Stupid chickens

After we caught “Jake the egg eater,” the next day we caught two more chickens eating eggs. They were put in the box-o-shame.

We got a previously cracked empty egg and filled it full of hot sauce and put it in their pen. Sure enough, all three chickens had to take a taste.

There was some extreme chicken distress going on in the box-o-shame. Lee and I deduced that somebody really needed to lay an egg and was trying to hold out until they could get to their nesting box. We decided to let them back out, since we could uniquely identify all three chickens if we needed to butcher them later. All three chickens made a mad dash to the nesting boxes and in about twenty minutes all three had laid an egg.

We kept putting hot sauce in any broken eggs we found and our unbroken egg collection rate went up dramatically. I think partly this happened because I spent the day working in the garden. I would stop and get an egg every time the “HELLO WORLD! I LAID AN EGG” crowing started.

This is not a success story yet. We are still getting broken eggs. Lee said he saw one chicken eating an egg despite the hot sauce on top of it. Apparently chickens can’t taste the capsaicin in spicey food. For that reason, we got a bottle of hot wasabi mustard and will try that next.

In other chickens news, we have a chick house full of piranhas.

At night when the chicks would be relaxing under the heat light, I started noticing plucked bare backs. Oh joy of joys! We knew it was cramped in the mini-coop but I was hoping we would get the coop moved and have them free-ranging before anything like this happened. Lee has ordered wheels online, but until they arrive and he builds the mini-coop moving rig we needed an alternate solution. A midnight operation of “Save The Naked Chicken Butts” commenced and the box-o-shame was converted into the box-o-victims.

The box-o-victims turned out to be every chick that wasn’t a Lakenvelder. I think we must have racist chickens. Well I take that back, the Lakenvelders have allowed one Araucana to remain with them un-plucked. Every morning I expect to find that last chick plucked bare by the piranhas. Surprising facts about Lakenvelders: they are the smallest breed we ordered, they are the most dominant, and they were the first to start crowing. The mini-coop is parked just outside our back door, and with all the pubescent crowing it sounds like someone is throwing a party with kazoos.

The king of the box-o-victims is happy. We call him Beak Head. The other chicks weren’t happy with him as they are pretty peaceful and Beak Head really wanted to prove how awesome he was by stomping on them. I say ‘was’ because Beak Head has hurt his leg and is no longer pulling king of the box moves.

Poof Head is ridiculously cute but is a little overwhelmed by life. She never knows what is going on because she can’t see a thing. When the other chickens run from us in terror, she runs toward us. Her male pattern baldness (courtesy of the Lakenvelders) is starting to grow back in. Poor thing. The second little Poof Head seems to be much more with it. Maybe that’s because her head feathers haven’t blocked off her eyesight yet.

So far I have been liking our new Araucana strain, the Cochin, and the Polish (even though they are ridiculous). The Lakenvelders have been my least favorite. We will see how they are when they get older. They are supposed to be great at foraging. It’s no big loss though (as we can just eat them), and sometimes you just have to experiment to find the breeds that work best for you.

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20 Responses to Stupid chickens

  1. Ron says:

    Stupid chickens, indeed. Those birds can be infuriating. Chickens drive me crazy.

    • robin says:

      Our chickens are really annoying me. I feel grumpy every time I open the egg box and see another broken egg. GRRRRR

  2. Snowbrush says:

    Wow, I didn’t know you had so many!

    They don’t know what lucky chickens they are to live with you instead of in an “eggplant.” I visited one of those places once, and I’ve seen undercover camera investigations of others.

    I enjoyed the photos.

    • lee says:

      Well, half of the small ones are males, so they won’t all be egg layers. Our current laying hens have about an eighth acre of grass–they do have it pretty good. I’ve seen some of those photos too, and it’s partly to blame for why we are living here and raising our own chickens.

  3. It’s spring, and I think a lot of us are in the same situation — every possible vessel is filled with chickens. We have one in the broody breaker box, six in the coop, and eleven chickes in the brooder, which they will outgrow before we can integrate them with the full-grown flock. I need a really big box.

    Love your Poof Heads. They enliven any flock.

    • robin says:

      I love my poof heads too. 🙂 Next time when we get animals I want to be better prepared. I always say that though and then…

  4. So true. My friends always laugh when I tell them that chickens are racists. They think I am kidding but these birds certainly have a sense of us vs them. It doesn’t always come out but it does if they are stressed and competing for scarce resources.
    I have heard that sometimes cannibalism and egg breaking can be related to not enough protein in the chickens diet. Some folks have had success breaking the habits by giving them a bit of dried cat food, as it has more protein. It might be worth a try if you have some available.

    Best of luck.
    FFR

    • robin says:

      Hi Frustrated Farmer Rick. I’ve never heard of the cat food trick. Hmm I suppose it could be worth a try. Our farm store has three levels of chicken feed and we buy the one with the highest protein.

      I’m wondering what the chick flock dynamic is going to be once they are all let loose in their big pen. With more space (and some rooster culling) I hope they will be able to co-exist a little more peacefully. Lee is wondering if the Lakenvelder’s might always be bullies and make us keep the new chick flock split. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    • angie says:

      i was always told that when they eat their eggs they are lacking something in their diet. oystershells from the local feed store may stop it. crushed egg shell browned in the microwave may also help. i have fed the egg shells and know others that have and it fixed our problem. oystershells worked for my friend. i did not try them. when my parents feed their cat they have to guard the food becuase their chickens love it.

      • robin says:

        Angie the chickens have free access to oyster shells. I think they really just have a taste for their own eggs at this point.

  5. Rae says:

    Chickens are TOTALLY racist! 🙂

    Our mixed chicks and our buffs eat separately and for the most part forage separately too. If we throw scratch out, half will go right and half left. Little feathery bigots. Lol.

    • lee says:

      I’ve suspected the same thing with our first batch of chickens. The Rocks and Reds and Araucanas always hang out with they own variety. It was still a little surprising to see the Lakenvelders picking only on the Araucanas. I mean, it ultimately comes down to their breeding and dominance, but it’s a fitting anthropomorphism.

  6. they are cute..but eating eggs is your job! Perhaps some behavior modification is in order.. Maybe you could show them a film with some of the old ultraviolence in it a la Robot Chicken?..then play a little Beethoven in the coop? hehe. I am no expert, sorry. Wish I had more hens but at this point 2 eggs a day is more then I need! good luck..with them developing a taste for hot sauce maybe they are Cajun chicks and will start clucking in creole!

    • robin says:

      Ha I love that. I am always threatening them with chicken spanking but they just look at me like I’m mentally challenged.

  7. Ginger says:

    We’ve noticed the same thing with our latest batch of pullets. We ordered half Easter Eggers, one forth RIR, and one fourth Buff Orpingtons. For all of their reputation as being a mellow breed, the Buffs were at the top of the pecking order with not a feather lost from their tails, the RIR had lost a couple of feathers, but the poor Easter Eggers were at the bottom of the pecking order with the most of the naked butts being the EEs.

    I prefer to think of them as Breedist. 😉

    • robin says:

      Hmm, I think Breedist is right. 🙂

      The two Auracanas in our group of 9 are always on the bottom of the totem pole too. They have gotten good at evasive maneuvers to avoid pecks of pain.

  8. Lynn says:

    Wow, you do have your hands full! With all those baby chickens, the adults chickens eating their own eggs, the work on the house, the garden… It never ends! Good luck!

    Our chickens will eat any egg that somehow gets broken. Sometimes, if the nest boxes are full, or for some other reason the hens cannot lay during the day, they lay night eggs- an egg pops out when they are standing on the roost, falls to the ground, and breaks open. Night eggs are always eaten. Often, if an egg is laid at night, it will have a soft shell. Soft eggs are always eaten. But our hens don’t break open good eggs laid in the nest boxes, thank goodness!

    I love to look at the puffy-head chickens. We used to have a young male Polish mix rooster back when we first started with chickens. I named him Little Puff. We had to get rid of him, he was too spastic and high strung. He got too hyper and got everyone else all worked up. I swore off Polish birds back then.

    Can you just let the baby birds free with your adults hens? You said you are waiting to get the coop moved? I thought I had my hands full with the 4 mama hens and their babies. I think you are busier!
    Again, good luck with all this – it sounds like alot of stress! Stupid chickens!!

    • robin says:

      We never have eggs at night when they are roosting. Does that happen often with your flock?

      It will be interesting to see how our two little Polish hens turn out. They seem pretty mellow right now, but anything compared to our Lakenvelders seem calm. lol

      Lee wants to get the younger birds trained on the hot wire. The garden part where our big 9 hens are doesn’t have a hot wire inside the fence. With the egg eating problems also going on we didn’t want to train them on that bad habit either.

  9. Pingback: Sometimes chickens are just really annoying | Farm Folly

  10. Lou says:

    have had the same problem with the chicken pecking order; to the point that they will kill another; solution was to identify the aggressor and clip the upper beak just enough so that it was shorter than the lower beak;

    Lou

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