Hen Breaks one other hen's eggs before I can gather them

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LadyKjo, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started out with two chickens, and by the grace of chicken gods (or devils), was gifted a full grown Light Brahma (hen-about 1 1/2 years old) and Jersey Giant (pullet- 7 months old). I quarantined them first (the Brahma had scaly leg mites so I treated her and the Jersey together) and then after quarantine was over (4 weeks) and they looked healthy and with no sign of mites, I introduced them to my two easter eggers. It didn't go so badly at all, and they sorted out the pecking order pretty quickly. My one Easter Egger (Bear) has always been the shy and less adventurous of my original two, and she immediately ended up on the bottom of the pecking order, which didn't surprise me as her EE sister Goldie always bossed her around, and there was very little pecking at all during this time, she just accepted her place in the order of things.

    Now, to my current problem: the Light Brahma consistently breaks the shy EE's eggs. She doesn't touch my other Easter Egger's eggs, nor does she break the Jersey Giants, but unless I am there within 5 minutes of my shy Easter Egger laying, the Light Brahma breaks her eggs. I kept thinking my one EE was deficient in calcium because I kept finding broken eggs. I realized it was the Brahma only because I noticed that although I have 2 nest boxes, the Light Brahma was pestering my shy girl for the box she was currently laying in, and immediately pecked and kicked out my EE's egg, and I was lucky enough to be checking the coop at the time so I could grab it before she did any further damage. Not sure if the Brahma is eating the eggs, as many of the broken ones I've found still have yolk/white inside, although a few didn't but they were so smashed I had no idea if it leaked out or if one of them ate it.

    She isn't doing this to any of the other girl's eggs- I have come home to find perfectly intact eggs from my other EE and the Jersey, she just does it to the one shy chicken. I have even found her sitting on the other two's eggs while laying and not a scratch on them. I have no clue how to break her from doing this. I do like the Brahma, and she does lay, albeit less than my EEs and Jersey (I get 2-3 eggs a week from the Brahma where I get at least 5 -6 eggs a week from each of the other three), and my daughter just adores her b/c of her size and hug factor. But, I'd seriously consider the stew pot if it wasn't for my daughter loving the big white fluffbutt so much.

    So, does anyone have a clue what I can do? This is what I tried so far:
    • I tried adding another nest, but the Brahma will gravitate to wherever the shy EE is and hover over her until she lays.
    • Putting golfballs in all the nests to try to confuse the Brahma (no clue if it will help, but I heard it helps deter egg eating, so maybe if she tries to break the golf balls and can't)
    • Rushing to the nest in the early a.m. in hopes to find the shy one laying and grab the egg (she tends to lay early in the a.m., so this has worked a few times, but sometimes I don't get out there in time.
    • Constantly checking to see if my EE is laying and lock out the Brahma from the coop.
    • Although I haven't done this, I am considering isolating the Brahma from the rest of the flock, or isolating the shy hen, although I would hate to do this since they all get along just fine outside of nest box and do great foraging together and such. Not sure if isolating one of them is the answer, either.

    Not sure what else I can do to break the Brahma's habit or why she would break only this one hen's eggs and not the others. I hope someone can give me some insight and/or suggestions. Sorry my post is so long, I just wanted to give little background. Thank you!
     
  2. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oi, I have no idea how to stop this sort of behaviour, but I have a fair idea of why you were gifted that Brahma! [​IMG]

    I think you've done everything I would do - swooping in to get the egg out of the nest early, and putting golf balls in the nests.

    The only other thing I have heard of - and I have not tried this myself - is hot mustard.

    I don't know if this is an acceptable practise or not, and you will have to do some research yourself to verify that it is actually SAFE to do, but I've heard that if you can get hold of one of those EE eggs before the Brahma does, and then blow out the white and yolk, and syringe in some hot mustard....well, lets just say the next time Missy Brahma cracks into an EE egg - it won't be pleasant for her!

    As I said, I've never needed to try it myself, but.....it might work.

    That's all I've got! Oh - other than rehoming her that is. The brahma, not the EE.

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Wow frustrating!
    Krista makes a good point as to why you were 'gifted' this hen (yeah, thanks a lot!).
    Might want to ask who ever gave her to you about this.


    Don't think the mustard thing works, I see it posted alot but have also read it is snake oil...chickens are not bothered by spicy/vinegary tastes.

    You might as well try isolating the brahma, separated by wire but not visually so the reintroduction is not as hard, with her own nest for a couple weeks. Not sure it will do the trick, but it's worth trying.

    Wonders, what are you feeding them?
    She may be looking for more protein, animal protein...or it could be an ingrained bad habit.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
  4. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the suggestions. The person I got her from said she was downsizing her flock. I just happened to be in the feed store buying layer feed and we struck up a friendly chicken conversation. She had a small farm and a lot of different chickens. She said she wanted to get rid of the bigger birds and stick to the medium ones. It was just one of those things- winter coming, downsizing the flock and free chickens. Of course, I'm a sucker for freebees and since I took on the responsibility, I intend to take good care of them, even if the one is a big brat chicken. She said she didn't know if the Brahma was laying because she had so many chickens she couldn't tell who was laying and who wasn't, and she seemed to not know much else about it (or just wouldn't tell me).

    As to diet, I mainly free feed a balanced layer pellet, offer oyster shell separately, and give them mealy worms as a treat once a day (I supervise the treats so they all get some without leaving the others out). Sometimes they get leftover veggies/greens and they are also allowed to free range on a little less than 1/4 acre of fenced in yard for grass, weeds and bugs (depending on the season). I did wonder if her diet wasn't balanced, and that's why I started giving the the mealy worms now that the weather has turned cold and bugs are scarce- I figured the bug protein was missing. The Brahma is a healthy eater, btw, and the first one that runs to me when I come out in the morning to refill the feeders and give out the mealies. Not sure if filling an egg with hot sauce or mustard will work- she may think it's a condiment since she is a gluttonous girl! [​IMG]

    I may consider separating her as a last resort- since it's winter I don't want her literally left in the cold alone. So far my plan of rushing into the coop when my shy one is laying seems to be working, although of tiring. She does the loudest chicken song when she lays, so it's pretty easy to figure out when it's happening. Today I even got two eggs from the EE's and I think one from the Brahma, due to my hearing the chicken song and rushing out at 5:00 a.m.

    I really appreciate the suggestions. I think I just needed to see if anyone else had any other ideas and to vent a bit with other chicken-minded people. I'm going to keep working with her, as my 11 year old loves her to death (picks her up and hugs her and everything) and if I didn't have a big dog in the house, I would consider bringing her in as a house chicken.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I wonder maybe if she needs to be wormed?
    How's her poops look?
     
  6. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I haven't seen any worms in their poops, and hers in particular is greenish/brownish with a white cap and extra-large in size as this bird is huge, I'll have to get a pic up of her sometime when I get the chance. Her poops look just like this picture from The Chicken Chick's website with the poop chart:
    [​IMG]

    I've only had birds starting this year, so I haven't even thought of worming them (I raised the two Easter Eggers from chicks I bought). I guess I should read up on that and see what is best for them. I do give them ACV (apple cider vinegar with the mother in it) in their water which I heard was good for gut health.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The worming thing i spouted off because of her enormous appetite but really don't think that would be it because she is only eating one birds eggs....which is weird.
    I wouldn't worm unless it was very apparent that was a problem....look for posts by Dawg something, he's very logical with worming meds.
     
  8. DaveOmak

    DaveOmak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you isolate the Brahma, it could change the pecking order... I jailed my roo for 3 weeks.... He became subservient to the boss hen and quit picking on the other girls... Grit, Feed and water... Sawdust, with lime and poultry dust (Permethrin) added.... egg shells (roasted) and oyster shells also for a hen... I had this in the run so he could watch the girls and they watch him... He was really humbled after the first few days.. Totally changed his behavior by week 3... Things are normal now....

    Jail.... repurposed apple bin from the suggestions of JustFowlingAround hatchery....

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
  9. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2014
    Eau Claire, Michigan
    Thanks-I'll check out some of the worming information. She's just a big bird physically and has an appetite to match. Yeah, it is weird she only goes for the one girl's eggs and leaves the others alone. It's why I posted as she doesn't bother any of the other eggs. Featherfoot (Brahma) even laid NEXT to my Goldie, who is the bold Easter Egger, and I got two eggs in the same nest in pristine condition and untouched. With only four birds I know whose egg belongs to who as each girl lays very distinctive color and shape. It's just Bear's eggs (my shy EE) she destroys, like she has a grudge or something against her, if that were possible. Oh well, I'll keep trying. I think the golf balls may be helping a bit to keep her confused (I use different colored golf balls, too). And again, I may end up separating the big girl for a while if I have to.

    Oh, I like the apple crate pen idea. Could work well for me. Thanks! Right now I use an extra large dog crate for isolation when I first got the two girls, but a little ingenuity and I think I could do something like that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

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