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Something's afoot in my coop!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Xtina, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Let me start at what I think might be the beginning. As soon as I put a heat lamp on my hens this winter, I started having a problem with eggs being eaten. It is one hen doing it, I can tell, because it's always in the same corner of the same box. I would get two good eggs, and one shell broken in half, with most of the inside in the hay underneath it.

    I removed the light and the eggs stopped being eaten (except for tonight, but I'll get to that). However, the eggs weren't intact. There would always be a hole, or a crack, with none of the inside having been eaten. Some days the egg would be falling out, other days there would just be a small hole and the inner membrane would be fine. I work all day, so I can't do any spying to see who is laying in that box, or figure out what might be happening. I plan on doing some sleuthing this weekend though.

    The last three days, there was no egg from one of the chickens, and no evidence of there having been an egg laid. The same chicken who has been cracking eggs was still up to her deeds, so I know it is another hen who is not laying. But this morning when I let the ladies out, I saw three perfect eggs lying far from the boxes, underneath their perch! I gathered them up and took them inside. Tonight, I went out to collect my eggs, and found one intact egg, one mostly eaten egg, and no third egg. I used the flashlight to check around the coop and then the yard for a hidden egg, but didn't find anything.

    So, what is going on? I obviously have an egg eater who will most likely have to be eaten if all the good suggestions I found on this forum don't work. But why is hen #2 laying outside the boxes? She's been laying inside them since they started a few months ago. Is she hiding her eggs from the culprit? Is she going broody? Is she just unhappy with her boxes? Thanks in advance for reading four paragraphs (if you did!) and for any answers you can give me.
  2. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    In our coop, we have 6 boxes, and they all use one. If someone is in that box they will lay right outside of it giving the hen inside a hard time all the while. That is how WE get eggs on the floor.
  3. Eastins Eggs

    Eastins Eggs Songster

    Jan 11, 2009
    Ceresco Nebraska
    You may have a predator problem, possible a rat. It sounds like something is scaring your hens off their nests.
  4. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Wow, both of those are possibilities. I noticed that my two hens that don't eat eggs tend to prefer the same box. Even though I have four boxes and three hens, only two boxes ever get used for laying. Maybe the two layers are just conflicting with each other?

    And a rat could be a problem, but my coop looks pretty vermin-proof. I know they're sneaky little buggers, so this weekend I'll do some investigating for evidence that something is sneaking in. Aren't rats nocturnal though? Or do they come around during the day too?
  5. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    I'm no expert, but I think a rat that feels safe will come out anytime it smells food.
  6. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Ok, so you know how I said my coop is vermin-proof? Well, I'm an idiot. Guess what I do during the day? That's right, I leave the coop open so the ladies can free-range and come in to lay whenever they feel like it. So yeah, if a rat wants to come in, there's no problem as long as they don't mind walking around in the daylight.

    That said, a big part of me thinks it's a chicken doing it. And I got another egg laid outside the nesting boxes today, which is fine so long as the egg isn't being eaten!
  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member 11 Years

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Put a few golf balls in each nest. That solved my problem last spring.
    It usually starts by accident. But then I had caught one of my chickens waiting for someone to lay an egg! I got golf balls and laid them in the nests and all over the place. I
  8. Eliza

    Eliza Songster

    Jun 16, 2008
    Lisbon, CT
    Yup, the old golf ball trick. It sure saved the bacon, er the eggs! In no time too.[​IMG]

    I also put out hay pads under the shelf that the chickens sit on. It created a quiet dark space to get in under and make nests. Of the two nest boxes, all the girls fight for the one. but there is no more eggs being eaten. I watched them peck the golf balls but lose interest. also the layer pellets and oyster shell grit helped too.
  9. Catalina

    Catalina Songster

    Jul 19, 2007
    I had kind of the same expeirence this winter.
    By the way how old are your girls?

    This is my hens 2nd winter. Last winter they were just getting started laying and we didn't have any problems.
    The end of Dec. I noticed that egg production was really down. Maybe I would get 1 egg and a couple days I didn't get any.
    But it's winter, so no big deal!
    Then, I noticed a wet spot in the nest box every night when I would go in to collect eggs.
    Ah ha! I have an egg eater - I thought.
    So I added golf balls.
    Then I found a cracked egg.
    Oh they're laying eggs on the golf balls and the eggs are cracking.
    Take out the golf balls. Put thick hay in the nest box. More cracked eggs, wet spots, half eaten eggs!
    Put golf balls back in. Give up.

    Ok - so I finally figured out that one girl is laying an odd shaped egg. It's flat on one side and weaker, because it's not "egg shaped". The power of the dome is missing. And her egg was cracking and the hens were eating it.

    So now I have a thick, thick layer of hay covered with wood shavings in the nest box and three golf balls in the nest box.
    So far I haven't had an eaten egg/ wet spot in 3 weeks!

    Every once in a while someone lays an egg on the ground. [​IMG] Who knows why.
    Sorry if that didn't help you at all. [​IMG]
  10. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    No, that's all helpful, thanks! My girls were born in July so i guess they're about 7 or 8 months now? (Too late for math and remembering specific dates.)

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