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Mabel

Egg Eating

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Hi I am having a problem with one of our girls who has started to eat her own eggs. I've checked all the obvious things, but unfortunately she is still at it. Trying to catch her out is proving difficult as she tends to lay at irregular times in the day. Any help/advice much appreciated, thanks

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Might she be laying soft shelled eggs if she is going into the moult, and then just clearing up the nest when one is accidentally damaged.

 

You can check how confirmed an egg eater she is by putting a normal egg on the run floor where she can see it and checking her reactions. If she is a genuine egg eater, rather than just eating eggs inadvertenly damaged, then she will rush towards it and peck it hard till it breaks

 

If she is going into the moult and laying thin/soft shelled eggs there is not much you can do, but make sure she has plenty of protein in her diet and oystershell grit available also a bit of cod liver oil for vit d which helps efficient absorbtion of calcium can help, just don't overdo it, the merest amount will suffice.

 

You could try darkening the nest box by hanging a bit of towelling or blanket about 2/3rds of the way over the opening. Rollaway nest boxes can also help.

 

Sometimes an egg, blown and filled with natural washing up liquid like ecover can put them off. Its no good trying mustard/chilli eggs, birds are designed to eat hot seeds, it is only mammals which are affected by the chemicals they contain.

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I have started having the same problem. One of our three hens has started laying very early in the morning on the roosting bars. For two days I have found the egg pecked open and some of the contents dropped through the bars onto the shavings beneath (I assume some has been eaten as well) Can't' think how to deal with this - I try to get out to open the secure run at dawn (not too bad this time of year!) and check the bars but I think I will have to wait until whichever the early bird is starts to lay later in the day again. Once they're all out of the coop before any of them lay it will probably be o.k. I'm sorry one has got the taste for eggs, though - it can become a real habit I gather. Any further advice from anyone? The washing up liquid egg won't work unless I put it in overnight presumably?

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Are they just coming into lay? If so the problem may sort itself out ok. Would be worth putting a china or rubber egg in the nest box where you want them to lay just to give them the idea, also if they peck at it nothing happens.

 

Make sure there is oystershell always on offer in a small container, and that they are getting enough vit d - are any of us this year? They call it the Sunshine Vitamin :lol:

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Yes - it would have been me - I am not allowed to be known as D-B-E on here :D

 

It was a old favourite trick of mine, but apparently some modern day poultry keepers seem to have got the idea that milk is poison for chickens, so I often keep my counsel :wink:

 

But as one who kept a milking cow some years ago and fattened cockerels and pigs on skim and wheatings plus kitchen s"Ooops, word censored!"s I can confirm mine all survived (well the required amount of time anyway) :wink:

 

I often hesitate to mention feeding extra protein online, as I dislike arguments, and so many folk seem to have absorbed the idea that layers pellets are the ideal ration. They certainly are for the small framed modern commercial hybrids bred to lay maximum eggs on minimum feed value, but not every bird is like that. But certainly unless you are prepared to carefully work out and balance a ration they are the best option.

 

Extra protein is valuable at certain times, ie early growth period, moulting, and for certain breeds like Marans, but how to give this and comply with DEFRA regs is a moot point. Victorian poultry farmers recommended unlimited amount of fresh egg shells or eggs to stop egg eating.

 

Total free range in a varied woodland environment supplemented with a good balanced whole grain diet is probably the answer - but with todays fox population who can provide that :(

 

But hens coming into or going out of lay will often be taken by surprise and lay soft shelled eggs on the perches. This normally sorts itself out once the laying gets into full swing, which is why I suggested darkened nest boxes and false eggs. If this doesn't work then further measures may be called for. :)

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Thanks for advice, Sue. No, they aren't new layers, they're just coming into their second autumn so perhaps moulting is on the way? I'll keep the milk idea as a back-up as I can't see it can be harmful - after all they eat small amounts of cheese in their treat sometimes! I usually make some porridge or warm muesli in the cold afternoons so this could be made with milk instead of water? Anyway, for the moment I've managed to catch the eggs as soon as laid, about 6.30am (good job I'm an early riser too!) and so have got them out of the way quickly for the last two days.

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Well, Sue, it's definitely helped and has certainly done them no harm, infact they love the milk. I was convinced there was no calcium issue because they have quality feed and constant grit. Today I have noticed feathers everywhere and Willow's shells aren't as thick as I'd like them to be. So obviously there is something going on diet-wise there.

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Thanks so much for your help, she isn't eating other eggs only her own, so perhaps she is laying soft shells. Plus she hasn't had her moult yet, but is due.

I will watch and wait!

 

Hens are genetically programmed to eat eggs which are not strong enough to be "sat " on. Most hens, when they have laid, will get their breath back for a few moments, then inspect the egg by a gently tap with their beak. You will sometimes see evidence of this with a small oval hole in the shell, but if the shell is weak the egg breaks, and the hen - waste not want not - will eat the egg and normally the shell and any eggy bedding as well, in other words clean out the nest so other eggs are not at risk of infection.

 

The trouble arises sometimes in that the hen develops a taste for eggs, then will not only eat every one of her own eggs, but may eat others eggs as well, and even worse teach the trick to others in the flock.

 

Chestnut Mare - Milk probably contains easily absorbable calcium and the vitamins needed to help absorption. :) After all calves must need enormous quantities of calcium for their early growth.

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Mine are moulting, and egg eating due to a higher number of fragile shells :roll:

 

I will try some milk too, thanks for the tip.

 

I'd given extra oyster shell and tried some limestone flour on their pellets too, and have been giving mealworms for extra protein for their moult. I only just had enough eggs today to make my nephews birthday cake :shock:

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Ok you lot :o:lol: I wish I had kept quiet about this now. :D

 

1 - Egg eating is a normal behaviour when egg shells are thin. The danger arises when it becomes a habit, which may first start with a protein imbalance (so think when you are giving "treats" whether they contain more or less protein than their pellets - which often contain the minimum needed for laying).

 

2 - Hens will naturally lay thin shelled eggs at certain times, particularly when approaching the moult, and especially those high laying hybrids, which have been bred to lay vast quantities of eggs in the first part of their life

 

3 - The calcium hens need for their egg shells comes actually from their bones, and their feed replaces this. Those hens who have over produced will possibly always have a problem.

 

4 - You cannot expect any hen to lay eggs whilst they are moulting and regrowing feathers. As they approach the moulting period they will gradually lay fewer eggs, and the shell quality will deteriorate, and even soft shelled eggs occour, and then they will normally cease laying for the duration of the moult. The moulting period tends to start at the end of the summer through into early winter. Depending on the breeding of the hen and the weather conditions it will take a few weeks or 2 months or more.

Feeding extra limestone at this time is not going to help, and may overload their kidneys. I would not add oystershell to the feed, but put it in a small individual pot for them to take when they need it.

 

5 - The milk thing is an emergency "fix" when things are going horribly wrong. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing sometimes and I feel it is best to concentrate on supplying good quality properly balanced feed and as much quality free range as possible. Often these problems are associated with chickens which lay a lot of eggs,ie the modern commercial high laying hybirds. To avoid this you could try to choose a breed which is know for the strength of its shell over a period of time, not simply its first 12 months of lay.

 

6 - When you are feeding anything don't forget we are much larger volume wise compared to a chicken and adjust your quantities accordingly.

 

Here endeth the lesson for today....... :lol::lol::lol:(I remember why I pm'd you now Chestnut Mare rather than posting on open forum :lol: )

 

zakjon-98 - Peck holes in eggs can often mean you have over enthusiatic shell testers rather than thin shelled eggs. Also are you sure they are peck holes and not toe holes which happens when a clumsy layer is adjusting the nest, again not the result of thin shells.

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Thank goodness for your initial post. I was losing all hope, after some good years of chicken keeping. :doh:

I'm suffering from a soft shelled layer all of a sudden, then only one egg being laid and eaten before I can ever collect it from my four girls.

 

Of my two White egg layers and two brown egg layers, I thought my oldest chicken was no longer laying, and the hybrid was, but once the oldest went into moult, I figured she had been my layer of every two days after all. So no brown egg now.

 

Then one of my White laying hybrids laid a soft shell, the first time in three years, and then the only one White egg laid every few days, was already eaten before I could get it.....and this in the summer too.

 

I've tried changing back to the dearer layers pellets, super corn for the afternoon...I have oyster shell, I wormed them, I have chicken spice, something which has limestone flour in it, and I have some keep well pellets.

 

I have just about given up....I think they all have started eating eggs now. I have rubber egg in the nest to spur them on, to no avail...they are still eating the only White egg layed. ( sorry iPad keeps capitalising the word white )

 

Anyway...thanks to all, I'll try milk.

 

And then I don't know what. I'd like to add to my girls, I have had seven girls in the past, but husband will go mad:-)

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just found this I have a blacktail which is laying soft shell and eating them so will give the milk a try and see if that helps. She is not moulting so I know that is not the problem, looks and acts very healthy. One other chicken has gone through an enormous moult, looked awful, but now getting feathers back for the cold weather.

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Hi all,

 

I read this thread with much interest. Think I have an egg eating problem, I'll try to give you all some back ground info to help, any advice is welcome, I'm new to keeping chickens

 

I have 2 girls, I got 3 hybrids at POL in Sept and 2 started laying shortly afterwards (one never did, she got poorly and has gone to chicken heaven in Nov, think she was never quite right bless her). Other 2 were fine, although one stopped laying breifly but after flubenvet started again but with soft shells. For a few weeks they were soft but they were gradually getting stronger. Some of these were getting eaten, but I had put this down to them being soft and easily damaged and didn't worry too much. I tried to get the eggs out as soon as she had laid but as you all know it's not always possible to be watching them all day everyday. However, today I went on my egg collection and they had eaten both eggs! the other girls eggs are never soft and the remaining shell I found didn't appear soft. I think I know which one it is too (the one who is producing the hard eggs) as she's so greedy and I noticed her hovering by the next box whilst the other was laying today, in eager anticipation no doubt! They have a roomy WIR, adn FR when I'm out & about.

 

What shall I do? I'll watch tomorrow to see if they attack the 'hard' egg again.

 

My husband will not be at all impressed if we don't get any eggs, I'll be pretty miffed too! Just when things seemed to finally be going well with them too. I never anticipated it would be this difficult to keep a few chooks!

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