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#77585 - 12/26/04 03:12 PM Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
I've just found your site this morning and have been avidly reading as many posts as I can! This seems like a great forum--lots of fast responses. I have already learned alot! In fact, I let my girls out today for the first time from their coop, thinking it might solve my problem. (And they all came back in, except two--had to "hunt them down"....)

OK--problem--they starting laying at the right time, and for a few weeks, I was getting lots of eggs. Then the girls killed my rooster, and another of my pullets. From that point on, "someone" has been cannablizing the eggs. I collect several times a day. Or at least try to. What to do?
I think from some of your posts, I need to see who the most agressive hen(s) is/are. I need to buy some oyster shells (they have lots of grit), but maybe they are too "bored?" I have 21 hens in a coop 10x10. I was told that wasn't too many, but I'm beginning to wonder.
Thanks for your help.

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#77586 - 12/26/04 04:02 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Bill Ludwig Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 2582
Loc: Ohio
Hello Louisa

Welcome to the Coop. You said you have been reading many past posts. Thatís a great way to start! If you haven't found it already, there is a search button at the top right of page. You can search all forums for "egg eater". Another tip is, you can change the "show topics from past 45 days" to show all topics in order to view more.

Oyster shell is not likely to help but is a good practice. A couple things that help more than others are; put golf balls or wooden eggs in the nests. They will peck at them and get discouraged. Hang cloth over the nests so the eggs are not visible from outside the boxes. If you can catch the evil doer, separate her or them.
21 birds in a 10x10 is crowded. Some books suggest only 4 square foot minimum per bird but that number is concerned more with manure and litter management than it is with content birds. Most members will tell you that 6 foot is minimum and 8 is much better.
If you can find the aggressive ones, thatís where to start thinning the flock. Good luck!

Bill

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#77587 - 12/26/04 04:28 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
Thank you, Bill.
I will do as you suggested. Didn't think about older posts.
I like the idea of wooded eggs/golf balls. It will be hard to get rid of some of the girls, but it did seem too crowded to me.
Thanks again.

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#77588 - 12/26/04 11:06 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Greetings-
I will echo Bill's response: Welcome to The Classroom; good for you for 'searching' first, asking questions later; and your coop's too small.

What breed(s) are your girls?
AND is it possible that whatever 'offed' your rooster etc and has been taking eggs is not a chick?
Just something to think about.

Good cLuck!

TC

cool

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#77589 - 12/27/04 05:32 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
No, girls were caught in the act of attacking the rooster. My BIL rescued him, I took him to DH, who is a vet, but he died anyway. Too shocky. (This would make a good story, if it wasn't so sad!)

And I've caught hens in the act of breaking eggs. I think it's my black hens, and I don't know what kind they are. We bought a mixture as dibs, so I'm having to try to figure out what kind they are from internet pics. I think the blacks are Australorps. They are the most "distant" (not affectionate) of my crew, and seem to be the most aggressive. The hen that was killed was a white/black feathered-
footed beauty. I have two of those left, and one had it's head picked the other day.
I have opened the door to the coop again this morning. Since coop is too small for all the girls, would daily freedom be OK, or do I still need to get rid of some?
And I have never killed anything I've talked to, so I don't know if eating one, two, or three is possible for me. ('Course, I could have DH do the dastardly deed...)
Louisa

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#77590 - 12/27/04 05:53 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Being 'out' on a regular basis should make for a happier flock, but when weather conditions etc prohibit, you may find that things go bad.
Do they have plenty and separate roost space?
If the black ones are making life difficult, perhaps you should consider finding them new homes or.....recipes.

TC
cool

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#77591 - 12/27/04 10:52 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


I had some experiences like yours with my first flock. I followed the 4 sq ft per bird rule. Not good! I now have almost 9 per bird and they're much happier and trouble free.

I had egg-eaters last winter, who also became feather pickers. I believe it's all related to winter boredom and crowding. Fix those things and they'll do better... however, you will still have to remove the culprits. Sooner is better than later, as the evil-doers will teach the others their nasty tricks.

My flock was bad enough after a long winter, that I started over with new chicks this spring and butchered the old hens for soup this fall (when the newbies started to lay).

You can get away with small coops, if you can let them range each day. I did that all summer as I have a very small coop, but have compensated them this for this winter by building a large covered run. They cannot range here in the winter (to much snow) and the run was a good idea for next spring / summer, too. Letting 23 birds out all day puts too much poop-up the lawn for the kids to use... now they can exercise in the run for most of the day and then be let out each evening for some grass and true freedom.

The covered run I built effectively triples the coop space and allowed me to expand the size of my flock a little and has (SO FAR) prevented the feather picking and egg eating problems of last year.

An easy way to find your egg eater is to look closely at their beak, combs and wattles. You'll find dried yolk on the culprits... the good girls will be clean. I had to remove 4 egg-eaters last year. That was before I had the run. The increase is space (absence of 4 birds) seemed to prevent the rest of the girls from picking up the egg-eating habit, but they later developed an incurable feather picking habit that lead me to replace an otherwise productive flock...

It's all about space!!!

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#77592 - 12/27/04 10:55 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Oh yeah, I meant to say that my first hens killed their roo, too. Upset me something terrible. He was an incredbile, big rooster who's genes I would very much have like to pass on to other birds... especially for broilers. I think my wife put the hens up to it... she hated his crowing.

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#77593 - 12/27/04 11:36 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
J,
Thanks for your very informative post! The more I read from you all and research, I am "mad" that the hatchery gave bad info! I know they want to sell birds, but it reflects back on them! I just got back from buying oyster shell. I got 4 eggs this morning, so I am seeing an improvement.
It's going to be hard for me to get to the slaughtering stage.....
Louisa

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#77594 - 12/27/04 12:06 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
Just thought of a "dumb" question--how do you round up all the chickens to lock them up? I had all but two go into the coop last night. But I had a time of it getting the last one in. do you just let them fend for themselves if they don't make the curfew?
Louisa

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#77595 - 12/27/04 12:45 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


It's not the hatcheries fault, entirely. The 4 sq ft thing seems to be a widely accepted rule of thumb among poultry growers... I got my numbers out of Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, which otherwise has been a fabulous 'bird growers bible.' And in every case, it's always a 'mimimum' recommendation... kinda misleading. And as Bill suggests, has more to do with poop and litter management than the social antics of our feathered freinds.

As for herding chickens, it is a lot like herding cats.

Do you give them scratch grains or any other kind of treat?

My birds get table scraps mopst daysand a little grain at bed time each night. As such, they see me as the 'provider' and usually come running when I am outside. If I need them in back their coop for some reason, I can throw a handful of grain in there, and they'll all head back in...

Occassionally, I have to catch just one, in which case I use the wire hook method... You probably know it, but a coat hanger straightened and then bent at one end, into a short V-shaped hook. You have to get the bend tight, so it may take some crimping with a pair of pliers. Anyway, secure that to a broom handle or something similar and you can sneak up behind the bird and 'hook' their leg, around the ankle. If the bend is right, it snags then really well. If the bend is too loose, they can get away.

However, I have never had a bird that wouldn't return to the coop at dark... you must have a few brave ones in your flock.

If you cannot slaughter your egg-eaters, at least separate them. Problems like egg-eating and feather picking are terribly contageous among the flock.

Oh yeah, the golf ball or wooden egg thing is probably the most logical and proven solution, other than space management, for preventing egg-eaters... But as you'll read, there are dozens of other tales and recipes for fixing the problem... my personal favorite, though I have never tried it, is the one where you blow out the contents of an egg and fill it with hot sauce... I kinda doubt this one... my birds eat jalapenos and other hot stuff without batting an eye. I once made a batch of chili way too hot for my wife and kids to eat so I gave bunch of it to the birds and they scarfed it up, happily.

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#77596 - 12/27/04 01:12 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Bill Ludwig Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 2582
Loc: Ohio
J, you are correct that "hot" does not affect chickens or any of the other stuff people have put in eggs.

Louisa, if culling your birds just isn't in you, you might try selling them. Put up a sign at the feed store. Something all hatcheries should tell people though is that sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where you will need to put down one of your flock. I don't mean to be harsh but it may be best to get over that hump now. You may find your self with an injured or sick bird that is suffering and need to be able to it. Sorry, I am not trying to take the fun and joy out of having chickens but reality will sneak up and kick you when you least expect it. J's suggestion of bringing them in with a little grain is good. I assume they are eating a layer ration for their main feed.

Bill

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#77597 - 12/27/04 05:07 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Weezie,
Big welcomes from me too!!
I can't remember who posted it (I guess I should do a search shocked laugh ) LOL, but it was about putting heads of cabbage in the coops to give the chickens something to peck at instead of each other. If I was gonna do that I would hang them on a wire beside the wall so it would move some but be easy enough to peck. Also, i, and others, feed alfalfa hay to the hens for winter greens. They love the little leaves.
Too bad you are so far away. I know folks who would buy your extras in a heartbeat!!
Sally

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#77598 - 12/27/04 05:46 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
I love this board!
You are all so friendly and helpful!!
The girls went into the coop with much less coaxing tonight. I didn't have to bring out the big fishnet.
I have found out that there is a small animal sale a few towns away, so I will check that out to thin out the flock. Also need to add more roost space. And big news flash here:
I got 6 eggs today!!
Feeding table scraps has really been interesting...never would have thunk it--how the mashed potatoes, gravy, and ham scraps are delectible tidbits!!
(I have been wanting chickens forever, and my DH finally gave me this coop and dibs for my birthday. So this is really fun...or it has potential....!)
Louisa

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#77599 - 12/28/04 08:20 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


How old are your birds? And, are you giving them any additional lighting? 6 eggs is probably normal if they're on natural light right now... at least based upon my first winter on natural light. I had 14 birds producing only 3 or 4 eggs a day, at best.

I now give my flock 5 hours of supplimental lighting during the evening (winter only) and production is around 16 eggs a day.

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#77600 - 12/28/04 04:56 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
My 21 birds are almost 5 months.
I keep the red heat light on all the time. Is that not good? It doesn't usually get that cold here in NC, but the last few nights we've had 20's at night. (I know some of you are laughing--but it's cold for us!! )
Louisa

And I can't find info on what layer feed is....??

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#77601 - 12/28/04 07:17 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Chook Hilton Offline
Chicken

Registered: 09/19/04
Posts: 109
Loc: Australia
No need to battle to round up the birds every evening - I've found they will come into the coop themselves if you keep them a little on the hungry side (ie remove any constant food source during the day, so they free-range only) & when you want to put them to bed, feed them treats scattered inside the coop & shut the door behind them.
_________________________
Chook Hilton

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#77602 - 12/29/04 08:36 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Lots of opinions on heat and lighting for birds. Do whatever feels right for you and our birds, but here's a few things I have picked up from the Coop and other literature I have read.

Standard breed, normal feathered birds (ie, not frizzles and not silkies), but birds with normal feathers, can withstand really cold temps without supplimental heat. All birds, chickens, sparrows, etc. produce enormous amounts of body heat from their rapid metabolism (it's a reguirement of flight - even though chickens don't fly so well). As such, as long as they can escape damp conditions and windy conditions, their feathers and normal body heat will keep them warm in very cold temperatures.

Egg production is dependent upon length of daylight (or artificial light). 15 hours of light, per day, is generally used by many year-round egg producers, by adding articial light at either end of the day (morning, evening or both).

Intensity of light is important if adding extra artificial light. low wattage can be ineffective, high wattage can cause problems. red lights are supposed to help prevent feather picking and other cannabalism problems, too.

I use an energy saver bulb that produces the light of a 60 watt bulb. This is in a 60 sq ft coop. I think a stronger light would be better, but am willing to see fewer eggs in return for a smaller energy bill... personal preference.

At five months, most of your birds are probably not yet laying. Most standard breeds come into production at around 22-26 weeks, and that's been my observation with 8 different breeds of standard sized bird (non-hybrids).

I do have a few production reds (a commercial hybrid) and they started laying at 17 weeks.

Having oyster shell is important for calcium intake, which they need for egg shell production. Some folks mix it into their feed, some leave it 'free choice' in a separate container. I do the free choice thing, but will occassionally mix it in their feed if I get a few thin shelled eggs

Another option for calcium, which gets some occassional exposure here on the Coop is Diatomacious Earth. It's quite the little miracle additive if you can find it in your area. A search on this site, and on the internet is worth your time.

Don't forget grit. If your soils don't have some good, hard, small pebbles in it, it's a good idea to give them some grit so their crops can grind up the grains and grasses they eat.

In Summary: If your coop is free of drafts, but ventilated well enough to prevent their respiration from making it humid, your local temperatures would not suggest the need for a heat lamp... Where I live, 20 degree is a heat wave. Single and negative digits are common and I use not heat lamp on my birds... as far as I can tell - they aren't complaining about the cold.

However, since your birds are acclimated to 24 hours of light per day, DO NOT simply unplug and remove the light. Birds will not do well under sudden, drastic changes like that. If you want to remove the light, do so gradually, maybe 15-30 minutes per week, at most, until you get them back on natural light... which would be around March, I suppose. At that time, you could let mother nature take over and they'll get ample light for good procution until about September. At that time, you can let production drop off a little, or start adding light to maintain a 15 hour day through the winter. Again, if you add light in the Fall, add it gradually, so that you slowly fool your birds into thinking they're in a perpetual summer.

A search on articial lighting, here on the coop, will provide you with several ideas and opinions on this management option...

Again, it's entirely up to you, but the cost of a heat lamp running 24/7 is considerable and may not be doing anything for your birds. Probably more for your peice of mind, really. Just make sure you don't go making big changes right away - it can have very negative results.

Sorry to all for the long post. I hope it helps, Weezie.

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#77603 - 12/29/04 05:36 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
J,
Long post was great! Again, thanks for the great information. Searching this site is very helpful, but sometimes you don't know exactly what you are supposed to be searching for. You've given me lots of search ideas!

The girls are loving their new free-range status and they are getting better about going into the coop. There are 2 or 3 that are slow learners, tho. And I have a funny chicken story about that....

I have been petting and cooing over them, so they "love" me, of course. But little did I know that when they hunker down and push their wing blades up that they are "assuming the position" for the rooster. My veterinarian husband burst my bubble with that information, when I told him how they were so docile and submissive when I was stroking them....

Anyway, tonight when I went to lock them up, there were the 2 that are coop-door-challenged. I tried to scoot them towards the door, but when I was not closer than 4 feet away, they just both dropped down into the "position"!! And didn't move--so I just picked 'em up and carried 'em into the coop!

I'm sure I didn't describe it as funny as it was, but you pros can use your imagination.....

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