Eggs disappearing from under broody hen

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Dora'smom, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Dora'smom

    Dora'smom Songster

    Dec 14, 2009
    My first real, dedicated broody hen is Petunia, a Cuckoo Marans. I got some mixed breed eggs for free, locally, and put four under her on the fifth of this month. We left her staying in the top of the tractor (a nest box with a lip and a specially trimmed board that we would put in front of her, to block her from sight) and just removed the board during the day. On the 15th of the month, she jumped down out of the nest box when I was in the backyard, and was sounding the egg song/alarm call. I went over to check her eggs and one of them was missing. On closer inspection, something had created a groove about 3-4 inches wide, and shallow, under the hardware cloth skirting, and for a short distance into the tractor (maybe about 10 inches or so). This was the only evidence that I had that something had happened. There was absolutely no shell or area with yolk, etc. (hurts my feelings as we candled the night before, and there were live little embryos flipping around in there!)
    We made a decision to remove Petunia and her three remaining eggs (I had been worried about breaking her broodiness) and put them in one of the nest boxes of the new coop. I told my husband that the large door over the boxes should be locked, but he said they were fine with the double carabiner setup we have. I also told him that there was an approximately 3/4 inch gap alongside one of the windows---we are still in somewhat of a construction mode---and he said it's okay, nothing is coming through there. I said, "but. . . ", but in fact we did leave it that way.
    On the 16th, another egg---the Turken egg---was missing. No evidence of anything anywhere---no shell or yolk stain, etc., and no harm to any birds, either, but only two eggs left. I raised a fuss, and my husband stuffed the crack along the window with insulation, very tightly, and padlocked the doors. Still two eggs under her today.
    What would have taken those eggs from under her without harming her, and without leaving any evidence?
    Anyone have any ideas? I have a few of my own, but nothing specific to hang them on.

  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    A snake can do this and also a rat.
  3. Debbi

    Debbi Crowing

    May 2, 2010
    Sounds like a snake to me, and yes, they can get in a 3/4" hole!!
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I agree with a snake. I had a black snake take all the eggs out from under a broody, four one visit and the last two the nest visit. It left the plastic eggs. I don't know what time of day or night the snake actually took the eggs, but I saw it in the coop in the middle of the afternoon. It was in the nest sort of loosely coiled around the broody. She was just sitting there, no sound and no movement. The snake got away, then came back later for the eggs.
  5. Dora'smom

    Dora'smom Songster

    Dec 14, 2009
    Yikes. I just don't like snakes, no matter what I do. I thought either a snake, or a rat, or a weasel. I have never seen any weasels around, but I do have a picture of my dad holding a weasel he killed not far from here, years ago. I imagine they are still part of the general eco-system. I think that a weasel probably would have injured or killed a chicken or two, though.
    Would a snake make that kind of wide, shallow groove into the tractor? I am just so creeped out by the idea that I am looking for anyone else to be guilty, I guess.

  6. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    My broody lost most of her eggs, I am pretty sure it was rats. We got a Tomcat bait station and most of the bait disappeared out of it. Only once have I lost a non-incubated egg and thought *maybe* rats, and I've never seen one dead or alive, but they ate the bait so....
  7. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    A broody will also eat her own eggs and leave no trace. How long has she been setting? Does she have access to food and water without having to leave the nest or does she leave it for short periods at a time? The fact that she jumped down from the nest and did the hen cackle may indicate she's not as "dedicated" a broody as you might think.

    The only successful broodies I've had (other than the one that hid in the barn and showed up one day with 15 chicks) are the ones I put in cages in the coop with their nest and eggs (always move them at night). That way I can put a food/water dish in the cage and she doesn't have to feel so protective of sitting on the nest that she refuses to leave for food and resorts to eating her own eggs. I've even lost a couple of broodies due to the fact that they wouldn't get off the nest and wasted away. So I started putting them in their own cage/kennel inside the coop where, once their eggs hatched, I could open the cage door and she could rejoin the flock with her babies.
  8. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    I say it's a black snake. You'll find it under something, close by. My guess is it'll be at least 4'. Now, go find it.
  9. Dora'smom

    Dora'smom Songster

    Dec 14, 2009
    Well, the two remaining eggs are still safely underneath her. Today is day15 if you do not count the day that I stuck them under her. I put them under her at about 1 or so, in the afternoon on the 5th. If you count that day, it is day 16.
    She sits on the nest except for about once daily that she jumps down, poos, eats quickly, and has a drink or two. Then she jumps back up. There are three nest boxes in the new coop (so far) and from time to time, one of the other birds jumps up and settles in with her. We haven't seen any egg-eating behavior. There was a drop in production recently, when we moved them all over to the new coop, and didn't let them outside any more, but I expected that. Production is increasing, and I think we got seven eggs out of nine birds yesterday, with the broody not laying, so that seems pretty normal, to me.
    I can't see where the insulation has been disturbed around the window, so that may be enough to keep the predator out. I hope so. Petunia was broody for about three weeks prior to our getting these eggs for her. We had several false leads on local eggs prior to finding this source. I now wish I would have taken more. I have high hopes hinging on the hatch of two eggs. They do candle appropriately, though.
    I think that if it is a black snake, it is probably hiding in the blackberry/weed patch where I have dumped grass clippings, which is a very short distance from the new coop. I've been checking out the walls, rafters, nest boxes, etc. every time I go in there, now. I'm feeling a little paranoid.

  10. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    I'd say black snake too, but do you have black snakes in Oregon?

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