Hens Eating Their Own Eggs – Part Two

Hens Eating Their Own Eggs – Part Two

My hens are no longer eating their own eggs.   In the previous post on Hens Eating Their Eggs Again I outlined the steps I would take to prevent this carnivorous practice that my hens began to engage in.  It started after I had to lock them into the chicken area in the back during the growing season to keep them out of my vegetables and flowers beds.  So what have I discovered?

What I have found works the best for me is….. drum roll….  Gather the eggs early enough in the day before the hens become interested in them!  This one step will prevent 99% of the eggs from being cracked open and eaten.  This solution, however, works for me only because I don’t go to work until later in the day, and I have the time to go out to the coop a couple times before noon.   Unfortunately, this solution wouldn’t work for people who have to leave for work in the morning.   I know that some nesting beds can be designed to allow the eggs to tumble down into a protected area that the hens can’t access, but if you don’t have that particular design in your nesting beds, then what do you do?  Maybe try the hot mustard method and add a few wooden eggs to the beds?

For me the addition of the wooden eggs and golf balls didn’t help.  The hens still managed to tell them apart and pecked at their own eggs anyway.  Another thing I am doing in the morning is giving the chickens some vegetation from my garden to distract them and give them more nutrition now that the grass is so dry.  They love leaves from cabbage, kale, chard, lettuce, Brussels sprouts and anything juicy.  Other favorites are cucumbers, over sized zucchini,  melons, and really just anything they can peck at easily.  For a while there I was feeding them the sweet peas straight out of the pods, and they definitely love me for those treats!  They also love the blackberries growing in their area, but it sure does make their poop black, and I am hoping that the seeds in the poop don’t germinate into new blackberries throughout the yard.

After going through this experience, I have come to understand my chickens better.  As I previously suspected, they were going back up into the hens house nesting beds to peck at their eggs not because they needed more to eat, or more calcium in their diet, but because they had nothing better to do.  When they were allowed to wander around the entire backyard, they would lay their eggs and then they couldn’t wait to get out to continue foraging for worms and bugs.  The smaller area just simply doesn’t provide enough worms, bugs and variety.  I feel bad for my hens that they have to be in jail during the growing season, but such is the life for urban chickens.  Once they get to go out into the larger yard again, they’ll quickly forget.

In the meantime, they are taunted by the younger hens who still get to wander around the larger yard.  Two hens seem to be the perfect number of chickens to allow in my yard without risking destruction to my vegetable and flower beds.   I probably won’t be clipping their wings as long as they can continue to jump over the fence and get back into their coop in the evenings.    Since the new hens are still being somewhat rejected and bullied by the older hens, I feel like they deserve the advantage of freedom to wander around my yard.

One thing for sure, I don’t want my older hens passing on bad habits to the younger ones.   I’m still wondering how it will go when the new hens start to lay their own eggs which will probably be sometime in late September.   Will the older hens respect their right to sit in the boxes?  If they continue to crack open eggs when they get the chance, will the new hens also start doing it?  It’s another observation waiting to be made in the life and times of urban chickens.

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