Possible egg eater - how to find out who??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Faydra, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. Faydra

    Faydra Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2014
    British Columbia, Canada
    Yesterday my husband was in the chicken coop and there was 6 eggs (one was on the floor). He put the floor egg back into a nesting box and left without collecting the eggs as I was on my way home from work and I always collect them on my way up to the house. When I came into the house with only five eggs he inquired after the sixth. We drove back down to the coop to find it but it had disappeared, totally and completely, within the span of about an hour!

    Is it possible we have an egg eater? If so, how do we find out which hen without quiting our fulltime jobs and staking out 24/7 in the coop (which is heated and fully enclosed at the moment as we are dealing with -25degrees outside).

    Thanks is advance!
    Faydra
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    If there was no evidence of the egg remaining chances are it's not a chook. They tend to make huge messes. They can't carry the egg away whole and dispose of it without making a mess. You will often see yolk on their faces and feathers, in the nest, all over the place.

    Possibly a rat or snake.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. Faydra

    Faydra Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2014
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    With the current temperatures I feel a snake to be highly unlikely. Also, when we built the coop we ensured there was no way any rodent pests could ever get in.

    Yesterday we blew out one of the eggs and filled it with blue food coloring. When we went to collect the eggs the colored egg was smashed and only half a shell was left so there is obviously an egg eater in the coop. We checked all the hens and not a single one of them had blue on them!!

    I'm totally confused...
     
  4. Troubadour05

    Troubadour05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Greenfield, NH
    A couple ideas for you,
    My coop was thought to be pest-proof when I got my first couple chickens. They were laying everyday and then all of a sudden, in the middle of the summer just stopped. Eventually I realized if I went out in the morning, the eggs were there, but when I went out after work (which was late in the evening, mostly after dark) there were no eggs. Out of curiosity we set up my hubby's game camera to spy on the door to the coop and the window. Sure enough we saw pictures of each hen going out, then coming in. We got a picture of me closing the door, then got a picture of a burglar skunk that had figured out how to lift the door (which I though was way to heavy for a skunk). He would slide under the door, eat the eggs, shell and all, and slide back out. Little bugger. If your door is a board on a pulley, this may be the case.

    Earlier this year I did have an egg eater, the only way I discovered the culprit was to separate 1 chicken for a day or two and see if the eggs started coming again, if they don't, try the next chicken.
     
  5. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    As Troubadour's post showed, pest proof only works against some pests...

    I've rodent and snake proofed many coops now only to find they're not pest proof against one that really wants to get in, and many people have made 'fort knox's' and similar only to have skunks, weasels, foxes, dogs, cats, snakes, you name it, all get in. Very, very hard to guarantee no matter how good you did a job of it. Cameras are awesome for this sort of issue and others. Rats can and do chew through metal, concrete, etc.

    Also, fake nest eggs... I use plaster of paris painted in acrylic, because hollow eggs made my hens think they were sitting on rotten and almost-ready-to-explode eggs, since they conduct heat the same and that's how hens naturally know whether or not an egg is viable.

    Plaster of paris conducts heat like a healthy egg so they didn't abandon those or throw them out the nest.

    I had some particularly stupid rats chew almost an inch deep into some fake eggs, but they worked for years, encouraging the hens to remain laying in the right place even when I raided every real egg from the nest, and discouraging egg eaters both feathered and otherwise. (I had a few episodic issues with egg eaters, all started with one hen that taught the others to do it, but fake eggs are very helpful in teaching them to stop.)

    Best wishes.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Yeah, in BC a snake is pretty unlikely this time of the year. But other critters are possible. Not all of them behave the way they are supposed to. That skunk eating the egg shell for example. Skunks are not supposed to do that. They are supposed to lick the shells clean and leave the shells behind. But it is on tape. Non-typical behavior can make it even harder to pick out which predator it is.

    It is pretty normal for a chicken to eat an egg that is already broken. I don’t consider that an egg eater. It’s when a chicken purposely opens an egg to eat it that you have a problem. They don’t always leave egg shell or a huge mess behind either though it is quite likely the bedding will be soggy where they ate it even if the shell is totally gone. How likely is it that an egg was accidently broken, maybe even scratched out of the nest, and they ate it?

    I’ll ask a silly question. Are you sure the egg was not just buried in the nesting material?

    Do crows or ravens have access to your coop? They will take eggs and most people don’t think of them.

    I’ve only had one hen that would open eggs to eat them. She would open a couple a day, not all of the eggs, and some of the rest of the flock would help her eat the opened eggs. Luckily the others never learned to open the eggs themselves. It was a pain to figure out which one it was. I spent a lot of time down there and caught her in the act. Some luck was involved in that. In retrospect what I should have done was isolate a hen with an egg to see if it got opened. Hopefully I’ll never have to use that plan.

    It’s possible you have an egg eater, but with just one egg known missing I would not panic yet. It’s possible some freak accident caused that egg to disappear. It’s possible some predator is getting an egg, maybe even with the chickens eating the shell to help cover up the crime.

    I’d probably mark an egg and leave it in the coop. If it disappears then you have eggs disappearing. Try to collect the other eggs as often as you can, especially on weekends when you are around. You may have a recurring problem or it may have just been a freak accident.

    Good luck with it. These things can be frustrating and difficult.
     
  7. Faydra

    Faydra Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2014
    British Columbia, Canada
    Our coop is totally sealed. It is more rodent proofed than our house. In fact, if we wanted to, we could probably rent it out to a small family - concrete floor, running water, electrical, the works! Not just a shack in the back yard.

    We believe we have at least one egg eater. Our egg count went from 7-8 eggs a day to 4-5 eggs a day almost overnight. With the remains of the blue-dyed egg shell yesterday I'm pretty positive.

    There is never any "mess" as the nesting boxes are wood chips and the floor is about 2-3 inches of straw so any leftovers are just absorbed. Unfortunately my schedule only allows me to collect eggs once a day, every evening around 6pm.

    My husband found an egg on the floor of the coop yesterday. He left it and went outside and watched thru one of the windows. He saw two hens continuously circle the egg and one gave it a definite peck, but didn't break it. The other hens seemed to keep trying to chase them off.... The two suspicious hens are EE. Has anyone had problems with them before? Out of the six EE that I got only two are laying, they seem like total duds to me....
     

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