My Hens Are Eating Their Eggs. What Can I Do To Stop Them?

First of all, this is a fairly common problem.

The habit most often starts when an egg breaks accidentally and the chickens start pecking at the broken egg.

It is necessary to stop the habit early, because if this goes on too long it will be nearly impossible to break. It could have started with a hen producing a soft shell egg which probably broke and that’s why she started to eat it.

Or it could have fallen on the floor and broke because of this.

The answer is to try and limit the chance of the egg breaking. To this end, you need to ensure there are sufficient nest boxes for the number of birds you have — ideally one nest box to maximum 4 birds- and make sure the box is well lined and protected.

Eggs should be collected regularly and removed from the nest. If an egg breaks, clear it up immediately to prevent them from getting a ‘taste’.

Your hens may need a calcium supplement to strengthen the shells but at least make sure there is plenty of oyster shell or similar calcium available to your hens at all times.

Some people recommend a dish with milk be made available for your hens over several days which will decrease the problem of egg eating (University of Florida Extention).

Another suggestion is to put artificial eggs (golf balls have been used!) in the nest so if a hen is deliberately trying to break up the eggs she will be in for a nasty surprise!

If there is one particular culprit and it continues, it might be necessary to separate this bird from the flock or even cull it.

Red Mites: Do this and You Won’t Have a Problem!

Red mites hide away in the dark corners of the chicken coop, emerging at night to feed on the blood of your poor unsuspecting chickens.

The level of irritation from a red mite infestation can cause broody hens to abandon their nests and pluck out their own feathers. Other symptoms include weight loss and a general loss of condition and lower egg yield.

Since they feed at night, they are notoriously difficult to spot during the daytime. Birds will be restless at night and will have a severe skin irritation from the biting mites. Red Mites are almost white before they feed, blood red after a feed and a greyish black colour with partially digested blood so you will see various colours of mites.

How to test for red mites: Simply wipe a white piece of kitchen towel or a white tissue along the underside of a perch in the dark. Any blood stains will indicate the presence of Red Mite!

Prevention is the easiest way to deal with mite. When you get started with keeping chickens more than likely you will have a new mite-free coop. Make sure to give this a real good dusting of red mite powder before you put your chickens in. Aim to leave a noticeable layer of the powder in the corners and cracks of the coop.

As soon as you can handle your hens comfortably, dust them too with mite powder, making sure to work the powder in under their feathers.

By doing this every 4 to 6 weeks, you greatly reduce the chances of red mite taking hold. To date we have never experienced a red mite problem because we follow this method.

If at a later stage you introduce a new bird to the flock make sure that they are very well dusted down with mite powder.

There is a whole host of products available to you. The main ingredient in these powders is D.E (Diatomaceous Earth) which is a 100% natural and non toxic powder that typically provides protection for up to 6 weeks with just one application.

Lice

The same applies to biting lice, which lay their eggs at the base of chicken’s feathers. Again, dust all your chickens with powder, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms or not, and give the hen house a really good layer too.

Will Chickens Lay Eggs Without A Rooster?

Yes they will. A hen will lay eggs whether a rooster is present or not.

In fact, there is very little reason to have a rooster around if you only keep a handful of chickens for eggs. We would advise against it unless you have more than 6 hens, then maybe there is more of a reason to have one. Obviously if you want baby chicks then you must have a rooster with your hens to fertilise their eggs.

Your hens will produce eggs hopefully on a regular basis and their production won’t increase or decrease because you have or don’t have a rooster about. So in the back garden, hobbyist world they serve little purpose!

Chicken Nesting Boxes: What You Should Know

Hens will always seek out dark, quiet and secluded places to lay their eggs. By providing suitable nesting boxes within the coop, you can provide your hens with their ideal laying environment, and a space where you know their eggs will be clean and protected – and easy to find!

Our traditionally designed wooden hen houses have the nesting boxes protruding from the side and easily accessible via a locking nesting box lid. This allows you to easily open it up and collect your eggs with minimal disturbance to the hen house as a whole.

You’ll find they don’t need much space to lay their eggs, quite often we find two hens squashed together inside one tiny compartment of the nesting box even though the other 2 areas are completely free! Up to three hens will share one nesting box happily, but if you have three hens, two boxes will give them more options.

Nest boxes should be lined with soft dry bedding material and raised from the ground. If the nesting boxes are positioned higher than the perches, what tends to happen is your hens will sleep in their nesting box because it’s the highest place.

This isn’t a problem as such but what you will find is they will foul their laying area (hens produce a large amount of their droppings at night) and then quite happily lay right on top of it! So if you want clean eggs, look for a coop which has the perches high up.

We have designed all our wooden coops so that the perches are either in line or higher than the bottom of the nesting box so there is less chance of this happening.