Egg eating problem and new chicks on the way - help!

dogsunderfoot

Hatching
11 Years
Jan 23, 2009
5
0
7
Hi all - I am at my wits' end. I have a flock of 14 one to two year old layers (plus one old hen) that have been doing pretty well - until recently. About 3-4 months ago, I started finding an occasional broken/eaten egg. I tried the usual stuff: made sure they had plenty of oyster shell available, gave them some supplemental veggie treats (but not too many so they were still getting a balanced diet), put golf balls in the nest boxes, etc. I couldn't figure out which hen was responsible, but figured I could fix it...so I ordered 10 more chicks to replace the older layers in my little flock.

Meanwhile, the egg-eating problem got worse. Both my husband and I work all day, so a neighbor came over a couple times a day for 2-3 weeks (and bless good neighbors everywhere!) to see if more frequent egg collection would help, but they still got a few eggs before she did. We finally installed roll-out nest boxes, which has helped some, but the darn birds will still sometimes get a good peck or two in before the eggs roll away, and the eggs end up broken, if not eaten. As far as I can tell, it's more than one chicken eating eggs; I've seen a couple different ones peck eggs, most of them dive for broken eggs as I clean them up, and a few sometimes sport yellow beaks. I am ready to cull the whole flock and start over.

Here's my dilemma: I have 10 new chicks arriving this week! I can keep them separated for a while, but not forever. If I integrate the new chickens with the existing flock, will they learn to eat eggs too, even before they start laying? As far as I can think, I have 3 options:

1) Put up with the egg eating from the old hens, mix the new chicks in once they're old enough, and hope they don't pick up any bad habits; then, cull the old hens when the new pullets start laying. I would still get eggs this way, even if some of them are eaten and I am slowly driven to the point of madness dealing with the problem and mess, plus I'm afraid I'd end up with ten new egg eating monsters. I don't see this working well...

2) Get a few started pullets as soon as I possibly can, and keep the new chicks separate until I get the started pullets. Cull all the old hens once the new pullets are in place. With this option, I keep my flow of eggs going (if at a reduced rate) and don't train bad habits in the new birds, BUT have to find a way to house two flocks for a while, plus the folks who get eggs from me now would have to find a new source for a while.


3) Cull all the old hens now, and buy eggs from the store for a few months until the new chicks start to lay. Again, no bad habits developing, but also no eggs, even for me, though only having one group of chickens to house and care for would be easier.

Any thoughts or advice? I normally enjoy my gals a lot, and find raising and caring for them very rewarding, but this problem has me ready to give up on chickens. :( Your suggestions would be appreciated!
 

randerson846

Songster
6 Years
Apr 14, 2013
1,587
32
156
I would go with number two it seems like the best option that way you still get eggs and your new chicks wont develop any bad habits :)
 

dogsunderfoot

Hatching
11 Years
Jan 23, 2009
5
0
7
Yeah, that's what I was afraid we would have to do. I wish I'd been able to prevent or stop the egg eating, but it seems like the chickens like eggs as much as we do.
Thanks for the advice.
 

dogsunderfoot

Hatching
11 Years
Jan 23, 2009
5
0
7
I tried a commercial insert, but they could easily reach the eggs in the fairly shallow collection area, plus it had to fit an existing space. We retrofitted the nest boxes with something more like this: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...design-picture-heavy-edited-1-21#post_3499006 (Opa's design). It works fairly well, but they still reach the occasional egg, or just peck them before they roll away. It's amazing how far determined chickens can stretch their necks to reach eggs.
 
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