Need advice about egg eater really confused as to whats going on.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Pete32, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Pete32

    Pete32 New Egg

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    Oct 23, 2012
    Duluth, MN
    Hi everyone, I'm new to raising chickens and really enjoy it. However, for about two weeks, my two red stars (25 weeks) eggs started disappearing. This may get a little confusing so please try to follow me. They started laying around 20 weeks and were laying one egg every day. Then three days would go by and nothing. Day 4 would come and there would be a egg in the nesting box. This would go on for a few days. Well, one day I found a broken shell in the coop. I started segregated the ones I knew were laying(put in large separate totes with food and water) They laid their eggs and didn't eat them, so they went back in the coop. The next day, one of the red stars laid an egg on the floor of the coop. The egg was cold when I found it and nothing touched it. The eggs started disappearing again. Two days ago, I spotted a bird with yellow on her white feathers. I put her in a tote with an egg to see if she'd eat it. She sat on the egg all day and didn't eat it. Yesterday, I went to open the coop and caught four eating an egg on the floor of the coop. I took note of the four. I then put a egg on the floor of the coop to see if they would eat it. Two of them(of the 4 that I caught eating the egg) came over and pecked it, but lost interest and walked away. The egg sat on the floor of the coop for about 4 hours with nothing eating it. Today, I went to the coop while it was still dark, and one of the red stars(also one of the bird I caught yesterday) was on the floor and there was a broken egg on the floor. I took her out of the coop as well as the egg. About 1/2 hour later I went back out to the coop and their was another broken egg on the floor and two chickens running around. The other 4 were on their perch. I went out about 30 minutes later and the one red star that was on the floor of the coop 30 minutes earlier jumped out of the nesting box and there was a very warm egg in the box.

    Sorry for the long post, but I don't know what's going on. Are the birds dropping the egg from the perch and they are breaking?

    7 chickens (2 red star, 2 black star, 2 arucanas, and 1 buff orpington). They are getting a egg mash from a local feed store. I put a feeder with oyster shells in the coop on Saturday. They are housed in a chicken tractor. The door is only closed during the night and opened in the early morning. It has 3- 12x12 nesting boxes with about 3-4 inches of pine shavings. The run is 50sq feet and the coop is 25 sq ft. I use about 2-3 inches of pine shavings for litter on the floor of the coop, but am going to put about 4-5 inches in today. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Hishigata

    Hishigata Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 7, 2012
    I had a similar problem with my first flock a few years ago. I had a young hen who, when she first started laying, would lay early in the morning while she was still on the perch. Her egg would fall onto the coop floor and sometimes break. Hens, being curious creatures, would peck the egg. If it was broken they would get some of the white/yolk which they liked. Hens love eggs, even their own. Perhaps your new layers are just laying while perching and eggs end up on the floor. I placed my hen in the nest box a few times to introduce it to her in the hopes she would start laying there. It seemed to help, she stopped laying on the perch. I would also recommend a bit of fabric over the top half of the nest boxes if you have the traditional open front boxes, hens like privacy.

    This leads to the bigger issue of hens eating eggs. Some books recommend culling all the egg eaters since it is incurable. I don't like that idea, so I investigated other options. One is a wooden egg in the nest box. If they peck it there is no reward they may stop. Wooden eggs also encourage laying in the nest box since hens like to lay where there is already an egg. I could not find wooden eggs so I tried my own method. I placed an egg on the pen floor. When the egg eater came up to peck/eat, I would give her a quickly sharp swat on the back with my index finger. Not to hurt her, just to startle her. I did this a few times and she never ate another egg again. I only had 2 girls and only 1 egg eater. I am not sure this will work with a bigger group.

    As an aside, my current flock has one hen who occasionally lays outside the box. Sometimes on the coop floor but usually under the phylodendron plant by the kitchen steps. It is possible you have a hen who prefers the ground. I would just make the nest box as clean and comfy as possible and occasionally put your hen in it/ on the step in front of it to encourage her to use it. Best of luck!
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    These things can be hard to figure out.

    About any chicken will eat an egg that is opened. That does not make them an egg-eater. To me, an egg-eater is one that opens an egg to eat it. I've had one of those and it took me a while to figure out which one was opening them. She would open one or two a day, no more, and others would help her eat it. When I removed the one that was opening them, the behaviior stopped. This does not mean you have a chicken that is opening the eggs to eat them, just that you might.

    It's possible the egg shells are thin and get broken when stepped on. The oyster shell on the side is a good idea just in case. But it is also possible just one is laying thin shelled eggs because something is wrong with her system. It's not necessarily a lack of calcium in her diet but more with how her system uses calcium. How thick are your regular egg shells? How thick are the egg shells that are broken?

    They could be dropping them from the roost too. This is pretty normal for pullets just starting to lay, but most grow out of it pretty quickly. It does not sound like this is your problem. I think that is how my egg-eater learned to open eggs though, eggs dropped from the roost and broken.

    When it is not real consistent, I suspect some animal is involved. With the evidence you describe, I think you should look hard for rats. It could be something else like a possum or skunk, but rats top my list of suspects. But I can't tell you for sure this is what is happening. As I said, these things can be hard to figure out.
     
  4. mrsc1951

    mrsc1951 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As Ridgerunner said - rats are a possibility, however you don't typically see rats during the day. Squirrels (rats with fuzzy tails) are diurnal and I have caught a squirrel inside my girls coop eating an egg. Several times I have found my little bantam's egg outside the coop and cracked when I know for a fact she has gone inside the coop to lay. My other girls are Australorps and Brahmas so lay pretty good sized eggs. I got a CO2 pellet gun and kill a couple of squirrels a day and still have tons. I've read threads on here that if you do have an egg eater to blow out an egg and fill it with mustard.
     
  5. Pete32

    Pete32 New Egg

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    Oct 23, 2012
    Duluth, MN
    Hey everyone

    Thank you for all your advice. Yesterday, I rigged some chicken wire under their roost which I then sloped and funneled into a lockable tote (hole cut in the lid). This morning I had two eggs in the lockable tote and one of my red stars was on the ground pecking at the box. Hopefully this will do the trick. Time will only tell
     
  6. Hishigata

    Hishigata Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 7, 2012
    That sounds like a good plan. I ended up with chicken wire placed under my roost to prevent chickens from walking in the droppings box. It also caught the eggs which is how I knew they were laid from the roost and not just on the ground. My hens really disliked sitting on the chicken wire. The tote is a good addition and maybe the hens will get tired of attempting to peck at eggs through the box after a while.
     

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