Egg-Eater Blues

by Daisy on 05/15/2014

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About a week or two ago, the daily egg count began to take a dive.

I might collect five or six eggs one day, next to none the next day. A couple of days I literally collected no eggs.

Some days several, some days one or two. I found a couple of half eaten eggs and some scattered shells here and there.

It all pointed to one thing: we had an egg-eating chicken. Maybe more than one.

So I started hanging out in the coop, you know, catching up on the latest gossip, scooping the latest poop. It’s been raining a lot, too, so I even got stranded in the coop during a downpour and decided to stay and watch the chicken dynamics.

My observations all pointed to one thing, rather, one chicken: Barney


Barney is a Barnevelder we hatched from an egg. She is a beautiful bird, the only one of her breed in our flock. Like most “onlys” in my experience, she’s a bit of an outsider, but usually seemed to get along pretty well with the others.

I don’t know how she discovered she could eat eggs, but it probably started with an accidental broken egg. And since that was DELICIOUS, she started making them crack deliberately, pushing them around, making them crack into each other, knocking them out of the nest box onto the floor, etc. Smart, yes. Too smart? Yes, too smart for my liking.

My first response was to stand in the coop on and off all one day to keep her out of the coop once she’d laid her egg and I’d collected it. Every time another hen would go in to lay an egg, she’d fuss all around her, waiting impatiently to get the egg, even getting into the nest box WITH the laying hen, practically sitting on her.

So I started running her out, over and over. I’d toss her out into the run. She’d pretend to walk around scratching for a couple of minutes, then sneak back up the ladder to the coop. I’d hide while she poked her head in, then when she thought the coast was clear, I’d pop out and shoo her back down the ladder.

Before you suggest I get a hobby, let me remind you this IS my hobby. I am a hobbyist chicken pesterer.

My second response, because pestering chickens, wouldn’t you know it, gets old after a while, was to put together a separate enclosure within the chicken run made out of chicken-wire panels I already had on hand. I put Barney in there with her own food and water and went into the house.  My house, not the chicken house, for a change of pace.

When I went out a few minutes later she was back in with the general population, eyeballing me suspiciously, but with a glint of self-satisfaction in her eye.  She’d flown over the top, apparently.

Today, after spending too much time monitoring the nest boxes, and STILL catching her literally with shell on her beak as soon as I let my guard down, I am now on my third response.

Chicken Time Out.


It may be humiliating, but she has water, feed, snacks, and proximity to the other hens. I can move her jail around to fresh ground like a chicken tractor and I’ll put her back in after the others finish laying, but for now we’re trying this.

It’s better than the soup pot.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Tijssen May 16, 2014 at 4:11 am

I hope our coming Barnevelders will be easier to live with… One of our three hens got broody and I put 10 Barnevelder eggs under her. Hopefully next week we will have chickens. And which breed they are, always they will be Barnevelders, because we live in Barneveld. And if you ever will visit the area, don’t forget the local chicken museum!

Daisy May 16, 2014 at 4:26 am

Heidi Tijssen–Oh my goodness! Real Barnevelders! Barney will be very impressed that I heard from you. She is a good girl, she just has a little problem, and apparently a big appetite. May you have a very successful hatch.
I would never miss the chicken museum!

Jenni May 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Please don’t put her in the pot – she’s far too smart!! (and beautiful)

Amber Pixie May 16, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I’ve successfully “broken” an egg-eater by putting golf balls or wooden eggs painted white into nests…once they peck those enough, they get the idea…*grin*

Best of luck!

Daisy May 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Amber Pixie–We do have 4 fake eggs that I put in there once this started. I hope it will help with the issue. I guess I need a whole pile of them so they get tired of testing to see which is the real egg. Thanks!

Daisy May 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Jenni–She’s safe. In the doghouse, but not in mortal peril.

Penny May 17, 2014 at 7:09 am

Sometimes the particular hen requires more protein in her diet. My chicken friends told me to put a handful of dry cat food in for the offending hen. Also be certain she has enough crushed oyster shell so she makes good strong egg shells.

Barbara May 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

You could go out after the hens are on the roost one evening and trim about 2 inches of the tips off her wing on one side. She can’t get elevation that way and won’t be able to fly. I’ve done this with my hens for years.

Angela Bergeron May 17, 2014 at 8:50 am

I’m just saying if she’s eating even her own eggs she’s kind of outliving her own purpose. I wouldn’t judge you for making soup… I’m not very experienced with chickens, but I hear that they learn quickly from each other, so I would happily put her in the stock pot to keep Tue others from learning from her if you can’t break it. Once again another article.

Olivia May 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm

My granny told me that once an egg eater, always an egg eater. However, the wooden egg thing sounds like it might work.
Chicken and dumplings will cure her and makes a great Sunday dinner

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