There have been a lot of talk about the cows lately and now the chickens are taking the spotlight.
We have a chicken eating the eggs in the nesting boxes. To the point that I am having to make several trips to the coop in the morning to collect eggs and even then, we loose a handful because they have been so damaged. My disturbing them more often can cause problems too. Mike caught Wilma doing it once and then a caught two others pecking. This tells me that it’s not just one broody bird. There is something more going on and I shouldn’t sharpen the ax just yet.
A few of the most common reasons chickens will peck and eat eggs are:
– Lacking something in their diet, commonly calcium, protein or vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause the birds to loose their feathers and poor feather regrowth as well as cannibalism.
–Lacking Clean Water can cause birds to peck open eggs to rehydrate.
– Winter boredom in the north can be a big problem as well. The birds were used to roaming around outside, pecking the ground, eating fresh greens and bugs. Winter came over night this year and did not give the girls any time to adjust to the cold or indoor living.
Just by looking at a couple common reasons, I have a starting point. I know they have clean water. I am out there every morning and my husband checks on them at night. We both make sure the water stays clean and full. It did freeze in the tray one night. From then on we have a light bulb in the cinder block the waterer sits on. This has prevented and further freezing.
The feed they are getting is a high quality layer feed that is made to order at the local feed store in town. It’s “real” feed, meaning I can see the chopped up grains that it is comprised of and it has oyster shells mixed in. However, I do find a lot of it wasted on the floor since the girls have been stuck inside. Also ever since Lucifer removed everyone’s tail feathers, most of them have grown back but there are a few birds that can’t seem to fill in their rear. The rooster included; poor guy still only has one mangy looking tail feather.
That being said, they may need some extra vitamin D, that, I can put in their feed by means of Cod Liver Oil. Mike had been eyeing the scratch blocks at the farm and feed store for a while. He was pretty excited to pick one of those up. That will serve more than one purpose too. The block has extra protein for the birds and provides some entertainment. I have been working on making something of the sort in which I have added crushed eggs shells for added calcium. That project will be shared later. They have also been given a separate container for oyster shells. This way they can get what they need without it settling in the feed or falling to the floor uneaten.
Then the winter boredom I’m sure is a factor as well. We have a very bold and rowdy bunch of birds; more so than any bunch I’ve ever had. The Wyandotte’s especially do not like to spend nearly this much time inside. I don’t have time to go out and play chicken Bingo everyday so for now the scratch block will do. It’s always got a crowd around it. I have also seen people have hung a head of lettuce for the birds to peck at and play tether ball with. I might hang a head of cabbage when the block quiets down.
That’s where we are starting. After a week or so I will reevaluate and go from there.