Pioneer Woman at Heart

One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Egg Eating Chicken

A few weeks back, I noticed our egg production down, and wondered what was up.

While I was in the barn awaiting Misty's birth (goat), a few chickens got back into the barn into the coop.  I heard some loud squawks and looked over.  Lo' and behold, the no-name black araucana was chasing a barred rock around.  Then I saw her bully two barred rocks from the roosts, and put her head into the roost.  

I was certain I had my very first case of an egg eating chicken.  I put her in the emergency (just a small spare one for sick/injured chickens) coop for over a week.  I noticed egg shells in her coop on some days and others not one egg.  While in the other coop, I would get 11 or more eggs.  

I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, and keep her from the stew pot, to see if she'd stop eating the eggs.

You can blow out an egg for this trick, but I simply took an egg from breakfast, and filled it with mustard.  I gently pressed the two eggs shells together, to look like the egg again.  I read that chickens hate mustard, and this would eventually stop her from eating them.

We did this every day for a week.  I continued to keep her separated (just plain luck that I found which one was doing it).

I also put some treats in each coop to keep boredom at bay, during the night and early morning, before I let them out.

The results? The first day, she attacked the egg with madness, but left half of it.  I left it in there, and she ate it.  So I wondered if I had a chicken that liked mustard?  

Day 2, I put another egg in her coop, also filled with mustard.  She ate all of it.

She continued to eat the entire egg for a few more days, and after that started leaving portions.  However, in that time, she did not lay an egg.  Or she was, and she continued to eat them before I got to the coop early morning.

I then placed two golf balls in the coop as and continued to offer her treats, protein, and mustard filled eggs.  

As of today, I have not gotten one egg from her since I have isolated her. I still let her out with the others, but put her back in her own coop at night.

Her demise?  She's heading for the stew pot, unless anyone has any other ideas.


Mama Pea said...

I'm kind of amazed that hen is eating so much mustard? (Has she ever put in a request for some bologna to go with it?)

Reminds me of the time we had a nuisance bear and were told by the old-timers around here to leave out sandwiches laced heavily with Tabasco Sauce between the two slices of bread. "Our" bear turned out to be the only one in the county that loved Tabasco sandwiches! Ole!

Kristina said...

Mama Pea, ha ha! I have thought of putting hot sauce in the egg with the mustard. I've watched her wipe her beak in the straw after eating the egg, but she goes right back after it again.

Sandra said...

Aw, that stinks! Sounds like you did what you could to help her with her problem.

Carolyn said...

I'm pretty sure that birds can't taste hot stuff.

I've never been able to "cure" and egg eating chicken, and although I didn't go to as extreme lengths you did to try and "save" yours, I did try. I just think, like any other animal, that once a chicken finds out how incredibly delicious eggs are, they can't go back.

Let us know how the soup / stew is though :)

Susan said...

That is amazing. I had an egg-eater this winter (first time ever) and just lucked out and caught her in the act. I chalked it up to boredom, as this winter was the worst ever and they were confined an awful lot. Once the weather warmed up and there was more space to explore, she quit. But she has only laid two eggs this spring. She has two months of reprieve and then she is shipped off with the meat chickens. Yours seems to really have a taste for eggs (mustard and all). I think the stew pot is the only solution...

Kristina said...

Sandra, she has had many treats to keep her from being bored on cold nights, so I'm afraid she's getting stewed.

Kristina said...

Carolyn, that is good to know (can't taste hot stuff). She goes bananas on those mustard eggs - crazy!

Kristina said...

Susan, I thought it was boredom too. She got a half of a cabbage all to herself, and wasn't interested much in that.

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

I'm having the same problem!
I believe it's my old hen-- one of the first ones I got. I don't think she is laying anymore. I'm kind of sad about it...
I honestly don't think I can bring myself to 'stew' her.
I've lost my GRIT!

Kristina said...

Patricia, I've tried everything, but we continue to isolate her. We may be making a decision soon.

Lady Jane said...

I don't know a lot about chickens. Except I love the eggs. I had heard of you know what eating dogs but never egg eating chickens. Hate to put her in the pot but that is where she may have to go.

Kristina said...

Lady Jane, I'm sure the kids will have a fit if we stew her ourselves, so I may give her to extended family, who has butchered chickens before.

RB said...

From what I've researched online, you did exactly the right thing by separating her. One egg eating chicken can become many if the others get the "taste" of it too.

I found these websites online, but it sounds like you've done all this already.

To me, it sounds like she might possibly be lacking some vitamin or mineral. Please try giving her solid cat food for a few days. (It's packed with protein like eggs are, so if that's what she's lacking, maybe it will stop the egg eating.)

Also, I think I'd put quite a few golf balls (10-12 even) in the nest. Maybe she'll have difficulty telling those from her eggs, and pecking on those with no success might have her give up on pecking and breaking the eggs too.

Plastic Easter eggs might work too. If she pecks open enough of those only to find them empty, maybe she'll give up on the real ones too.

And, of course, step up gathering the eggs, trying to get to them before she does.

Good luck.

God bless.


Kristina said...

Thanks for all the tips RB.