Molting or Stress? Plus, egg eating

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MandiRock, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. MandiRock

    MandiRock Out Of The Brooder

    59
    0
    39
    Aug 29, 2011
    Central Mississippi
    Oh, I have a plethora of issues today

    My Plymouth rock girls are a year old now. Over the two weeks, I've noticed a significant decrease in egg production. I just assumed that with them being a year old now that it would be molting. I was getting 4-5 a day (from 5 layers) and it went down to 1-3 every other day, pretty much overnight.

    Trouble it, I haven't noticed any actual molting. Would they stop laying before the feathers actually start to come out? The reason I ask is because our 6th girl was egg bound and she died right around the time the decrease started. She was already at the bottom of the pecking order, but I wonder if they could be stressed from losing her.

    Today I also found a soft shell egg. I've read they can come along with molting as well as stress, so I don't know what to make of it. The trouble part is that it was eaten. I've had my suspicious for the last few weeks that one of the girls was eating eggs. I thought that maybe they were broken from falling out of the next box and then the yolk was getting tangled in the pine shavings. But no, I'm pretty well convinced now that I have an egg eater on my hands.

    So what do you guys think? Sound like molting or stress? And what in the world can I do about an egg eater?
     
  2. TriangleMaster9

    TriangleMaster9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    166
    2
    83
    Jul 20, 2012
    Western Washington
    Unfortunately as far as i've heard there's nothing you can do to stop a chicken from eating eggs once they've started. Once they got the taste, there's nothing you can do. The best thing you can do is keep the rest of them from getting on that habit. I think them being stressed about losing a chicken is pretty unlikely. I had 3 chickens and 2 of them died and our one remaining was fine. Now we have four though... But anyways, I don't know alot about eggs, but you should make sure theres nothing spooking them, when they get scared, they stop laying eggs because they feel it would be unsafe for the baby.
    Good luck!
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    39,653
    1,177
    516
    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Are you seeing feathers around the coop and run? Molts can start mild, like missing tail feathers or hard molt, where you see bare patches.

    As for the soft shelled egg that got eaten - it doesn't mean you have egg eaters. They will eat a broken egg, it's happened in my flocks too. I've never had it lead to egg eating. They don't seem to connect it to normal looking eggs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  4. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    I have had hens kick an egg from the nest box while re-arranging the nest to suit them. I have had them kick the eggs from the box, literally kick them out, then settle in to lay their egg. If the eggs get broke doing this, the girls will swoop in on it like it's chicken crack. I have not had a hen peck an egg until she broke it to eat it. Soft shelled eggs get eaten pretty fast since one step, or push on them, and they break. You may have an egg eater, you may not. You may have girls laying soft eggs and those are being eaten. You may need to up your calcium, put a dish of oyster shell on the side. You may need to up your protein. You may need to put a security camera in the coop, and start recording in the morning through early afternoon, then see which hen may be your egg eater.

    Of all the chickens I have had, I have thrown cracked eggs, older eggs and duck eggs to the girls and never once have I had a chicken purposely eat eggs. If I do, then I would seriously consider culling the culprit.

    About the molting, they shouldn't be molting yet, and if they were, you'd know it big time. They should molt about 18 months. They may do a light molt, they may do a hard, but you will know it. There will seem to be a feather explosion! At which point you may want to up the protein while new feathers grow in.
     
  5. TriangleMaster9

    TriangleMaster9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    166
    2
    83
    Jul 20, 2012
    Western Washington
    You don't neccisarly have to do that, just check regularly and when an egg has been eaten check all of there faces, like around their beeck and stuff. The one with dried up egg (usualy the yolk) around their mouth it the one.
     
  6. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    There is that too. LOL! I have muff faced birds, and it is always funny to see them look like an old man who doesn't know how to clean the food out of the beard!
     
  7. TriangleMaster9

    TriangleMaster9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    166
    2
    83
    Jul 20, 2012
    Western Washington
    Haha yeah, I haven't had to worry about that yet, because none of mine are laying yet. [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by