Need guidelines with egg eaters

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mysterybirds, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. Mysterybirds

    Mysterybirds In the Brooder

    May 6, 2007
    I'm in some kind of chicken disaster right now and I am wondering what the best path to take is. I've got 10 pullets, at least some of whom are laying now (a mixed bag of birds courtesy of MM brown egg layer assortment). One rooster who is older and mostly wanders about and snuggles with the gals at night. When we first started getting eggs we found the roo and a RIR eating a frozen egg once. It was very frozen and looked like it had burst when expanding. I wasn't worried and figured they ate it because it was open.

    In the last two days I have had three eggs eaten. The culprits seem obvious because the yellow really sticks out on their white feathers. They seem to be very aggressively eating eggs, sitting by the next boxes, following others in. Today I was going out every 30-45 minutes and they managed to get in and eat the one egg of the day during one of those intervals. I can't be certain no one else is eating them but they are the only obvious ones. The roo has no yolk on him at all, so he doesn't seem to be a problem.

    My question is whether I should try all of the tricks in the various posts on egg eating or whether keeping them with the others and trying to change things is just going to allow them to teach everyone to eat eggs. I am very worried about ending up with a whole flock that eats up everything. My son loves these two hens and has been in tears all morning. If I thought that it would be some work but I had a good chance of succeeding then I would try it all. If I am likely to end up with 10 hens eating each others eggs then I can't keep them.

    They are all healthy, definitely not overcrowded, eat layer mash and some scratch here and there and regular goodies. They had been on layer pellets but they were very unenthusiastic about the form so I just switched to the mash.

    Give me the good, bad or ugly. I just need to know what direction to go. And if anyone wants to tell me that this isn't because I am a terrible chicken keeper I would be willing to hear that as well (let's just say my son isn't the only teary one).

  2. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    You are not a terrible chicken mama. [​IMG] These things happen and when they happen it's just something you try to get past. [​IMG]

    You do need to separate them, as much as a pain it may be because they will end up teaching your other hens and possibly the roo to eat the eggs. Others on here have filled a blown egg with cayann pepper, mustard, etc... just anything to make it nasty tasting to deter the birds from doing it any more.

    Edited to say that you may also try to increase their protien intake. Black oil sunflower seeds are good for this, others have used catfood. I know it helps with feather picking/eating, maybe it will help with the egg eating.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2007
  3. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

    Nov 16, 2007
    San Antonio TX
    Firstly, let me say, you are NOT a bad chicken momma (or daddy)! There are several posts dedicated to this topic, so you are not alone. Here are some suggestions:

    Keep the nest area as dark as possible-this is a very good PREVENTATIVE measure, not sure how it ranks as a cure

    Golf balls placed in the nest will provide something hard that the birds can't peck through

    Feeding extra protein-we use cat food usually-can help if the birds are just looking for extra protein

    Eggs refilled with chili powder, there are several theories on this, mostly the deterrent is once the break the eggs, chili powder *may* get into their eyes/nostrils and burn, causing a negative association with egg breaking
  4. pattycake

    pattycake Songster

    May 7, 2007
    fingerlakes, ny
    I can tell you my experience. Just a week or two ago I had a chicken who was eating eggs, and I was scared the situation was going to get out of hand -- that she would eat all of them. Or else I'd have to build some nest boxes on a slant, so the eggs would roll away to a place she couldn't reach.

    I decided maybe they needed the protein or just the extra food, since I give them an organic layer feed they're not crazy about.

    So I started feeding the chickens more treats and giving them their own egg shells back to them (baked to sterilize them and broken up fine). And already the situation seems to be getting better -- the egg shells are stronger so they don't break and tempt the egg eater. I had one half eaten one this morning, but that was the first one in at least a week, and I had let the feeder go empty....

    Good luck! I've also read that darkening the nest boxes with a curtain helps, as does putting decoy eggs in. Also, the roll-away nest box is work-intensive but a good idea.
  5. NS2A

    NS2A Songster

    Jun 11, 2007
    Do they eat the shells? If so, add oyster shells to their feed.
  6. Mysterybirds

    Mysterybirds In the Brooder

    May 6, 2007
    Have I ever said that I think this is the best place ever? One of the few places I have found where everyone seems to just be supportive and caring around chicken life.

    I was coming back to say that I had had them in a carrier together because I had run out of ideas earlier and went out to find an egg in there with the two of them. So maybe not quite as egg crazy as I thought they were.

    I think that I will try some changes, and most likely the nasty egg surprise and see how things go. I have had some nesting woes, mostly with gals wanting to lay their eggs in funny places that have led to hard to find and sometimes broken eggs. I read somewhere (here?) about using rubbermaid containers with chicken size holes in the sides for boxes and I think I may try that and see if I can get them consistently using more than one box and only boxes.

    Is there some variation with feed? I have been using organic and they just don't act very happy to see it. I switched from pellets because I felt like I had made a mistake with offering scratch at all as their interest in the pellets decreased. I thought that mash might be more palatable. I will try to give them more protein and calcium options and see if that helps. The two causing trouble are among my three biggest birds. I wonder if they just are needing much more than what they have been getting.

    And in the meantime I think I may just send them out during the morning hours. The problem is that I have only one fenced area and 20" of snow on the ground. I have the little chick run but it wouldn't give them a place to keep their feet warm during the day.

    Thank you all so much. And yes, I'm a chicken mama.
  7. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Oh Mysterybirds, I'm so sad for you right now. But it will be solved soon, don't worry. (I'm VERY relieved it wasn't the roo eating the eggs!!!) And you're not a bad chicken momma! How can any of us possibly control what goes on in their little tiny brains!

    I was afraid my girls were going to develop that habit because whenever I'd show them an egg to tell them how extremely clever they are for laying it, they jump right over and peck it hard. I stopped doing THAT in a hurry.

    A simple solution is what the other posters have already written. I'd separate them into their own section and give them lots of golf balls or wooden balls to bust their beaks on.

    The roll-away nestbox solution is excellent, but requires some engineering/building...

    Above all, don't be sad. If no easy solution works, those yolk-eating individuals could always be rehomed to someone that isn't too concerned about egg production, and maybe just likes to have a large flock around.

    Best of luck, and keep us "posted" (ha, ha).
    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!
  8. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

    Nov 16, 2007
    San Antonio TX
    Quote:There is variation with feed, even within a brand and a type, due to different batches of grain and whatnot. I don't feed organic myself, but I have heard reports of it not being as palatable (tasty) to the birds because they aren't allowed to add some of the flavorings and bindings that regular commercial mills can.
  9. Mysterybirds

    Mysterybirds In the Brooder

    May 6, 2007
    Hi BH! I was worried about posting because I knew you would worry it was Mr Chicken. I'll admit to giving him a thorough once-over but he has a spotless head and neck. He is just really mad at me sending him out in the cold to keep an eye on the others today.

    So, do they normally eat the whole shell, as in every last speck? I've only known what they were up to because of the big wet spots in the nest box and the yolk on their heads. I'm wondering now whether a) they have really needed the calcium (as halvey suggested) and b) whether maybe the shells are weak and are breaking and then getting eaten. One egg I just found smears of yolk all over the shavings bag that they keep trying to nest on, with accompanying eggs rolloing off. Two were in a next box that my rather insane RIR likes to completely empty of shavings before laying her egg. If only I had a little camera to keep track of what goes on in there...
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    the ones that don't get eaten, what are their shells like? If they are sometimes a little flimsy (even just like store-bought eggs would probably count as somewhat flimsy) they may just be eating what's already broken. I had that occasionally for a while but making sure the oystershell feeder never 'went dry' cured it right up.

    Good luck,


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