Egg production down... fake eggs moved?!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by JestersEye, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. JestersEye

    JestersEye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 12, 2008
    Mullica Twp., NJ
    I've been wondering for the last few weeks why we seem to be getting so few eggs from our three Blue Orpington hens. We used to get 2-3 eggs a day, but now we're lucky to find one egg from all three hens. On two occasions this week, we've gotten no eggs from the girls at all!

    Now, this could be normal if they appeared to be molting, but so far I haven't noticed any missing feathers. The "red flag" for me is that today I found that two of the fake eggs had been moved out of their nest boxes. I always keep one fake egg in each nest box, so it was really strange to find TWO eggs laying on the floor of the coop just inside the pop door. (I use "hatching turtle egg" toys, since they look and feel almost identical to the real thing.)

    FYI - The nest boxes are made from a milk crate turned on its side, with hardware cloth attached along the bottom of the open side, forming an edge to keep all the hay and eggs safely inside the nest. They are placed in the corners of the coop, directly on the floor. The floor of the coop is bare dirt covered in pine shavings. The 10' x 10' shed/coop is surrounded by chain link fencing on all sides, and "strategic areas" are reinforced with hardware cloth to prevent access by digging predators. The coop is not raised off the ground, so the chickens can just step over a small ledge to enter and exit through the pop door.

    A day or so ago, my DH and I noticed a small hole just along the inner corner of a door frame inside the run area, which gives us access to the run from the horse corral. At the time, we wondered if it could have been dug by a snake. That same day, I also found an egg lying on the ground in the run, on the side farthest from the coop. I thought it was odd that a hen would lay an egg there, but figured someone just got unusually lazy. Tonight, when I went to lock the chickens in for the night, I found them all roosting outside in the run; huddled together on top of their feed barrel instead of going into the coop.

    After seeing the fake eggs lying on the floor of the coop, so far from their nest boxes, I'm starting to wonder if the dwindling number of eggs is actually due to an egg-stealing snake. I suppose that might also make the chickens feel unsafe in their own coop. I don't know what I can do about this problem, though. My DH and I are planning to try to fill in the hole we saw, and then cover that area with hardware cloth to deter the "alleged" snake from digging back through in the same spot. (We had already tried to "plug it up" when we first found it, but it appeared open again when I looked for it tonight.) Do you think the hardware cloth will be enough to foil the snake's plans? I'd hate to have to resort to more drastic measures... but I also really want my girls' eggs to be safe! [​IMG]
     
  2. Boyd

    Boyd Recipient of The Biff Twang

    Mar 14, 2009
    MI
    Quote:snake would have eaten the fake eggs...... shoot, they eat lightbulbs and glass eggs people put out as a deterrent. For an egg stealer that doesn't take your fakes? I'm betting a possum. They are opportunistic eaters.
     
  3. JestersEye

    JestersEye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 12, 2008
    Mullica Twp., NJ
    The hole we saw was very small and completely underground, except for the opening inside the run. We didn't see any signs that anything had "dug under" the fence from the other side. I figured maybe a snake could crawl underground that far, but definately not an oppossum. They're just too darn big not to have damaged any of the fencing or cause major disruption in the enclosure. I also thought maybe a snake could have regurgitated the eggs that it didn't find tasty enough to fully swallow. If not, then I don't know how the eggs got moved out of the nest boxes. They don't even appear damaged in any way, either. If the coop and pen weren't all closed up and secure, I would have assumed that the dog had picked them up and carried them there. If it WAS some sort of critter, it would have to be something small to come up through that hole!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2009

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