Chicken penitentiary

Something really annoying has been going on in the nesting boxes for the last three weeks. Eggs were being smashed left and right and the culprit(s) were proving hard to find. The nesting boxes were starting to reek from broken and half eaten eggs and our frustration was climbing fast. First we thought it was possums, then we thought it was wild birds, then I saw Jake with egg on her beak and a small hole in an egg.

Noooo, not Jake, the second half to Elwood. Not our pretty green colored egg laying chicken. Hmm, well, on the other hand, she isn’t all that friendly and you can’t get near her during daylight.

Lee and I have been swamped lately so this chicken smashing egg exploder issue had been put on the back burner. This evening was night mission codename “Pickled Egg Eater” and we ambled into action. Jake had no idea what picked her up, but she is now in chicken jail. I will monitor her nefarious egg activities and if she is proved innocent she will be let loose and if she isn’t…oh boy. I’m not sure I’m ready for the other option. Eeeks!

There are golf balls in the chicken nests and our hens have free access to oyster shell supplement, so I don’t know what else we can do to discourage egg eating. I think there may be more than one chicken involved in the egg smashing fun, but we will see. We may just have 9 chicken dinners if every one of them turns out to be an egg eater. Except, then we would have to find the time to butcher 9 chickens… sigh…

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22 Responses to Chicken penitentiary

  1. Bill Gauch says:

    I’ve never had egg eaters, but from all advice, once one starts, they all join in. Also, once they start, they wont stop. If it were me, I would use roll-away nests. The egg rolls safely away from the chicken as soon as it’s laid. It’s seems like a better alternative than butchering old chickens and waiting for the next batch to mature as layers.

    • robin says:

      We briefly had a problem with eggs being eaten a while ago but the golf balls in the nests solved that for us. I have heard of the roll-away nest solution before but I am hesitant to go that route. It would involve tearing off and rebuilding the laying boxes which are built into the coop.

  2. Sheila Z says:

    Some things that worked for me in the past…

    Collect eggs as often as possible, giving them less time to have a chance to eat them.

    Keep lots of clean soft shavings or straw in the nest boxes to cushion the eggs. Thin shells break easily and the longer they are laying the thinner the shells tend to be.

    Never let them run out of fresh water.

    Do they have access to plenty of greens? If not hang some things in the coop to give them food to peck at. Bored chickens are unhappy chickens. Seed heads hung in the coop are another fun thing for chickens.

    Try upping the protein content of their food. Give them some extra treats of people foods. Chickens lacking in protein will seek it out by eating eggs. Dairy is good, provides protein and calcium all in one. Although, what they really want are bugs, but those are hard to harvest for them. Japanese beetles are an all time favorite and those are fairly easy to collect at certain time of the year.

    Fill an empty eggshell with hot mustard and let them get a taste of that.

    Last resort, start butchering.

    The adventures of backyard chickens. The eggs cost twice as much as the ones in the store, but they taste so much better that it’s worth it!

    • robin says:

      Sheila thanks for the long reply. The hens never run out of water as they have a 50 gallon waterer. Their nests are always full of fluffy straw and their food is the highest protein ration we can buy at the feed store. They have a huge section of our garden that is grass and they free range to their hearts content. I didn’t always pick their eggs up every day so I am betting that is what made them start the egg eating. I’m kicking myself now. Ever since they started breaking eggs I have been checking for eggs once to twice a day but to no avail as they had already gotten a taste for it. I think we are going to try the spicy egg trick you mentioned and see if that works.

  3. Ann says:

    I really should verse myself in chicken-ese. I had no idea that chickens would willingly break eggs. It’s like The Secret Order of the Supreme Chicken over at your place. Actually, don’t the french have a recipe for chicken supreme? LOL…

    Nice new chicken pen(itentary)! The outcome of this should prove interesting…

    • lee says:

      We may need that recipe pretty soon! I was telling Robin that the picture of the chickens on the roost above should have been labeled “Monday dinner”, “Tuesday dinner”, “Wednesday …”, etc. Hopefully it won’t come to that though–I can’t eat that much chicken in one week.

  4. Ron says:

    I don’t have any experience with egg pecking. I’ve always worried they would start, and at times suspected it, but in our case it was predators or laying in odd locations.

    Hopefully, it turns out that just the one was doing it!

    • lee says:

      It seemed so random that they suddenly started. We had a brief period of some egg eating a year ago or so, but we added the golf balls and it stopped. I have no idea if the golf balls actually helped or not.

      I was really hoping it was a possum. That’s at least a problem that has a pretty cheap solution.

      • Ron says:

        I should mention that I ran across something that may or may not be helpful. Apparently, one way to narrow down who is doing it is to withhold feed for most of a day. Then go in and scatter feed, which will, of course, get a frenzy going on. Then, place an egg out there and see who goes after it.

        I haven’t tried it myself, but it may help to identify the offender(s).

  5. Rae says:

    Oooh… Bad juju. I hope you can narrow it down to only one or two culprits.

  6. cruddy. When the chicken was broody she was sitting on the eggs and all seemed fine..when I went to check her on the final day(s) I nudged her off her eggs and some were broken and she started going at them..we only have 3 chickens so its usually easy to determine if there is a problem..or who the culpret is. She won’t set anymore either but I guess it’s better then eating them! good luck!

    ..and I am now 1 for 1 for normal posts. I am proud.

    • lee says:

      Yeah, things are a little harder with 9, and I can only imagine what it will be like when we have 27 misbehaving chickens.

  7. Mindy says:

    We had this problem twice. The first time, the offender because fajitas. The second time, I got a suggestion on my blog that worked well, so I’ll pass it on. I’m sure you already do this, but get the laid eggs out as quickly as is possible. Then, if the offending chicken pecks an egg – leave it in the nest box and cover it in hot sauce. I mean the hottest, hot sauce you can find and really drench it. Let her try to eat that. It only took twice and our second “egg eater” was cured. Good luck!

  8. Lynn says:

    Uh Oh. Good luck with the box-o-shame! If we have an egg break by accident, it gets gobbled up right away. They love raw eggs. But it seems they don’t usually break them by themselves. Keep us informed if the hot egg trick works!

    How are the baby chicks?

    • robin says:

      The baby chicks are all doing well so far. I can’t believe how big they are. We are still having a hard time breaking the egg eating.

  9. I can’t add any suggestions that aren’t already listed. The old golf-balls-in-the-nest trick worked for us.

    The single hardest part of keeping livestock, I think, is being prepared to send incorrigible repeat offenders to the Cone of Silence.

    • robin says:

      The golf balls seemed to do the trick for us for a very long time. Guess our old hens got smart. I really do think that we are going to have to use the cone of silence.

  10. Snowbrush says:

    I am absolutely thrilled that you gave me your blog link. This is terrific. It’s the first I’ve seen of your house, and the first I’ve heard about the egg-busting culprit being apprehended. I so look forward to reading everything you post!

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