WHEN CHICKENS ARE LEFT WITH EGG ON THEIR FACES Egg eating is a vice: check if the chickens are getting enough nutrition in their regular feed
QWe have a mixed flock of five hens who free range happily together and lay well. However, we often have an egg that has been broken and eaten. Most often it is one of the blue eggs from an Araucana/ Cream Legbar cross, maybe because her eggs have quite fragile shells. But other eggs also get vandalised. Do you have any tips on how to avoid this happening? We already use rollaway nest boxes, but even with those we have broken eggs, which shows a certain level of determination and cunning. We don’t know who the culprit is, or if there is more than one. Any advice is most welcome.
VICTORIA ROBERTS SAYS:
In order to find your culprit, put an open egg in the hen coop with some green food colouring in it — then you will see who has egg on her face. Egg eating is a vice — check on the quality of the feed you are using as sometimes the hens are not getting sufficient nutrition. Also make sure that not too many treats are fed as this merely dilutes the balanced ration of commercial feed. You can scatter golf balls or ping pong balls around the floor of the hut to distract the culprit(s). They do copy one another as I’m sure you probably know. I am glad that you are using rollaway nest boxes, as this is a great help.
If there are any rats around, these love eggs and can leave a bit of shell behind or even roll an egg away before eating it. Keep feed off the floor either by hanging the feeder above the height a rat can reach or use rat-proof treadle feeders. It is the smell of the feed that first attracts rats which can bring disease. You will also be faced with a lot of extra feed being consumed. Trapping is more environmentally friendly than poison (see page 66- 67), but you may need the help of an experienced trapper.