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how to tell egg eating vs just not laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by rcstanley, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. rcstanley

    rcstanley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 2, 2013
    Utah County, Utah
    How do I tell the difference between a hen that is laying and eating the eggs vs a hen that is just not laying? Would a hen eat just her own eggs and not anyone elses?

    The whole story:
    I have five hens. All were laying until about three weeks ago. My best layer, a 2 year old sex link started laying soft shell eggs (becoming egg bound which I treated), then a few thin shelled eggs, then I stopped getting eggs from her at all. She layed a soft shelled egg in the run and the others ate it. I also stopped getting eggs from my two bantam pullets that had just started laying. I still get eggs from an easter egger and a bantam cochin. My husband caught the easter egger pecking at an egg in the egg box, but we don't know if she was trying to eat it, or if she was moving it because she likes to sit on eggs. I have not found broken egg shells in the nesting box or anything.

    What I've tried:
    • putting out fake eggs and soap eggs. No one seems to mess with those. The soap eggs, the first one was smashed, but it's possible a chicken just stepped on it. But no one has messed with the others I've tried.
    • removing the bedding from the nesting box and a waiting a day or two to see if there was egg residue on the wood. Nope.
    • removing the easter egger for a day. The two banties went into the nesting box for a while then came out. No egg, so if somebody is eating eggs it isn't (just) the easter egger.
    • I haven't seen the sex link in the nesting box at all unless she's in there before I let them out in the morning.
    • I checked their vents to see if they are still laying and honestly, chicken butts look like chicken butts. The non laying chickens still squat for me. I'm also not sure how long it takes for a vent of a formerly laying chicken to stop looking like its laying.

    Any other ideas I can try? I'd just wait it out except I want to integrate some new chicks in a week or two and if somebody's eating eggs, I don't want them learning bad habits.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2016
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    Many sex links hens are done by age two, my guess is yours is probably getting there or already there. My sex links laid like crazy for about 18 months then just stopped, never laid again. Most times when there's egg eating there's tell tale signs, shell pieces and dried yolk in the boxes or on the floor in front of them.

    Many bantam tend to lay in clutches, taking breaks between them, and usually going broody. So it might be time to find a few more egg layers if you want more eggs. My EE never laid a lot either, but others say theirs do.
     
  3. rcstanley

    rcstanley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 2, 2013
    Utah County, Utah
    Thanks. I've heard that about sex links too. I'm glad to know there are signs of egg eating. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

    Happily my ee and Cochin are laying almost every day right now, so I'm doing ok until one goes broody:) I've got some seven week old chicks to help out in the egg laying department come July or so.

    If the sexlink really is done laying I'll have to decide what to do. She's from my first batch of chicks and grandfathered in under a pet clause:). She's also an awesome head hen, keeps things in order but isn't rough or mean, but no eggs is no eggs.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    central Wisconsin
    I keep my old hens around, they add stability to a flock. My girls get to retire.[​IMG]
     

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