Hens Who Eat Their Eggs

Gavin Flock

A chicken who eats eggs from the nest is not a common problem, but it does exist. For obvious reasons this is a bad habit that needs to be addressed ASAP. If you don’t, the other members of the flock will soon be helping themselves to the goodies too.

There are a few things to try, but in my opinion they all take too long and there’s no time to waste. Chicken training has a rather poor success rate so let’s forget that too.  What chickens are capable of is making choices, they know what they like and what they don’t.

We already know they like what’s inside fresh eggs, the trick is to change what they like into something they HATE. How?

Take a thumb tack and poke a little hole at each end of a fresh egg. Blow at one end of the egg until it’s empty, then squeeze yellow mustard into the egg and place it in the nest.

Chickens hate mustard, once they find it in an egg it will become something to avoid.  Just make sure you stay on top of egg collection for a few days.

For the less determined chicken, removing all the hay or bedding from the nest is sometimes enough to discourage egg eating. An egg that rolls is harder for them to peck at, and often just not worth the effort.

Try one way, try the other, or try them both at the same time, just nip this problem in the butt before it becomes a bigger one.

Feed Store Chicken Lottery

The Pullet is a Rooster? Options and Solutions

They’re pullets, all female, and that’s why you bought those cute little chicks from the feed store. You certainly didn’t expect to get stuck with a rooster, but now you’re the unlucky one who has fallen into that teeny tiny margin of error and have an unwanted cockerel.

Considering your Options

Check your city ordinances, roosters are often banned in suburban areas, so considering the impossibility of hiding him, an eviction notice is definitely in order. I know this is a hard decision, but it only takes one neighbor to complain and the law will be snooping and sniffing around your property.

If you are allowed to have a rooster you still may have a problem if you already have one. Rule of thumb… more than one rooster to a flock is a no-no.  Another thing to consider is your hen’s eggs are going to be fertile, not exactly an ideal situation if you’re selling eggs.

Not all chicken keepers raise meat birds, so us folks who keep only layers have completely ruled out killing and cooking one of our own birds for dinner. That’s an art in itself, and if you’re like me, one better left to somebody else.

Check with the feed store you bought the bird from, sometimes they’ll take it back.  But realistically, most unwanted cockerels share the same fate, a dinner plate.

If the feed store idea is a bust, it’s time to re-home the roo. Ask  friends who might live in a more rural area. The almighty Craig’s List has come through for me time and time again. Last year I had six roosters to re-home, and they all sold for $5 bucks each.  Just keep in mind, cock fighting does exist, so weed out the riff raff and dust off your good judge of character skills.

Beat the Odds of the Chicken Lottery

There is a solution to that 1% margin of error when buying sexed chicks.  If you want to be assured you’ll never get stuck with a rooster again, buy sex-linked chicks.  They’re idiot proof in the sexing department because the hens hatch one color and the roosters another.  They’re hardy, and I wouldn’t be surprise if they wrote the book on egg laying.

Sex Link Chickens

Two common varieties are the black sex-link (also called Black Stars) and the red sex-link (also called Red Stars).

 

Picked On, Pecked On Chicks. Why and What To Do?

Let’s start at the beginning with chicks in the brooder. Chicks don’t just peck each other for lack of something to do. There is an underlying problem causing them stress and/or aggravation. As any living creature, the first and foremost necessity for well being is comfort.

Providing chick starter crumbles and fresh water is a given, so we can certainly rule out hunger as the stress factor. It is my opinion there are two other very important factors to consider. Living environment and lighting, with significant emphasis on the latter. Overcrowding may or may not be the culprit in their acquired pecking behavior. However, if ample space is not provided away from a heat source, comfort is indeed compromised.

Always provide more than one feeder so weaker birds are not bullied. It only takes one drop of blood for the pecking disaster to begin, remember chickens are in fact cannibals. Also, by week 3, keep them busy with offerings of green grass, especially when you witness aggression.

 

Now let’s get to the nitty gritty of the pecking problem. Lighting, lighting, lighting! A brooder lamp is necessary for warmth but it shouldn’t be a blast of blinding light. Especially if you have the chicks in a small brooder and there’s no way to escape the annoyance.

I’m not at all a fan of the clear white bulbs and switched a long time ago to RED. They provide a calming environment, and as a bonus any minor pecking that’s caused an injury is better disguised under a red lamp.

You may want to make the switch from heat lamps altogether and switch to radiant heat from a Brinsea brooder. This will solve your fluctuating temperature problem, and providing you have a good number of chicks, it will be sufficient in keeping them warm.

Note: If it’s brutal cold… you can supplement with a low wattage red heat lamp. Low wattage heat bulbs are sold for reptiles, I usually use a 50, 100, or 250 watt, depending on how cold it is.

For injuries, no matter how slight, I use a product called Blu-Kote. It has healing agents and the purple dye in the treatment hides the battle wounds. You’ll find this product at your local feed store.

I’m convinced that happy and content chickens start in the brooder. It’s easy to tell if the brooder has comfort zones. You should see some birds huddled together under the heat source, some resting alone, some scratching in the litter, and some eating. Watch your chicks, their behavior says it all!