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Solutions for a pecker

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by SprigOfTheLivingDead, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. Aug 10, 2019
    SprigOfTheLivingDead

    SprigOfTheLivingDead Lovin' The Homestead

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    We have 13 chickens that are currently laying and another 10 that will be soon. Of those 13 we only get about 3-4 eggs a day because some asshat of a cluckler has gotten a taste for pecking the eggs in the past few months :(

    We tried some ceramic eggs to help, but that hasn't done anything and we're pretty annoyed at this point since we thought we'd curb the action with those.

    So, what have you done to curb this? Or how have you found out the culprit for your peckers? My next thought is to literally buy a game camera to put in the coop.

    At some point here we're having chicken stew.
     
  2. Aug 10, 2019
    milkmansdaughter

    milkmansdaughter Super Self-Sufficient

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    Hi @SprigOfTheLivingDead . Are your chickens kept in a coop or are they free ranged? How much room do they have, and do they have free access to food? Is it possible that a rat or other predator could be getting to your eggs?
    I've had this issue in the past, but when I asked, I was told that it is probably just a phase. It has always self-corrected without any intervention on our part. Ours are free ranged, and in the summer, only get fed in the evenings. They have lots of fresh clean water. For the most part, they are on fermented feed. I rarely suppliment with calcium or anything like that as it hasn't seemed to be needed, but I know many people do. I occasionally throw out some black oil sunflower seeds, especially if I need them all together for some reason.

    I'm no expert, but this has always been a temporary thing here. I'll be interested in other people's experiences. If I DID find the culprit, I would also consider stew as long as it really was a chicken!:lol:
     
    SprigOfTheLivingDead likes this.
  3. Aug 10, 2019
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Wait a couple of weeks. That's the only true solution. It's the time of year that egg shells thin down due to nutrition going more towards feather growth, so eggs get damaged in the nest and are promptly cleaned up.

    It's a desirable thing, really, and an instinct that is built in to keep predators from scenting the nests.

    Oh, you'll get all kinds of advice on adding calcium, protein or whatever to the diet, but that's not going to change the outcome. A couple of times a year~when chickens are coming into lay and then going out of lay~shells thin down, eggs get eaten because they are cracked or broken altogether as hens get in and out of the nests....and threads like this one are born.

    Folks will tell you to kill the "egg eater" as she will never stop...this isn't true. ALL chickens are egg eaters and will opportunistically consume eggs that have broken in the nest, so you don't have AN egg eater, you have a whole flock of them.

    Been keeping chickens for over 40 yrs now and never had a dedicated egg eater that will peck open normal eggs and consume them. But, twice a year, just like everyone else I'll collect eggs that have yolk on them, which means an egg was broken and consumed in that nest.

    It's molting season....you'll get thin shells, weird shells, eggs without shells, etc. Eggs will be eaten and, finally, shells will firm up and like magic your egg eater will have disappeared.

    The solution? Wait and be patient.

    On another note: If you have old birds that need culling due to age induced weak shell glands or lack of steady laying, fall is the time to cull these birds~but spring is the time to mark them for culling. A lot of birds aren't laying in the fall due to molt, so it's the wrong time to evaluate their yearly production.
     
  4. Aug 10, 2019
    Lazy Gardener

    Lazy Gardener Super Self-Sufficient

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    Both of above posters nailed it. I really don't have any wisdom to add... but... several comments...

    Are your birds shut into a bare soil run? I think that not having lots of range options, including lots of growing vegetation can contribute to the problem. (both from a nutritional and behavioral stand point.) If hens are shut into coop and run all day, they have little else to entertain themselves aside from being overly interested in what's going on in the nest box. If they are in a coop/run situation, have you converted to composting litter in both locations? Even this will increase the flock's nutritional intake, gut flora, immunity, and viability.

    Agreed with Bee's last paragraph. Unless you have a hen who consistently lays a problem egg, just wait it out. Culling older hens, who's shell glands are likely to be giving up their function is one very good reason to continually renew the flock. If you have a few hens in your flock who are in their second or third year of lay, and their eggs are consistently of good quality, and they are producing well... THOSE are the genetics you want to breed forward. Don't neglect to save a son from such a hen for your future flock master.

    Like Bee and MMD, I ferment my feed. (increases beneficial flora in the gut, increased villi length, fermentation process results in increase of B vitamins, Vitamin K, Methionine, decreases antinutrients and increases bioavailability of nutrients in the feed.) I have been doing so for about 7 years now. Would not go back to dry feed... even given the difficulty of serving up wet feed during the winter when my low temps are often sub zero.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  5. Aug 11, 2019
    SprigOfTheLivingDead

    SprigOfTheLivingDead Lovin' The Homestead

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    Thanks, everyone.

    The layers are just over a year old, so there aren't any "old gals" quite yet. They are not free ranged this year. Last year we let them roam but chickens do as chickens do and the wrecked all my gardening and lanscaping. We're actually working right now on fencing in a very large area around their current coops and run to let them range again.

    No predators have gotten in that we know of. Coyotes are common, and certainly inspect our security, but have never gotten in ;)

    This has been going on for about four months, so it's real annoying

    20190811_075720.jpg
     
    Marianne likes this.
  6. Aug 11, 2019
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Are you just missing eggs or are you seeing yolk on the eggs? If you are just missing eggs, I can tell you that a couple of black snakes were cleaning me out this season...just killed the second one yesterday.

    They were consuming anywhere from 6-9 eggs per day between them. For a few months I'd notice a nest would have eggs in it, then later in the day all the eggs in that nest would be missing. I was thinking rats or snakes, maybe even a possum(my dog has let those slip into the coop before as he's not too prey driven)....but the other day found a snake in a nesting site, big 5.5 ft. black snake. Killed it.

    Found another at another nest site, but it got away. Yesterday I found it and killed it.

    Egg counts have dramatically increased. :rolleyes:
     
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  7. Aug 11, 2019
    SprigOfTheLivingDead

    SprigOfTheLivingDead Lovin' The Homestead

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    Wow!!! No, with us I am finding 5 or 6 eggs with broken holes in the sides or completely broken apart, like someone pecked it apart
     
  8. Aug 11, 2019
    Lazy Gardener

    Lazy Gardener Super Self-Sufficient

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    Can you show us a pic of the next egg with the hole in the side? A nice crisp close up?

    Do you have plenty of litter in the nest boxes? I use coarse hay, and stuff the boxes full. What are the dimensions of your boxes, including height? How many boxes for how many hens? Is there a perch in front of the boxes so the birds can step into the box from the perch? (unless the boxes are at floor level) Are the boxes very open on front and tops? Or a bit more closed in?

    What is the shell quality like? Easy to break an egg open into the fry pan?

    What breeds?

    Are you giving them access to feed 24/7? Or feeding them their daily ration? Layer pellets? Giving them any scratch grains? If so, how much?

    What time of the day are you finding these broken eggs? I assume you work full time? So are not able to gather eggs during the day? When you are home, perhaps during the weekend, and perhaps can gather eggs throughout the day, are you still seeing broken eggs?

    Notice any hen(s) who seem to just be loitering in front of the boxes?
     
  9. Aug 12, 2019
    Chic Rustler

    Chic Rustler Super Self-Sufficient

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    Someone told me once to poke a couple holes in a couple eggs and blow out the contents. Then fill with mustard. They said that would curb the egg pecking. Idk never tried it
     
  10. Aug 12, 2019
    Lazy Gardener

    Lazy Gardener Super Self-Sufficient

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    I think you'd be wasting some good mustard.
     

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