On no, as a farmer I can tell you when you feed your hens sacks and sacks of feed and watch your egg production start sinking, you think, mmmmm I have a snake that is an egg eater, an opposum or perhaps a raccoon, a rat or there is a broody mother who snuck the eggs away, oh let's add calcium, let's bring more protein treats, it's winter, and they are resting. Or even a swooping crow can snatch an egg if a hen is a ground layer because she's trying to start a nest of babies! And on and on and on, I made excuses for this flock for about 6 months..... Oh say about 150 to 200 dollars of food. Skip the care time, water, especially in the wind storms, the rain, the ice, etc. And I wanted their eggs. I needed the eggs for market, to bake, to eat..... sigh. Loss was probably over 20 eggs a week . Yes a big loss for months!
First Offender! First hen caught in the act the afternoon of 3/13/2014 at 2:30 pm EST. I catch her by her hind legs and then fall (me) over a stump in the big yard. She's free and the sly one starts to clean her beak in the ground so she won't get caught. HA, I call hubby Jacque and misdial some one and scream, "Help Egg Eater !!!."..........The poor person getting that message still wonders, never returned my call. Realized I called the wrong number and redial. Jacque brings the net and I am almost in tears and told him she had cleaned her beak. He laughed and got the only one with a wet dirty beak and splashed yolk above her eyes. Offender #1 is removed and isolated in a holding pen. No question, no need to call her attorney for representation, no jury needed - She has Egg on her Face and She IS Guilty.
Possible solution #1 Electric Debeaker $379 plus shipping That's a lot of change and I have two offenders. Roughly $200 to keep these ladies continuing to produce eggs and hopefully make a clean cut and not take my hands or part of hand with it
Possible solution #2 Manual debeaker $14.99 plus tax plus 10.00 shipping - less expensive BUT the issue of the pain caused by this and that I could do a wrong cut and infection and continual pain could be present
Second Offender! I decide to visit the same pen. Dragnet Farmer Nancy Returns to the scene of the crime. It is 3/14/2014 at 3:45 pm EST. I see a hen with her backside hanging out of the front of the nestbox. For you non chicken people, hens face forward, toward the light and opening. If a hen is backwards in the nest box. she is up to something! So Farmer Nancy, Chicken Wrangler, make a clean grab and the hen was so absorbed eating the egg she didn't even sense my presence. She had gotten the yolk and was finishing up the white. She has Egg on her face and She IS GUILTY. Offender #2 is removed and isolated in another holding pen
Both hens were from the same yard. It is a huge space. I even brought them treats today. Feeder always full. Lots of water. High protein feed. I think this has been going on a long time. Because it seemed like egg production was about 1/2 of what it should be for months. On the plus side, since eater number one was pulled, 2 eggs were gathered by Jacque from the pen just minutes before the second hen was doing her egg eater act.
In our farmer years, I have learned how to do a lot of things. Sadly I have never been able to rehabilitate an egg eater. It seems to be a driving force not unlike my craving for coffee and great chocolate. Economically when there are egg eaters in your flocks, the price of getting the few eggs you can get keeps going higher and higher. Apparently the two egg eaters in this flock could wipe out 3 and 4 eggs a day plus feed, treats, water. They literally are the heaviest hens in the flock.
Egg Eater Intervention Rehabilitation Techniques Tried in the past:
- Verbal warning that nothing is worth dying for, That I won't literally die for my coffee
- Removal from pen to another pen of hens.
- Behavior modification effort. Put cracked egg in by the hen, sit and wait for her to start eating it, dunk her head fully in water. Repeat as needed. Do this on a warm day. You and hen will be very wet and all eggs will be eaten.
- Move her into the duck pen, worked for 2 days until she started trying to eat her eggs and the duck eggs
- Put a frying pan in the pen. It's an old wive's tale, it didn't work.
- Add fake marble eggs, golf balls eggs covered with hot sauce!to all the nest boxes
- Bring many high protein treats, greens etc to the yard
- Put a two liter bottle in the yard with water and shiny penny for her to play with
- Hang bacon and/or cabbage for pecking needs
- Processed the hen.
I have read it is NOT humane and it is painful both while doing it and for the rest of the life of the hen. As a female, I hate to say this but my roosters DO NOT and have never eaten eggs!
Sadly, it looks like chicken and dumplings will be on the menu next week. I tried in the past. I really did. I am out of tricks. Unless I keep my offenders in little cages and their eggs all roll out in to a catch area. Nope that's called caged eggs and we don't do that. I'm sorry Offender #1 and Offender #2. I did my best. You did what you craved. Life has consequences on this farm. I cannot afford you to be pets and costs me hundreds of dollars a year and eat the eggs the Farm needs. You are big girls and big eaters. And this is one of the hard parts of farming.........