Egg-eating cannibal chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chemguy, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good Morning! I'm writing on behalf of good friends who have kept dual purpose chickens for several years as a source of eggs and meat.

    My friends have recently had a major problem with egg eating. As soon as an egg is laid, it is broken open and consumed. Mostly it is the yolk that is consumed, and the whites and shells are left strewn about. Recently (this Fall), the flock has taken to pecking, killing and eating themselves. I suspect that this is a combination of diet (low protein) as well as unintended neglect (recent chronic medical problems make it difficult for them to tend to their flock like they used to). They've asked me what there is to be done, and I've supplied them with the usual list (increase protein, feed regularly, put golf balls in the nest) in addition to recommending cull, cull, cull. They are reluctant on this last, but I think that the added work needed to cull is something that they simply can't undertake right now, not because they are opposed but because of their situation. Basically, they would first like to see if it is possible to address the problem without culling.


    So, there's the scenario. Now, the question, and it's a multipart question: Have you dealt with these issues, if so what did you do and, are there suggestions beyond those I've made which might be of help? Thanks for any and all insight.

    P.S. I've also recommended a game cam to help determine if a predator is somehow involved.
     
  2. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    cull doesn't mean tht they have to do the work. Just put the birds on craigs list or similar and let someone have it for food.
     
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I think the game cam is a great idea. I thought I was having an egg eating problem this past spring, and it turned out I had a really bad mouse problem. Another idea, how many birds do they have exactly? And is their coop big enough for all of them? These problems usually pop up if the chickens don't have adequate space. Another though, perhaps they are simply bored. Especially if they used to free range. Maybe your friends could hang some cabbages in the coop or run to keep them occupied (or perhaps you could help if its something they can't physically do). String up a couple of cabbages just high enough that the chickens have to jump to peck at them. My birds think this is the greatest game ever. I'm going to assume their protein intake isn't the issue, since you've already brought that up, but maybe a round of high protein gamebird feed wouldn't hurt just in case. Another option to save the eggs, would be to either build or purchase some roll away nestboxes. The chickens will never have another opportunity to eat the eggs if they roll away as soon as they are laid. Though if there is a rodent problem they could still have access to them. As for them pecking each other, its usually just one or two naughty birds doing the deed. Something as simple as a change in the pecking order can cause that to happen. If a particularly aggressive bird earns a top spot, they like to show everyone why they got there and that they intend to stay. They usually pick on the lowest birds in the pecking order (sometimes to the point of drawing blood, and once that happens everyone else goes into a frenzy). My solution to that problem would be to rid myself of the trouble makers. Whether it be to process them or sell them on craigslist (obviously if you sell them, you'd want to make their new owners aware of the problems they were causing). That's really all I can think of, but I hope it helps. Good luck to you and your friends!
     
  4. I too think the game cam is a good idea (or a wireless net cam). AS stated above also.......
    Are they financially able to keep them fed well? Are there too many chickens for the space? I think I would go with Purina flock raiser or blue seal breeder pellets and just offer oyster shell free choice. Get them down to 1 bird for every 5 sq./ft. or better, make sure there is not more than one rooster for every 8 hens, and get rid of trouble makers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
  5. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks! Space isn't an issue, as they have 10 hens in a 100'x50' run. Money isn't a major issue, it's time in-between medical treatments and dealing with everything that comes along with it. I hadn't thought about mice, and I'll pass that along to them...that is an excellent idea. I do know that they've always had mice about, and it could be that this is a big year for mice after the wet spring we had.
     
  6. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies, here is an update: The chickens have gone to the big stew pot in the sky. With everything going on, and with others in need, my friends decided to give their small flock to someone who neeeded a hand up and knows how to dress chickens.
     

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