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Eating Eggs, why? Confused! Need help!!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by KatieK3609, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. KatieK3609

    KatieK3609 New Egg

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    I have 5 girls about a year, I've suspected this in the past but am sure this is what's happening now because I just witnessed it and it was barbaric and disturbing!
    I know the girls are a little stir crazy and can not wait for the spring when they can free range more. They have a very spacious coop for just 5 girls. They have fresh water, delicious snacks and homemade organic food everyday. I've mixed in crushed oyster shells with their food. The recipe I used is from an experienced chicken owner so it's packed full of what they need. They get all our leftovers and delicious scraps like peeled squash, potatoes, bananas, apples, pears etc. I can't imagine they actually need the eggs is what I'm getting at, I believe it started out of boredom in the winter because they definitely do not like going in the snow. There is a flock block in there too. The comments I've read about filling plastic Easter eggs with spicy mustard didn't have good reviews, so I didn't bother to try that. There are 4 nesting boxes and I've covered the front with fabric curtains because I read somewhere that if it was dark in their boxes and they couldn't see the eggs they wouldn't eat them. I've also put golf balls in each box so they'd peck and move on. But what I witnessed today has me so upset and frustrated ... While I was in there changing the water and bringing fresh food, one of the girls was in the box and I heard pecking so I peeked in and she was pecking the walls while sitting there out of frustration because the other girls were circling around her and kept jumping up and walking in the box while she was trying to lay. I became her bodyguard and was shooing away the girls to give her some space. But as soon as the egg came out it was a free for all. They all jumped into the box in a hurry to devour the egg. I was in shock as it seemed kind of violent.
    Please help, I'm so sad and confused.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It's not entirely clear what causes the occasional transition into a flock who breaks and eats their eggs, but evidently it's a difficult habit to break. I suspect the confinement contributed, though; limited space and boredom cause several serious problems with chickens. Most people do not keep their chickens in the coop for days at a time, even in heavy snow areas. Perhaps you can find a way to shelter a small area from the snow so they can have some actual ground to be on.

    Here is a good article on some methods that may stop the behavior'

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/six-tips-on-breaking-your-egg-eater
     
  3. KatieK3609

    KatieK3609 New Egg

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    Thank you so much for replying. They do have a covered run and have access to outside everyday from morning till night, they just don't really spend any time outside in the winter. But I do open the door everyday so they at least feel free. If the habit is hard to break, do people keep their chickens? I love them but did get them hoping to enjoy their eggs [​IMG]
     
  4. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know you said they get lots of treats, but how do you feed the treats to them? Is it just offered to them in a pan or dish, or perhaps just toss it on the ground?

    If they're getting stir crazy, one thing you might consider is taking all of those goodies and making it a challenge to get to them. I mix scratch feed in the bedding when my chickens are cooped up, and when we have things like stale bread, leftovers, etc, I hide them around the coop and run, stuffing them into hollows in logs, wedging them into the fence, hanging them from the ceiling, or burying them in leaves or mulch. The added challenge of having to find the treats keeps them busy, and they don't take out their boredom on each other.

    I hope that solves the problem. Good luck!
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What kind of animal protein are providing for them?
     
  6. KatieK3609

    KatieK3609 New Egg

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    Apr 7, 2013
    I've tried hanging snacks and they didn't even touch them. When I leave treats/scraps I throw them outside to encourage more fresh air in the winter and then a snack again at night, that I leave throughout the pen. Sometimes I put it in a tall plastic container so they have to knock it around to get at the goodies.
    There food is a mixture of cornmeal, oat groats, soft wheat berries, lentils, split peas, sesame seeds, flax, sunflower seeds, salt and yeast. Plus ground oyster shells once in a while. Aside from all the scraps, additions???
     
  7. McGobs

    McGobs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm currently going through almost the exact same thing. 25 girls, and 2 boys. As soon as the sun is up, I open their door and let em out. Due to the cold and snow up here in Maine, they don't come out. I have a shovel path from the coop to the driveway. But they just don't like walking on the stuff. So they stay inside and eat everything they lay.

    3 days ago, we got a real nice day. It got up into the low 30's. HEATWAVE So I changed out their shavings. I had been doing the deep litter method, but wasn't really liking it. So far they seem to have stopped egg eating....but remember its only been a couple days. But so far so good. [​IMG]
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Do you know what the protein content is?
    It's recommended that layers need a minimum of 14-16% protein and should have oyster shell in a separate container available at all times.
    There are also needed vitamins and minerals in commercially bagged feed that you might not be meeting with your mix.

    Chickens are omnivores and I think they need animal proteins/fats regularly as well as plant protein to be at their healthiest.

    Egg eating can become/remain a behavioral problem, sometimes even with sufficient nutrition, but nutrition is the first thing to check.
     
  9. chad-o

    chad-o Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your hens have made the connection between food and the egg. Once one hen possibly by accident breaks an egg and eat it. The others see her eating they all make that same connection. I have found that this habit once started rarely can be broken. Just like dummy eggs teach them where to lay. They associate the shape of the egg with THIS MUST BE THE PLACE! The shape again says THIS IS FOOD! Short of culling the offending hen or hens I have had no luck breaking the habit. As an alternative to culling I would suggest trying a roll out nest as an alternative.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/321341757703?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649
     

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