there was an egg in there that wasn't fertile, they roll them out, even after I put them back... They might have gotten "booted"...

    Definitely a possibility, or another broody theif ;)

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