lately we have been getting less eggs from an our 11 chickens. My wife discovered today just what we suspected, that we have a bird who is eating the eggs before we get to them. Besides eating her, are there any other options on how to break this bad habit? Or is this a sign that she is deficient in some way? Or should we just make chicken and dumplings out of Dumpling? (and yes her name is Dumpling)
Thanks for any help.
Just her own eggs or eggs from other hens as well? If the former, you might be able to break her of the habit by snatching the egg away as soon as it is laid. If the latter, I think you need to warm up the soup pot.
I have one hen that pecks at her own eggs (not other hen's eggs) and sometimes leaves a crack in the shell without breaking the membrane. Usually that is all the damage she does, but occasionally, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, she decides to go all the way and eat one. I can put up with that, but after such an episode, I check for eggs more frequently.
The only thing that ever offered me any chance of a solution besides the hatchet is to isolate the guilty party from the other birds for a while. The challenge is often to distinguish the culprit from the other birds.....look for "egg on the face" !
The 2 biggest causes of cannibalism are lack of protein, and overcrowding.
Chickens try to control flock size to match feed/protein supplies. If there is a shortage of feed or protein, they will try to resolve the issue by eliminating 'the weak'. Eggs are a known source of protein, and they can't fight back. Obvious choice for controlling flock size.
As John Elliot points out, boredom can also be a factor. A cut up winter squash will keep them occupied all day long.
Artificial lighting is another potential cause. We don't often hear of it because it is normally only practiced by the bigger commercial operations, where the birds are caged, and life expectancy of the birds is not a concern. (When the cost of a replacement chick is about equal to the daily cost of feeding a non-producer, the birds get rotated out about the time they molt their first feather.)
If egg eating is a problem (it rarely is), and cannot be otherwise resolved, it's time for chicken salad.
hope it helps
Food is Fuel/medicine trying to grow up and give body what it needs than indulge in superficial comforts.
posted 5 years ago
Thank you everyone for your help. We will be trying these suggestions out this week. If none of it works, I can foresee a very nice Sunday dinner in our future.
We had a Rhode Island Red that was an egg eater. She was starting to teach the others to eat them too. We put chalk eggs (they're selling them now for Easter) in the nest and that really helped a lot. They can't tell the chalk ones from the real ones and the chalk hurts their beaks. We did give that one hen away (warned the recipient about her bad habit) and haven't had any more problems. That batch of hens all had really thin shells so calcium deficiency could have been part of it. We gave them oyster shells but I think it was metabolic because they kept having thin shells but none of our other hens have had a problem.