Over the last few weeks, I’ve been finding broken eggs in The Girls’ nesting box. A broken egg now and then is not unusual, but I was getting one almost every day. Chickens are omnivores and will happily eat the inside of an egg that’s been cracked, but they generally avoid breaking the eggs themselves (natural selection is a wonderful thing!) Sometimes, however, one of them discovers that a quick peck at the egg leads to the delicious contents inside, and then you have a problem.
I am pretty lenient about my chickens’ performance. Pretty Chicken hasn’t laid an egg in almost 6 months, yet I still keep her around. However, egg breaking is not an acceptable behavior in my coop. The hunt for the culprit was on.
To find out whodunit, I constructed the Solitary Confinement Pen. Suspects would go in one by one and stay until an egg was produced. Guilt or innocence would be proved by the state of the egg.
First one in was Twister. Now, she is probably my favorite bird. She is gentle, lets herself be caught without any drama, and lays well. But her eggs were the ones I was finding broken most often, so she was the Most Obvious Suspect.
Next day, a perfectly intact Twister egg was in the pen. Interestingly, the nesting box in the coop had no broken eggs either. The plot thickens!
Taking the egg as proof of Twister’s innocence, I let her back out to join the others in the coop. My next suspect was Nekkid. Now, I admit, this was a bit of a case of chicken profiling. Nekkid is a mean bird. Nekkid is greedy. Nekkid beats up other birds, steals their food, and then beats them up some more. So it was reasonable to assume that she could be the one eating eggs. So, in solitary with Nekkid.
Several days passed with no results. Not a trace of egg or eggshell in the pen, but also no broken eggs in the coop. Not enough information for a guilty verdict, but also no proof of innocence. In fact, I thought Nekkid stopped laying from the stress of being separated from the flock. I even felt a little bad. And then…
I woke up early enough to see a partially eaten egg in the pen. The inside was already gone. Over the next hour I watched as Nekkid decimated the eggshell and ate every last piece. No wonder I wasn’t finding any of her eggs, she was eating them completely!
So, the criminal was identified and in custody. What to do now? Nekkid is going to go through a rigorous reeducation program. Apparently, taking an egg shell and filling it with mustard can stop a chicken from pecking its own eggs. I am curious if that actually works. Because if it doesn’t there’s only one way to go from there.