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Hen eating eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by brokk, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. brokk

    brokk In the Brooder

    Nov 3, 2011
    New to chickens this year. I've got help/advice from a local who's old hat and raises various fowl.

    My chickens (16) started laying about 5 weeks ago. Various new layer issues. Shell-less eggs, hen laying from her roost, hens laying in coop rather than nest, etc. My hens up till recently have been finishing off their last bag of grower. Very thin shells. (first eggs were thick though) I started them recently on layer pellets and have oyster shells nearby that they can eat whenever they want.

    Early on I found a couple Americauna eggs with holes poked in the narrow tip of the egg. Then another type of egg had a hole poked in the side. I added two golf balls to each nest. Then an Americauna egg was eaten (this was in the same nest box as both shell-less eggs had been laid). I added black plastic coverings in front of their nest boxes to darken them and prevent curious hens from peeking in. Then another americauna egg was eaten in the same nest.

    I read about mixing pepper in with a egg and leaving it out to put them off of eating eggs. I tried this, but by putting it back in the shell (poked a hole and drew out egg, mixed, put it back in and taped it up). I put this in the troubled nest.

    I figured out which hen was the culprit. She seemed to be laying an egg, then eating whatever egg was in there (or her own if there were no other). She ate the pepper egg, so I mixed up another. Then the next time she laid, her favored nest was busy, so she used another and it already had two eggs. So she ate someone else's. So now I separate her out during the day.

    I've moved the pepper egg in with her (actually, the second one was hot sauce). She ate it. I mixed up a new one this morning with pure hot sauce and lemon juice. No egg at all. SHE ATE THE WHOLE THING. She had laid in a normal nest early in the morning, so I got her egg.

    Oddly, in the kennel, with her eating these nasty filled eggs, she is not eating normal food. I added snacks of some cooked meat (which the hens all love) and she hardly touched it. Same with an apple chunk. Yesterday she didn't eat her pellets through most of the day, but finished them before bedtime. Today she ate some, but not all.

    When I search the kennel after letting her out, there is no sign of the nasty filled eggs. Not a speck of shell or anything.

    Now I read various advice here on a couple different threads. Egg eating seems more common when they first start laying. However, hens can teach each other bad habits, so if one starts eating eggs it can spread. Twice I found "smashed" eggs from a hen who lays from her roost. However, neither of them were touched (the second was still warm, so they might not have time). Several eggs get laid in the coop, no one touches them. I'm wondering if this hen started with shell-less eggs, and learned that after laying, there is a tasty treat left behind. She's an Americauna.

    So my question is two-fold. What else can I try to break her of this bad habit? Is there a serious reason for concern with the hens being so new to laying or should I just let it be for now while I wait for the shells to thicken up?

    Lastly, should I mix oyster shell in with their feed, or just leave it as free choice like it is?

    The hens never free range because of the risk of being eaten by other animals. We even lost two of our cats late in the Summer, so the threat is real. They do have a decent sized run, which I would like to make bigger at some point, but no matter how big the run, they will clear it out of anything interesting very quickly.

    I collect the eggs about 5 times a day. Roughly every 2-3 hours (whenever I think of it). Even with that, it took me being out working on fixing the run to catch the culprit.


  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    If you are sure you just have that one hen eating the eggs, then I suggest you eat HER! She'll make a nice soup. [​IMG]
  3. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I think these things start by accident. You also had a bunch of newbies that seemed clueless as to where to lay, LOL. Then broken eggs.
    It seems like you've done everything you can. Some will never change.
    For 16 hens, I assume you have about 4 nests? If you keep her alone and put a chicken diaper on her, at least she won't be eating any eggs.
    I hope someone can come up with a solution. But I would keep her separate at this time, so she doesn't teach anyone else.
  4. The Yakima Kid

    The Yakima Kid Cirque des Poulets

    Quote:You can try making a rollout or rolldown nest so the eggs roll to where the chickens can't reach them. You may have to eat the offending hen. Hot sauce and pepper don't seem to discourage chickens; they'll even eat the hot peppers off of pepper plants. If you have a complete layer feed - check the tag attached to the bag - leave the oyster shell free choice. If you don't have a complete layer feed you will need to go out and buy some. Usually it is a good idea to switch pullets to layer feed at eighteen weeks or so - about a month before your breed of choice is likely to start laying - so they get the minerals and other nutrients they need to lay.
  5. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Songster

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    I hear that chickens can't taste hot pepper...have you tried mustard or bitter apple spray?

    She may not change now that she knows whats inside those eggs...I tried to rescue one who turned out to be an egg eater...I tried everything. She ended up going back to the shelter to be put to sleep...I couldnt risk her teaching my other hens that nasty habit.
  6. suzeqf

    suzeqf Songster

    Mar 17, 2011
    my chicks love eggs but i haven't had any that have tried to eat their eggs it's just the shells and any bad eggs i toss in their pen. i know to keep my dogs from chewing i mix up a batch of my pepper wash and that does the trick you might try that
  7. GhostRider65

    GhostRider65 Songster

    Mar 6, 2011
    NE Wisconsin
    I was just going to post a new thread for this very question, so hope I ain't stepping on the OP's toes by just adding my story here.........So Sorry if this is inappropriate.
    Well my first batch of babies, came March 25th the ladies started laying at about 20 weeks, Aug 2nd was my first egg, mean time I got a new batch of babies May 25th because my first order was so screwed up........ anyway these gals have been laying since 16 weeks, Never had an egg eaten until this last batch of pullets started laying, so I know it's 1 of my new pullets, and I think I have it narrowed down to Jasmine my first pullet in this batch to lay. I caught her today eating a freshly laid egg from Ms Prissy, who was having a conniption in the coop because her egg was getting ate.
    So I will separate her at dusk when they roost, I have 4 SS, so now I guess I will have only 3, because if I get no more eaten eggs she will be butchered with the last of the boys, who I was suppose to butcher end of Sept.
    But I'm wondering is there anyway to save her? and what in the world makes them eat the eggs in the first place?
    I thought nutritional deficiencies were usually the case? that is not so here they get the best food, scrabbled eggs, every few days, I grew them their own darn garden for god sake, they get pumpkins, squash, beets carrots, kale, tomatoes, lettuce spinach, Swiss chard, extra's from the kitchen, like noodles or peels from things, any left over meat, cheese, ect. I think they could eat, fruit, like apples, grapes, banana's, almost everyday they get at least 1 treat item, plus I mix my own feed mix, which consists of Organic corn, Meat bird feed, Boss, and complete layer. I bake the egg shells we use which is about a dozen or two every couple days, depends on how much I bake. Plus they have free choice Oyster shell, fresh water a couple times a day usually. These little buggers are by far spoiled brats............ compared to some chickens who get only feed or just corn. I'm so discussed............with this naughty hen I could cry. any help or Idea's will be taken. TY Kim

    OOOPS. forgot the 16 ladies have 9 nest boxes, when the new pullets started laying there was some caos in the hen house because the newbies would chase the older hens outa the boxes or lay in there with them, but all has worked out ok.
    I did separate Jamine tonight she was like what? why am I all alone..I feel so bad......mean mommy......... I almost cried.
    anyway will see what happens now and I'm praying she didn't teach any of my others her wicked bad habits. I did notice something strange with this hen tho. she is always last to come in at night she will mess and scratch around outside till dark, acts like she's starving all the time, when I call them for treats she is first to come running like a mad woman.....jumps up at me or whatever I'm holding dish/ bowl, plate ...
    Could it be she isn't eating the layer/ meatbird/corn, and just trying to live on corn and what ever she scratches up? 1 Pullet egg is very dark yellow center compared to the others...and I think it maybe hers.. Its a SS egg for sure, but 3 are new pullets.......so any thoughts on this?
    Can I try to fatten her up? well not exactly fatten but boost her up and reintroduce her to the group...would that work? I'm seriously fighting with myself about having to butcher a hen..............arggggggggg I'm very upset. Kim
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011

  8. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    Wow - she ate the hot sauce egg? All of it? Holy cow! That was going to be my ace in the hole if I had an egg-eater - it was the advice of a long-time chicken person that hot sauce injected in the shell was the tried and true cure for this...
    I've also heard that mustard works ... but I heard hot sauce worked better [​IMG]
  9. GhostRider65

    GhostRider65 Songster

    Mar 6, 2011
    NE Wisconsin
    BUMP hoping for some answers............
  10. DOEBOY

    DOEBOY In the Brooder

    Aug 26, 2011
    We have a hen that is in lock down as we speak. I increased the oyster shells to no avail, collected eggs asap, even put golf balls in the nest to make her give up. I was full of hope til one of my young leghorns followed the lead of the old hen and gave an egg a peck right after the old hen. Time to go to chicken jail. Three days in the slammer isolated from the rest she layed two eggs she didn't peck. One day out of the cage and she runs right back into the coop and goes to pecking at eggs like she's mad at me. Now she back on death row. I have three really old hens that were sold to us as layers (not) that produced well until I excommunicated the rooster. Now the three may give me one egg a day. I have an old angry german friend that is going to take them and do whatever. My advise to you is cut your losses and cull cull cull. I have a total of 23 hens so to get rid of 3 old hens is no big deal. Put her in a cage if you don't want to butcher her and sell or give her away. Chickens are hatching everyday tho I really enjoy my chickens I wouldn't let this get out of hand they are cheap as individuals but to start over with all new ones is expensive. Cut off the finger before you lose the arm. Good luck!

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