Chickens breaking eggs

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alanw0
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Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252073Post alanw0
Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:20 pm

Hi there all, am looking for some advice from the chicken owning contingent out there...

We have had 3 ex battery hens for the past 8 months or so. Up until recently we have been getting a fairly decent supply of eggs from them with no real issues. The last week or two though we have been finding the eggs broken in the nest box and have not had a whole one since it started.

A bit of Googling has led to the suggestions of increasing the amount of bedding, upping the amount of calcium in their diet with more oyster shells and putting golf balls in the nest box. We have done all of this but doesn't seem to have made a difference.

Anyone out there got any ideas??!!

Thanks,
Al

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252074Post The Riff-Raff Element
Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:15 pm

Rather than being a problem with the shells, you may have an outbreak of egg eating.

Fond as I am of chickens, I recognise that they are not the brightest of creatures, but occaisonally it filters into their tiny brains that eggs are good eating. And once they get an idea lodged it can be hard to shift it.

What I have done in the past is to make the nesting box as dark as possible. I do this by closing up the entrance to the minimum possible to restrict light and blocking up any other little holes that are letting this in. This seems to work quite well - the chickens seem to reason that if they can't see it, it doesn't exist.

One other thing you might try is suppliementing their diets. Chickens need significant quantities of an amino acid called methionine in their diets - more than can be provided in a purely vegetarian diet, though oats are quite a good source and may be beneficial. When free-ranging they will usually get all they need from the insects and worms they take, but at this time of year that can be difficult. There is a body of opinion that lack of this amino acid stimulates egg-eating: since the eggs they lay are a rich source, the birds recycle it. You should be able to get a methionine suppliemnt from your feed supplier.

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252080Post Penny Lane
Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:13 pm

What I have done in the past is to make the nesting box as dark as possible. I do this by closing up the entrance to the minimum possible to restrict light and blocking up any other little holes that are letting this in. This seems to work quite well - the chickens seem to reason that if they can't see it, it doesn't exist.
I can vouch for this - one of my girls accompanied me when getting the eggs one day, as soon as I lifted the hatch she started pecking at them. Funny things, hens.
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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252121Post trappa
Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:21 pm

Ive had this too, but found which one was the culprit and necked it. Once they start egg eating i dont believe that they stop.

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252132Post Thomzo
Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:54 pm

I've had this in the past and managed to break the habit.
As you've already suggested, deep bedding helps as it makes it more difficult for them to break the eggs.

You can also buy beak bumpers, little plastic things that you put over the beaks. Alternatively, you can trim the ends off their beaks to make them less pointed. I haven't ever had to resort to either of there methods.

Try a proper ceramic egg, rather than a golf ball. You need it to look as similar as possible to their own eggs. If you are around, grab the newly laid eggs out of the nesting box as quickly as you can and pop this in instead. They'll try to break it, thinking it's real and hurt themselves.

If that doesn't work, take a proper egg, break it in half and empty out the contents. Then fill with a mixture of strong english mustard and chilli, mix with a bit of flour to make it stiff, then put the two halves of the egg back together and place in the nesting box. They'll take a peck or two and it'll put them off.

Do they have plenty of fresh water? Sometimes it's thirst that forces them to break open the eggs.

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252135Post Marc
Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:36 pm

Are they in an open run? - my first suggestion is that it's not the hens that have started it but a magpie. They will find their way in through even a small gap and go through the pophole. I got hardly any eggs until I fenced them out.
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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252138Post alanw0
Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:58 pm

Thanks guys.

Going to have a crack at making the nesting area darker as well as the mustard filled egg.
Bumping them off is probably a bit extreme and not sure I'm up to trimming the beaks!

Fingers crossed that we can break the habit!

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252140Post oldjerry
Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:54 am

I agree with all the above,didn't know about the Amino acid stuff,but if RRE goes for it that's good enough .
Could I suggest to darken the laying area you have curtains of hessian (or similar lightweight stuff)hanging down in front,so your hens can push it aside or slip underneath to enter the the nestboxes,it seems recently that this has gone out of fashion,but it was always common practice.
Another thought following on from RRE,it's strange(and it may be ridiculous) but it seems to me that the more stupid a creature is(and let's face it,hen's are way down there with Jedward and Louise Mensch) the more nature equips them with the innate ability to know what their body needs,so if they're breaking the eggs it 's probably something they're missing in their diet.BW

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252182Post alanw0
Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:46 pm

oldjerry wrote: it seems to me that the more stupid a creature is(and let's face it,hen's are way down there with Jedward and Louise Mensch)
:lol: :lol:

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252505Post alanw0
Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:28 pm

Nest box darkened with a curtain, chicks took a while to figure it out but now found their way back in. Also trying to add to and vary their diet some more.
Have also resorted to nuclear tactics of mustard filled eggs... Cue explosion of incensed clucking and much excitement in the hen house :shock:

Just hoping it works now...

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252532Post Lost-in-the-Day
Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:10 am

Whenever we've had broken eggs it's always been the chickens eating their own eggs, usually one starts it off (either by accident or design) and then once they discover how yummy they are they make it into a habit and the others join in. Usually it either stopped after a while by itself or we'd remove the hen responsible for a few days till she stopped or we'd figure out the best times to get the eggs out of the nest boxes before the chicken got to them. Seems if they don't eat them for a while they forget that they were tasty!
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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 252596Post merlin
Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:12 pm

I am with with Trappa on this one, however, if you are a smallholder, or at least around all day you can break the habbit by taking the eggs away as soon as they are laid. You will know your chickens, and what sounds they make, just turf them off as soon as they lay, we have had a lot of success with this, but you have to be around the place all day. Other than that, Trappa is right. They seem to start for no reason.

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 253986Post Spinpup
Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:32 pm

We had a hen we suspected was 'accidentally' breaking eggs. The other girls all joined in. We broke them of the habit by deep littering, using a fake egg smeared in peanut butter and removing the eggs as soon as we heard the tell-tale clucking.

But the suspect hen died not long after of egg peritonitis. Seems she had been ill all along. So maybe it's a fact that they are missing something, or something's wrong when they do this. I'll try the vet first next time.

Michelle

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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 254252Post bill1953
Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:53 pm

Thomzo wrote:I've had this in the past and managed to break the habit

If that doesn't work, take a proper egg, break it in half and empty out the contents. Then fill with a mixture of strong english mustard and chilli, mix with a bit of flour to make it stiff, then put the two halves of the egg back together and place in the nesting box. They'll take a peck or two and it'll put them off.



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Re: Chickens breaking eggs

Post: # 254346Post Thomzo
Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:45 pm

bill1953 wrote:
Thomzo wrote:I've had this in the past and managed to break the habit

If that doesn't work, take a proper egg, break it in half and empty out the contents. Then fill with a mixture of strong english mustard and chilli, mix with a bit of flour to make it stiff, then put the two halves of the egg back together and place in the nesting box. They'll take a peck or two and it'll put them off.



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Just made a mental note to never let you serve me a boiled egg :thumbright:
Just inspect it first for tell-tale cracks around the middle. :lol:
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