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egg cracker, broken eggs, just total nesting box problems

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by deerchooper, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. deerchooper

    deerchooper Out Of The Brooder

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    one of my birds is pecking at eggs. sometimes it just strikes it once and puts a dent in it, broken shell. the other morning I found a shell that was 2/3rds missing, yoke and white gone.

    I have a light in the coop, comes on at 2am. I check the box before work at 4:30 am. that is when I find a broken shell. that time in the morning normally a rir or 2 or rir and bo has laid a egg. I think I have to add a video camera to find out who it is.

    2. I keep adding straw to the boxes, they drag it out and start to build under the nesting box board and I have been finding eggs on the floor and run from some of the bantams. I don't know whats going on lately but they are going nuts on me.

    what to do what to do?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    When I got some egg eaters, I found they train the other hens to do the same. It's not a problem to let slide. Some reckon to use mustard but my hens love hot foods, cayenne included, so that won't work with all hens. If they're getting the correct diet yet they're still doing this, time for another approach. Are they seeking the shells or the internals of the egg, specifically?

    I used nail clippers, the sort for humans, and trimmed the see-through edge off their upper beak. It won't hurt them because you're not cutting into the clouded/opaque part where the nerves are, you're just taking off the sharp edge. When next they try to smash an egg open, that edge isn't there to do the work for them, and their beak is more sensitive (just like an over-trimmed human fingernail) so they're not as keen to keep applying so much force. It goes to show how sensitive their beaks are if taking off the nerve-less edge has such an effect. I really don't believe in debeaking personally but trimming the very tips of beaks and spurs is sometimes helpful. If you cut into anything that's not translucent, you're cutting into flesh. It's easy enough to avoid.

    About them nesting on the floor, if there's a specific reason you want them to not do that, then it's worth correcting, but I always had a whole panel of nests on one wall of the roosting cages and the lowest ones were on the ground, with the highest ones several "stories" of nests above. I found in general the more dominant hens want to nest as high as possible with the hierarchy nesting according to rank below them.

    If they're emptying out the nests, it can be because they've found insects are getting about in them, or because they smell mold in the hay or materials used. The hens with the most instinct can be very fussy about nesting materials even when not broody.

    Doubtless some others will also offer you some suggestions on things to try. Best wishes.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Build a lip on the front of the nests, so it's harder for them to drag out the bedding.
    Would be good to check first if there an insect problem in the nests.


    How big is your coop?
    How many chooks?
    How many nests?
    How old are birds?
    How long has this been going on?
     
  4. deerchooper

    deerchooper Out Of The Brooder

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    c4l, thank you. I will see what I can figure out

    aart, I do have a 2" lip on the front

    4x8
    4 banties 2 buff and 2 rir w/1 roo
    3
    7 &8 months
    1.5-2 wks
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Looks like enough room and nests...maybe add 2" more lip to front of nest.

    Might be new layers craziness, might be a tad too much 'daylight'....14 hours is plenty.

    Maybe add some fake eggs of golf balls to each nest.

    Last resort for egg eaters can be roll away nests, especially if you're not around to gather eggs frequently.

    Good Luck.
     
  6. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Breaking the routine sometimes can break them before a habit forms, i.e. gathering multiple times a day even if recruiting a neighbor. Have your auto light pop on closer to you leaving for work if at all. Give them more stimulus to avoid boredom, melons/squash are great for starts. Or, watch for the guilty and then prep some dumplings. [​IMG]
     
  7. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    aart's got some good suggestions there too, I forgot to mention, I also built a lip on the edge and made plaster of paris fake eggs that I painted in Acrylic which have still been going strong years after I made them. Rats chewed into them thinking they were getting eggs, it's amazing how deep they chewed before they realized there was no yolk forthcoming. [​IMG]

    I used plaster of paris because when I used golfballs, even my dumbest never-broody hens were not fooled. The others kept casting them out of the nest or simply moving to nest elsewhere. I believe it has something to do with the heat conduction of the fake egg. Hollow eggs didn't work either. An egg that doesn't heat up at the right speed, or cool down at the right speed, is read by an instinctive hen to be a dead egg. I can also tell after some years of experience whether or not an egg is dead, just by holding it. Dead eggs, no matter the stage of development, resist taking heating and once the heat source is removed they cool down very quickly. Live eggs take on the heating so enthusiastically you'd swear they've got their own internal heater, and they stay warm for much longer once the heat source is removed.

    If they never free range, boredom can be an issue. Roll away nests are also a good idea if everything else fails... And I must agree with ChickenCurt, too, a persistent culprit in my flock would soon be on the menu. But a roll away nest should do it too, if you're not the culling sort; rehoming is another way to "cull" if you can't fix it otherwise.

    Best wishes.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Chooks, Excellent response. I love gleaning from other's posts. Good info. I'm wondering if your observation about egg temp would be good to add to a candling program for those hard to read eggs. Turn the bator off for about 10 minutes, then use a contact thermometer to test egg temp... or simply a well tuned hand!

    Deerchooper: Perhaps the other girls are nesting on the floor b/c of the egg eater. They know their egg is not safe in the nest. Perhaps increase their calcium. Free choice oyster shell, and VERY finely crushed egg shell. Also more protein in the way of MEAT.
     
  9. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Right there with the roll away nests I recently read where one backyard farmer made doors on the nesting boxes to stop the broody hens, perhaps this variation helps.
     
  10. deerchooper

    deerchooper Out Of The Brooder

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    thanks for the help and suggestions.

    I really need to find which one is doing this, 2 eggs so far has been completely eaten. all 8 of my hens have slowed way down in egg production as well.

    I do give oyster shells in the coop, out of a little container.

    once I do find whomever is doing this, they will be dealt with, I did name them spices or condiments.
     

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