Sunday, February 20, 2011

On the subject of egg eating

First off, I had an extremely successful hatch rate. 6/8 is really good!  I am so surprised by this that I actually don't know what to do with them now. So if anyone would like a trio (two hens and a roo), then let me know!  I'll raise them up for you and you can have them for the low low price of $30!  Anywho, I have five girls and one boy!  I named the little guy Vincent and I know I can't keep him... well unless Bill does something particularly bad, then he can certainly be replaced, but I have to tell you, Vincent is the cutest chick out of all of them.  Though my husband would disagree, he thinks our newest one Macky is the cutest.  She was stuck in her egg and needed a lot of help.  I tried "zipping" the egg for her but by the time I intervened she was too tired to do anything.  Matthew then basically hatched half of her egg off.  The next day she managed to get out of the rest of the egg but she still had membrane stuck to her down.  So I had to soak that off of her.  It took her another two days to actually dry off completely.  She is such a runt but then again she and the oldest hatched basically four days apart.  My oldest, Elle, already has tiny feathers on her wings! 

I will post some new photos of everyone tomorrow.  I took some this evening and I have a little photo shoot planned for them tomorrow.  Gotta keep up with my 365 photo challenge, I am a photographer and not a farmer after all.  So yes, on to the subject of egg eating.   Well my special chicken... BB, as you know has had some struggles.  She is at the bottom of the pecking order and was a late bloomer.  She finally started laying eggs and I was so pleased.  But then she started eating them. :(  This is terrible.  It is almost impossible to break a chicken of this habit and they will teach it to the other hens and even the rooster.  I separated BB immediately and I prayed that the behavior hasn't caught on.  I don't think it has because I have seen no evidence of more egg eating.  Because she is new to egg laying, I have to wait for her to lay another to see exactly what is happening.  But I know she is the culprit.  I was told to give her a blown egg full of mustard, apparently chickens hate it.  I brought it out to her and she immediately started pecking at it.  She got to the mustard and loved it.  She gobbled down half of it.  I was stunned.  She even sounded like she burped when she was finished.

So I guess filling the eggs with things isn't going to work.  I had some people tell me that they scolded their chickens when they pecked the eggs.  I don't want BB to hate me, she is my fav and lets me carry her around and stuff... but maybe I can scold her and shoo her away from the eggs.  I'm also changing her diet up.  I think she didn't realize the oyster shells I put out were food... they are full of calcium and chickens will often eat their own eggs if they don't have enough calcium.  So it's down to trying to turn the behaviour around with praise and scoldings and with nutrition. 

Wish me luck.. I don't know what I'll do if I can't turn this around.  I don't want to clip her beak, I think it's cruel and I don't want to cull her either... ugh.


  1. I found this page online, although I bet you've googled it already. I thought the tip about milk was pretty interesting though:

  2. Thank you :) I did read the milk one and tried to give some to BB. She was distraught about being separated and knocked it over. What I have done today is kept her penned, and tested her a few times with an egg. She doesn't like being scolded and swatted away from the egg. Once I figured everyone who was going to lay had, I let her out to go spend time in the flock. Then I separated her again once it was time to sleep. This way, she gets to be with everyone part of the day and I can keep an eye on her and make sure she isn't showing anyone else how to eat eggs. But thank you for doing some research too. This is quite stressful because I don't know what I'll do if I don't break her of it.

  3. I've got a friend in Australia who keeps chickens as well, I'll buzz her tonight and see what she's done in this situation.

  4. I had a chat with my friend last night, and she did mention something that wasn't on that website, so I thought I'd pass it along. She hasn't had much issue with egg-eating (she's got about 5 hens right now), but she did theorize that lack of calcium may make the eggs weak, and if the egg breaks when the hen sits on it, she will be tempted to find out what's inside. You mentioned already that you know BB is actively pecking the shells, so she also suggested trying black pepper on the shells instead of mustard.

    And from working with dogs (and cats!) clicker training would probably work really well. I have both of my cats clicker trained for the carrying kennel, not just for vet trips, but for any time we need to get out of the house in a hurry (fire, flood, bad weather). The cats don't seem to mind either, as they know they get treats when I click, and that's not always. I re-enforce it every three months or so, just to keep it fresh. I daresay a chicken could be easily clicker trained as well.

  5. Thanks! BB laid an egg today and didn't break it. I think the eggs are getting stronger which is good. This one was shaped sooo strange, it was like it had been flattened but it wasn't crushed or pecked. I have been giver her oyster shells, milk, and ground up egg shell in the hope that her egg shells will get stronger. When she realizes she can't crack them easily, perhaps she will leave them be. Plus she doesn't like me swatting her away from the eggs.

    If she goes for the egg again tomorrow I may try black pepper but I am hesitant about trying to keep her away via food since she wasn't supposed to like mustard haha.