Help! Laying in random places and eating their eggs!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Oceanbaby, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. Oceanbaby

    Oceanbaby Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 14, 2009
    We are in the suburbs, and we have three chickens. They have been laying for about 3-4 months. One of them was laying in the nesting boxes from the beginning, and the other two were laying underneath the coop (which is part of the run). This was irritating, as we had to reach way way way under the coop with a long shovel to get the eggs out.

    But before we could solve it, we realized that one of the chickens was pecking and eating her eggs! So we blocked off the underside of the coop, and tried putting them in the coop when it looked like they were getting ready to lay. (They usually roam around our yard all day.) One of them started laying in the box (so now two were in the nesting box) but the other one was still laying elsewhere and then eating the egg.

    Today we put her in the coop, and she was sitting in the nesting box for a long time, and my husband kept checking every 20 or 30 minutes. Then at one point he goes out and she has the egg in the run, already eaten. And then he finds one of the other ones camped out behind our storage shed laying there!

    We are really getting frustrated with this. We can't keep them in the run or coop all day because it is too small, but they have to start laying in the nesting boxes. And how do we stop the egg eating!?!?!?!
  2. happi752

    happi752 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2009
    Casa Grande
    you dont have a choice. you will have to leave them cooped up in the nesting boxes each day until they get used to laying just there. once they find a spot to lay, they will continue to lay there every day. its all a matter of getting them in the habit of laying in the boxes. keep them locked up until they lay and their reward is coming out of the coop for the rest of the day. this usually only takes a few days to a week to get them to do this all the time.

    as for eating the eggs, some hens just really love the taste of egg. again, you will have to get them UN-trained to eating the egg. note the times they are laying, go sit in the coop with them until they lay, not turning your back for even a minute. take the freshly laid egg away from them immediately. do this for a week and you should have no more problem with the egg eating.
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    It is very difficult to break a consistent egg eater. More space should help, in the future.
  4. jacyjones

    jacyjones Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2008
    Aberystwyth, Wales
    An answer I heard recently for egg eating is to blow an egg and fill the shell with mustard. Put it back in the nest after removing the others that have been laid and wait for the chicken to go and eat your doctored egg!! that should put her off and apparently does work!!
  5. jafo

    jafo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2009
    I'd cull it.
  6. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    Egg eaters are baaad news..
  7. Oceanbaby

    Oceanbaby Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 14, 2009
    Quote:I guess this is what we will have to do. The coop itself is probably plenty big enough, I just feel bad leaving them in there. Should I leave all three in there and let them out one at at time as they lay, or let them in and out as a group only after they have all laid for the day?
  8. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Young pullets are prone to laying soft or no shell eggs, and may get into the habit of eating them. Here are the things I would try before you give up. Try putting egg shaped stones or golf balls in the nest box to get them in the egg mode, and they won't like pecking them! Make sure they have oyster shell available at all times, even though they are on layer food. You might want to boost their protein levels for a bit with treats such as meal worms, black oil sunflower seeds, washed cottage cheese, or small amounts of cat food. Make sure there is plenty of bedding in the nest and collect eggs often. Make sure they have some scratch and greens to keep them busy and out of trouble. I tried the mustard egg, and don't recommend it, but if you can keep them laying in the nest, and with good hard shells you can nip this in the bud.
    ETA--unless you can sit there all day, I would let them out. Bored hens are more prone to egg-eating.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  9. lilcrow

    lilcrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2009
    New Vienna, Ohio
    Quote:I had a brush with egg eating a while back and turned to BYC for help. What chookchick said about pullets laying soft or no shell eggs I found to be the case with my "egg eater." It was a case of no shell, that tempted her. She broke one after that first episode because I didn't get it collected quick enough. However, once I started following the dietary advice I received of increasing protein and oyster shell, and making sure I removed the eggs as soon as possible, I've had no further problems from her (knock on wood).
    The suggestion of culling her isn't too bad if you're not attached to her and she continues to be a problem. The reason that I say that is I heard that they can quickly teach this horrible vice to the rest of the flock, God forbid. So even though I agree that locking them up in the coop is the best way to teach them to lay where they should, if she does start laying in the coop and then eating the egg, she could teach it to your other hens.
    I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. It's no fun and after all that's why we have these beauties isn't it, to have fun.

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