I have an egg eater, or eaters, somewhere. I free range. My chickens don't always lay in the nest boxes provided and I also have ducks in with them who don't lay in the boxes at all. So whoever is eating eggs is probably going to die. That said, how to discover who it is? I'm thinking secluding a few at a time in a separate building and seeing if there is an egg in a day or so. If not, murder them all. Any other ideas?
Peter Ellis wrote:What makes you think it is one of your birds that is eating eggs? Would not want to go chopping off innocent heads
I'm pretty positive it is them. I've raised various meat type birds, turkeys and cornish X and such, and all of those birds will eat eggs I've found. We just slaughtered our Cornish X this month so now I believe some of the egg layers caught on to the egg eating.
I'm not sure what predator I would have that would eat eggs. Snakes aren't something we have. The birds catch and eat mice. I've never seen a rat. I know there are coons in the area but I imagine they'd want to kill the chickens more. I'm not sure what else I'd have. The dogs tend to be pretty great about keeping most animals away.
I get this problem off and on with my girls. I've generally found that if I give them and extra source of calcium like oyster shells or something AND get out there and grab the eggs as early as possible, that it stops it. Winter time is usually the worst time since they are bored with the lack of green stuff and bugs to munch on. I also keep mine in close confinement at the moment. We had something take my rooster and one of my hens last month. It's always something.
My grandmother would save several days of eggshells and brown them in a frying pan and feed them to the chickens ever so often. It helps but doesn't always stop them. Without having the chickens in a controlled environment it going to be very hard to find the guilty parties, I say it in plural because whenever one finds a goodie the rest will want in on it. If you can't get them gathered and penned, you'll have to spend some time with them in the mornings watching and listening for hens laying spots and then see if there's any suspicious activity in that area before you get the eggs gathered, or gather all the eggs you can find lay them out in a good area for you to be able to watch for egg eaters to show up. It may be just my upbringing but my first suspicion is always the dog and unfortunately, it often is.
I have this problem off and on as well, but there was that one time when the chickens raised a ruckus and I went to the coop to find a skunk in there eating an egg by holding it in his front paws and sticking his face in the hole he had bitten open. He looked at me in the doorway and then went back to his egg. So I got a fallen branch and poked him with it, slamming the door shut just as the window splattered with skunk tear gas. Knowing he had to recharge, I opened the door and he ran out the chicken door, much to the dismay of the flock gathered around, curious to see what's going on.
It probably is the hens though and like the other Bill said; ensure calcium(we just throw all of our compost into the apple orchard/chicken run) and pick up the eggs asap. Once the habit is broken, they seem to stop and you can be more relaxed about picking up the eggs.
We had some problems with egg eating for the first time last year. In order to catch the culprits I used a syringe with a needle to inject eggs with food dye. The idea was to mark the evil dooer(s) and extract revenge. For some weird reason the egg eating stopped that day and I don't know why except maybe they caught on to my plan. I still think it would be a good way to catch the guilty party, but I didn't get to test it this time.
Well it appears not to be an every day thing. Some days I'll go in and find an egg and sometimes I just find shell. I do work full time so going in to collect eggs right after they are laid is impossible for me. But I've been feeding them different things and it's been warm enough for them to get out of the barn. Perhaps that is helping with the egg eating. Thanks for all the tips!!!
Sometimes my chickens eat eggs when they aren't getting enough feed, so adding some extra grain helps with that. If you look closely, you will often find a bird with "egg on her face". Also, in the past my chooks have had times where their calcium drops for whatever reason and the shells become thinner, causing some eggs to break as they are being sat on. At that point the chickens figure it's a good treat. So the above recommendations to boost calcium also apply.