Flock integration and egg-eating in a two-story coop?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by stephen99, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. stephen99

    stephen99 New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2010
    We’ve recently added 4 new pullets to our flock for a total of 7. All 7 are laying now. They’ve established their pecking order now, and the older birds have stopped abusing the pullets.

    The problem we’re having now is that we’ve had a couple of egg-eating incidents. I’m anxious to nip this problem in the bud.

    We have a two-story coop. The upstairs is an enclosed coop area (4'x6'). The downstairs is an open air run that is twice that size (8'x6'). All the birds roost upstairs at night. The older birds come downstairs in the morning, but the pullets tend to hang out upstairs during the day.

    Food and water are both freely available, but both are downstairs in the open-air dirt-floor portion of the coop (it seems like putting water upstairs with the plywood floor is just asking for mold and rot problems).

    I’ve considered removing the nesting box from upstairs, and building a new one below in the run area. But I’m wondering if pullets would still stay upstairs and just lay their eggs on the floor . . . and then eat them.

    By late afternoon, all the birds make it downstairs. But the pullets spend most of the day peeking down into the run, looking like they desperately want to come downstairs. But they’re just big fat chickens (couldn’t resist the pun) and are afraid to come down. When they eventually do come downstairs, everything is fine. The older birds don’t abuse them. But if they keep eating eggs, none of that will matter.

    Any suggestions on how to help the pullets integrate into the flock, and stop the egg-eating?
     
  2. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2009
    Leicester, NC
    Ekkk, egg eating is definitely something you want to stop and quick!

    I would try upping their protein and in conjunction with that I would...

    1. Put curtains on the nesting box, with only a little slit in the middle for them to come in and out. Less likely others will know she has laid an egg.
    2. Collect eggs as often as possible!
    3. Take a couple eggs, blow out the contents and refill with a mixture of strong mustard and dawn dish detergent, seal and put in nests. The idea is that the egg eating chicken will peck at eggs and be disgusted by the contents.
    4. Put a couple egg shaped stones in the nest, chickens peck at them and don't like the way it feels.
    5. Last ditch effort, build a rollaway nest.

    Its rather strange that the pullets don't come down into the run. How steep is your ramp?
     
  3. stephen99

    stephen99 New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2010
    We've had golf balls in the nesting box. But one of the Australorps keeps kicking them out of the box and pecking hard on them, even though she gets nothing out of them.

    We've been collecting as quickly as we can, but unfortunately when I go to work (still haven't figured out how to make a living just on an urban backyard flock) they are left on their own for a good part of the day.

    We removed the ramp a year ago because one of the birds had trouble using it (seriously) and we discovered that it seemed easier for them (or at least the one bird) to just hop up into the hole. They get up and down without a problem, except for the fact that they are afraid of the older birds. If we let the older birds out in the yard, the pullets come down right away.

    Thanks for the suggestions on the mustard and rollaway nest. We'll give that a try.

    Has anyone else had experience with birds hiding upstairs in a two-story coop?
     

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