Never a dull moment: Hens eating eggs

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SkenderLake, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. SkenderLake

    SkenderLake Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Knox County, IL
    I went out to the run to coop the hens up for the night and out of the blue, one of the hens puffed up and dropped an egg right there in the run. The others dashed over and broke it open immediately. They are all about 18 weeks old, so I thought maybe just two of the five were laying. Now I'm wondering if they aren't laying, but then eating them immediately. I haven't provided them any oyster shells, so I will do that starting tomorrow. I've been collecting one or two a day, laid in the nesting boxes.

    I am hoping I can break them of eating the eggs. Is this a lost cause?
     
  2. SkenderLake

    SkenderLake Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Knox County, IL
    Also, after cleaning up what was left of the egg laid in the run, I put them in the coop and it appeared that two more eggs were quickly laid and eaten. I don't know. I saw them going at whatever it was...I saw no shells or yolk, but definitely a thick clear substance that appeared egg-like.
     
  3. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    I've never dealt with egg eaters but in the 2nd incident, they could be laying shell less eggs. They could of been laying shell less eggs and quickly developed a taste for eggs. I would be looking at their entire diet not just adding Ca. Do you feed treats to keep them busy? Do they free range? What kind of dynamics are going on in your flock? It might self correct when they start laying normal eggs. You can also set them up with mustard or some other nasty filling. Poke a whole in an egg. Blow the egg out and then fill it with something they won't like. Bait them with it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
  4. SkenderLake

    SkenderLake Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Knox County, IL
    Thanks for responding. It almost did seem like they were shell-less eggs. I am collecting eggs from two of them that seem to be nice solid shells. I just assumed the others weren't laying yet.

    I do give them some treats (bread, mulberries, etc) a couple of times throughout the day. They did have about 8 hours of free-range time until one of them got nabbed by a predator in the cornfield next to us. So for the last few days, I've left them in the coop/run.
     
  5. SkenderLake

    SkenderLake Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Knox County, IL
    I was thinking about the idea of shell-less eggs and the first egg that I saw them pounce on in the run...the shell was EXTREMELY thin. I'm so much of a chicken newbie, I thought maybe they are all like that at first and then harden when the air hits them. [​IMG]
     
  6. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Can you identify who the 2 who laid the eggs inside the coop? There would of been shells in the carnage so if you didn't see any, there probably wasn't any. Shell less eggs are not uncommon in new layers. Chickens live to peck at things so the egg was new and interesting so curiosity got to them and now the cat is out of the bag. They know where the good stuff comes from. Bored chickens find trouble. Treats thoughout the day will help but too many will bring down the protein and Ca level of the layer feed to the point where you really need to add some back. I feed back egg shells for Ca but because they are eating eggs, I wouldn't do it unless you crush them or hide them in another treat. That's where oyster shells or limestone comes in to play. You can sprinkle out feed and oystershells as a scratch so they have to work harder and longer to get their food (what else do they have to do?) If it's hot, freeze them some ice blocks with treats inside (vegetables, stale bread, cereal, pasta, cheese...)

    Eggs need to come out rock hard. If they're too soft, they will crack just in the laying process. Also make sure your nesting boxes are in the quiet and dark area of your coop. If the problem persists, there are nesting boxes that are built at a slant and the egg rolls away and get trapped out of the hens reach. You can probably find plans for them in the coop section.
     
  7. SkenderLake

    SkenderLake Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Knox County, IL
    I believe it was the two Black Australorps that layed in the coop. I'm not sure. But, I have yet to collect any eggs from them. Is it odd that three would have layed in the matter of 5 minutes?

    It appears that they leave the eggs alone if they are in the nesting boxes. At least, so far.

    Thanks for your advice. I will get some scratch and oyster shells and introduce those. I also hope to start giving them free-range time. I had to do away with that about 5 days ago when one got nabbed by a predator in the cornfield. They loved going in there and I think it'll be restricted to times when I can supervise and control where they go. I think that might help do away with some boredom. They went from LOTS of ranging time to none and stuck in their coop/run. I can see that being trouble.

    Unfortunately, I'll be adding three hens to flock tonight. It's probably not the best time to be doing that with this little issue.
     
  8. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Again not uncommon for a pullet to lay an egg while not setting on the nest. Some new layers will sit for hours waiting for the big event and some are clueless to what's going on. That's good that they don't bother the eggs in the nest. Now you've got to train them to lay in the boxes. Use golf balls or fake Easter eggs as bait. If there is an "egg" in the nest, it must be a safe place which can be very important for some hens.

    Don't go out and buy scratch use what you've got. Layer pellets, oyster shells, berries, peas, cracker crumbs.... anything that they have to scratch and peck to find and eat. Keep their little brains busy.

    they make an electrified mesh fence that might be just what you need to keep them semi confined but still have out time. Corn fields are prime for grasshoppers, mice, corn (they love fresh corn on the cob. Toss them one in the run) and fox, coyotes, hawks... A dozen step in posts with the mesh and you'll have a secure 1/4 acre free range area.
     
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