Monday, April 26, 2010

Cannibalism in the Coop

We've got a problem: our chickens have turned cannibal. First, the Barred Rocks started hen pecking the Reds, pulling out the feathers on their heads. Obviously, cannibalism in this case is a bit of an overstatement, but that's what the text books call it. There was never any blood, just pecking to establish the social order. And now, they're eating the eggs. Just this past weekend we started to notice a decrease in the eggs we were getting, and when Gardener was outside he heard one of the hens making a loud banging noise in the coop. He looked inside to see one of the Reds eating a broken egg in the nest box. We're not sure what started it, but yesterday we got no eggs, and this morning there was evidence of more broken yolks.

This weekend we also ended up building an isolation coop for one of the henpecked Reds. We noticed she was spending a lot of time hiding from the others, and then we noticed that she also has a swollen toe which she's limping on. We built this temporary "chicken hospital" to get her away from the others so that she can get plenty to eat and some rest.

I've been spending some time researching tips to stop the egg eating, but I'm really not sure what to do. A lot of what I'm hearing is that once they get the taste for eggs, it's nearly impossible to stop them. We'd be more than happy to hear from anyone who might have any suggestions. (Please!)