will a hen eat her unhatched eggs?!?!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by 2overeasy, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    I posted yesterday about my hen hatching out 1 chick on Tuesday and as of yesterday still sitting on 5 eggs. this afternoon I went to check on them and no eggs. None. No shell or anything. Just mama and 1 chick. They were there this morning. We have 1 cat that roams around but he's generally scared of the chickens. Besides he wouldn't eat 5 eggs w/out a trace - would he?
    She began sitting on eggs in a nesting box about 2 1/2 ft off floor. On Monday I moved her and eggs to a box on the hen house floor with chick feeder and waterer. On Tuesday single chick hatched. I've been watching ever since, looking to see if eggs had pipped.
    So this is strange. Would a raccoon or other predator go in there during the day? gomer (head rooster) didn't sound any major alarms today (but he does tend to cry wolf, at times).
    So, my question: will the hen eat her unhatched eggs???
     
  2. missred871

    missred871 Eggxhausted Momma

    May 5, 2010
    Perry GA
    yes. unfortunately it happens. Sometimes if you have other hens in with the sitting hens the other hens will eat them as well. I had one I had to seperate when they sat last month because she was eating some eggs. I lost all my button and courtnix eggs to her as well. they will most certainly eat them. I dont know why or if they might know something we dont but yes it does happen. Sorry to hear it though hon.
     
  3. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Wow - that's insane. Some or all of those eggs would have fetuses at some stage of development. I don't think I have another hen who eats eggs - I generally get almost 1 egg per day per hen. But lately the numbers have dropped a bit. Hm. How do I catch an egg-eater?
    Thanks for the advice - and the commiseration. I really have too many chickens anyway, but I've never let a hen hatch any out herself, so I thought it would be a cool experience. It's been almost as much of a headache as the 29 I raised in a bedroom!
     
  4. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Oh, and I've heard of hens eating eggs (although this is a little different), but do roosters eat eggs, too?
     
  5. missred871

    missred871 Eggxhausted Momma

    May 5, 2010
    Perry GA
    yeah well for some reason this hen NEVER ate an egg but the developing eggs must have smelled different to her so she chowed down... I dont know why they do it it is strange when it does happen. though. Yes, roosters will eat eggs as well.
     
  6. missred871

    missred871 Eggxhausted Momma

    May 5, 2010
    Perry GA
    Quote:by the way, the numbers will drop if a hen is in broodiness she will NOT lay. Most hens hit broodiness but there are some breeds that never do. My dark brahma is my fetus eater but she NEVER EVER sits. The only way to catch an egg eater is to catch em in the act and seperate them.
     
  7. cerridwenn

    cerridwenn Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 24, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    yes they do, to them it is just protein, especially as many hens will set on other hens eggs. they also peck each other's wounds and can really hurt each other by cannibalistic behavior. it's just something they do, sometimes from being too confined or not having enough space or toys, but often for no reason at all.

    roos absolutely eat eggs given the opportunity, although some people will never have this happen and some breeds it is very common in comparison. rhode island reds are really bad about eating eggs and it is almost impossible to break the habit once it starts. however, i've never seen them eat the shells and everything, in my experience they would break open the eggs and eat the white and yolk. not saying it doesn't happen, just that i'm not familiar with it. although egg shell has very high calcium, so is it possible your chickens need a calcium boost? that could be a possible reason they might eat the eggs and the shells i guess.

    to catch an egg eater - collect all the eggs but one on a day when you're planning to be home all day. check frequently until you find the egg broken - often they leave them sit for a few hours and if you haven't collected it by then they will go after it. once you find it broken, check beaks for bits of yolk. they're good at hiding, sometimes you have to catch them in the act. another way might be to isolate each hen long enough for her to lay and leave the egg with her for an additional day to see if she ignores it or eats it. depends i guess on how many hens you have if that would be possible to do. what you do with her after you find her is another matter entirely.

    are you sure there is no way a snake could have gotten the eggs? they are the only predator that i can think of that would eat the egg whole. usually if a chicken broke the egg and ate it, there is some mess that soaks into the bedding.
     
  8. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    I did think of snake, but would it eat 5 in one day?
    Also, the bedding was yucky but I assumed it was just poop.
    Again, hm.
     
  9. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Quote:This was my first thought. I have had my share of egg eaters, but they usually do leave a bit of mess behind. I can't imagine that one hen could eat 5 eggs, shell and all, and not leave any traces of yolk or shell in the nest or on her feathers.

    I did think of snake, but would it eat 5 in one day?

    Oh, yeah! I still remember catching a rat snake in a nest that I'd had a hen brooding in. When I picked him up (no, I'm not afraid of non-venomous snakes) I could hear the eggs bumping together inside of him. He'd eaten at least 6, I could count the lumps in him!

    Has a crow found your hen house, by any chance? Crows will carry eggs away whole, and eat them elsewhere or stash them for later. They can be really clever about sneaking in and stealing eggs when you aren't looking!​
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  10. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Crows! Dadgummit - I never would have thought of that. I live on a farm - we've got crows. But I just can't even think of the logistics of that...walking through the little door of the hen house (well, I guess if the chickens can!)...just taking what they want. What a bummer - how do you go about controlling crows, of all things?
     

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