I got 18 eggs yesterday out of 5 birds, a personal best.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by finster, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. finster

    finster Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2015
    Waterloo, IA
    So I have 5 Buff Orpingtons, approximately 30 weeks old. We live in the middle of town and have a privacy fence up around our entire property. They have the entire run of the yard during the day minus the garden and only go into the coop at night. A couple of weeks ago I had 5 eggs in the nesting box so I knew all 5 birds were now laying. After that egg production went into a bit of a lull, only getting 1-3 a day for most days. Occasionally I'd get 4, but never got 5 again in one day. I thought I might have had a bird not laying in the nesting boxes but after several attempts ive never located any other place where they might be laying. On one occasion I found 2 eggs outside the coop on the coop floor. That could have been from the same bird on different days or from different birds, I dont know.

    My mother in law dropped by yesterday, which was my and my wifes only day off. She watched our little girls while we went out back with the boy to do some chores before winter. Pulled the tomato plants, put cages away, patio furniture away, tilled the garden, raked leaves, ect. Then I pulled out the leaf blower to clear the leaves off the patio and noticed a rather large pile of them crammed between the grill and the house in the little recess for the basement window. The grill has a bad burner in it so we havent used it all year. Fixing that is on my do-do list....Toward the bottom, I think. So we pulled the grill out and one of the birds took off running from behind the grill. After clearing the leaves I found 14 eggs. Im not sure how old they are or how long they've been back there. But she sure was not happy I removed the nest. She didnt regroup with the others after that. The rest were scratching through the freshly tilled garden while she ran circles around the house in what appeared to be an attempt at finding a new place to lay. I saw her duck into one of the nesting boxes for about 10 minutes and come back out to resume her search. I checked the box and it was empty. I let her do her own thing until after sunset. The rest of the birds filed into the coop. I found her squatting behind a stack of folding patio chairs we hadnt got put away yet. I carried her to the coop and locked her in. Later that night I went out to check the nesting boxes one more time and found another egg. I pulled 3 other eggs out earlier that day.

    So my questions are:
    What can I do to get her to start using the nesting boxes with the rest of the chickens? Like I said, I have 5 birds total, with 2 nesting boxes. Do I lock them in for a few days to pretty much force her? Is there any possibility that I have multiple birds laying in that same spot or just the one offender? After we finish cleaning up the yard there wont be too many other places she'll be able to hide them.

    And are the eggs I found safe to eat? Is there any way to test them? If its only the one bird hiding them, and there were 14 total, some could be close to 3 weeks old, correct? Ive seperated them into a seperate carton in the fridge. Im not sure how long theyve been outside. I live in Iowa, and the weather here has been moderate the last few weeks. 50-60's, sometimes 70's during the day, and 30-40's at night. We've had a few frosts in the last couple weeks.
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    I wouldn't chance eating those eggs. I know it seems like a waste, but it's better to pitch them then to eat them and end up sick.
    To get her 'trained' to lay in the nest boxes, leaving a few dummy eggs or golf balls in the boxes will help encourage her to use them. Some girls don't like to use a nest unless there are already a few eggs in there. If that doesn't work, then you will have to confine them during the early morning hours until they have all laid.
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, lock them in the coop/run for a few days.

    As for the eggs, they should be fine this time of year. I'd crack them into a separate bowl one at a time and check them out. You can do the float test on them. Put water in a glass or bowl and add an egg. A fresh egg should sink to the bottom. If it floats, it's no good.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    The weather has been cool. How do those eggs look? I'd suggest that you do the float test. But, really, all the float test will do is tell you how big the air cell is. A small air cell will cause the egg to lay flat on it's side at the bottom of the bowl. As the air cell in any egg gets larger, the round end will progressively raise up, until in an egg with a very large cell, the egg will float. So, float test will give you an indication of how fresh the egg is. Then, you can crack every egg into a bowl before using. Visual and nose inspection should tell you the rest of the story. I wouldn't hesitate to use an egg that passes inspection. But, when in doubt... if it passes visual and nose, you can give it to the dog, or back to the girls. As far as who participated in the clandestine nest: It could just be her, or most likely she has several friends in cahoots with her. Keep them confined to coop and run for up to a week, then... see how it goes.
     
  5. finster

    finster Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2015
    Waterloo, IA
    Ive heard of the float test but have never had a reason to try it. I think I read that they don't actually go bad,but the shells are semi permeable to air, and they just dry out. I don't know for sure. If nothing else, I can feed them to the garden.

    I had golf balls in the nesting boxes early on but pulled them out after my last one started laying. I can try putting them back in. If I confine them, it would have to be all day as they seem to lay at all hours of the day. My boy checks for eggs in the morning when he lets them out before school. Sometimes he finds 1, sometimes not. I usually pull the rest out after work at 4. Once in a while I'll find one at night when I lock them in the coop.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Is that hen broody? Doesn’t sound like it from your description but I’ll toss that out for consideration. If the hen is broody and you have a rooster, the eggs may be developing. You can get a shock if you open an egg.

    What causes an egg to go bad is that bacteria gets inside and starts multiplying. A hen, duck, or turkey can lay an egg a day until she has a large clutch, then incubate them for 3 to even 5 weeks with some ducks, and hatch the eggs without bacteria ever getting inside. It doesn’t matter if the egg is fertile or not, if bacteria gets inside it will go bad.

    It doesn’t matter how old the eggs are. If bacteria does not get inside they are safe to eat. They will lose moisture as they lay there so the older ones will not be exactly like a freshly laid egg. They will be easier to peel if you boil them. The whites may be a bit runnier or the yolks may break a bit easier. The air cell will be bigger.

    Before you use any egg I suggest you sniff it. If you get a whiff of rotten egg smell, carefully get rid of it without opening it. Then break the ones that seem OK in a separate bowl to check them out before you mix them with anything you don’t want to toss out.

    You can always do the float test to see which eggs are older. Fill a bowl with water and put the eggs in. The older ones may have lost enough moisture that they float. The intermediate may stand on end at the bottom of the water with the air cell at the top. The freshest ones should lay on the bottom. This doesn’t tell you which eggs are good or bad, just which are older.

    If you can I suggest locking them in the coop or coop and run to break her from the habit of going to that nest. I’ve done that a couple of times and it normally takes about a week to break her. Sometimes it’s a lot harder than other times.
     
  7. finster

    finster Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2015
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    I have no roosters, just the 5 hens. She doesn't seem like she's broody, but I can't say for certain. I've never dealt with a broody hen before. I will inspect the eggs. Anything questionable will probably go to the garden or back to the girls. And I'll talk to the boy when I get home and instruct him to keep them in the coop for now. We'll have to keep a sharper eye on the feeder if they don't range but that's better than the alternative. I don't mind a good Easter egg hunt but I prefer they be in April.
     
  8. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Good point on the rooster Ridgerunner.

    Crack them in a separate bowl, and if any look/smell funny, feed them to the dog if you have one. (or back to the chickens, cooked of course) My dog gets any questionable or the occasional egg with a bunch of poop on them. I don't normally get poopy eggs, but when you have oodles of broodies hatching babies, the nest boxes can get messy for a while.
     
  9. shodack

    shodack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think they need the golf balls left in pretty much always... After a couple months of steady laying in the nest with the dummy egg, I thought I'd remove it. The next day they all laid their eggs in a pile on the coop floor. Next day, put the dummy egg back in, they laid in the nest again... haha
     
  10. finster

    finster Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2015
    Waterloo, IA
    I was wondering that...seems about the time I pulled the golf balls out that I the egg supply started drying up. I got 4 eggs today but I never let them out of the coop either.
     

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