Yesterday a reader asked:
“My outside chickens, eat their eggs, if not picked up regularly. Is this normal?”
Here is my answer:
When I was thinking about answering this question last night I was going to verify:
Where you lived – in the Northeast we are getting socked with cold and snow which is creating some very bored chickens and bored chickens can do nasty things.
What you are feeding your chickens – in the winter chickens need a little more fat in their diet, if they are not getting it from the feed they might be looking for it in other places. Another thing to check is if your chickens are getting enough food to sustain them in the colder months.
How many chickens do you have with the follow up of how much space do they have – crowded chickens are stressed chickens.
But then I saw that you are asking about your *outside* chickens. Are you saying that your outside chickens are laying eggs in the great outdoors (presumably in a large area) and then eating their eggs? Um, no, that’s not normal behavior.
If that’s the case, I have a few ideas:
You first need to verify the offender, are you sure that it’s actually a chicken that is eating the eggs and not a neighborhood intruder (skunk, raccoon, dog)?
If it is a chicken, you may have a confirmed egg eater in your flock. If you can catch the culprit then you can try to break the behavior, I’d confine the bird with a few marble eggs and let her learn that eggs can hurt when pecked.
I’d also set up outdoor nesting areas (if you don’t already have them) so that the chickens can identify that this is the “egg area” and then if the behavior continues, I’d slip some of those marble eggs in the nests. I use a bank of horse feed buckets as our outdoor nesting area.
The best method to curb egg eating behavior is, as you have learned, to gather the eggs quickly. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not possible.
The second best method is to try and change the chicken’s behavior.
I have to warn you that once some chickens become egg eaters, they will always be egg eaters (why not? Good fat and nutrition source with very little work.) If you can’t change the behavior, you’ll need to either isolate the bird from the flock or invite her to Sunday dinner (or live with a reduced egg supply.)
Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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