Dual-purpose Chickens – 4 – Eggs

In fall of 201IMG_10844 I decided I wanted to raise some dual-purpose chickens.  The main focus was on incubating my own birds to raise as “panfrys”, traditional meat birds frequently used in pan frying.  Now I want eggs.

 

In between my incubation sessions, we were getting 6-7 eggs average a day from the 9 hens.  We had built up  a rotation of almost 8 dozen eggs in the fridge when we started having issues.

 

First I noticed some eggs were broken.  I determined it was a chicken pecking eggs, but which one?  While I was trying to figure out how to catch the egg eater, first one, then two of the Buff Orpington hens went broody on me.  At first they were in the nesting boxes, but as I kept kicking them out of those, they took up corners in the coop.  I managed to dissuade one of them by continually kicking her out, but the other was to stubborn.

 

In the mean time, I thought I had found my egg eater.  I saw a Buff running around with a broken egg shell.  I separated her, but by now between the broody hens taking all the eggs and the egg eater we were only getting 1-2 eggs a day.  This went on for almost 6 weeks while I “studied” the birds and waited for a chicken tractor to be freed so I could start isolating the birds to get to the bottom of what was going on.

 

The Buff I separated wash sharing the tractor with my dual-purpose meat birds.  However, she was rejoined the flock after two weeks as the loss of eggs had not lessoned and she started laying in the tractor without pecking the eggs.  The birds that were in the tractor with her graduated, but we restocked the tractor with Brother’s M chickens and I did not want to the layer hens with the Brother’s meat birds.  Finally we emptied the chicken tractors; however, we were leaving for vacation in a week.  I didn’t want to complicate things for my caretaker, so almost two months passed with little to no eggs.

 

When we returned from a vacation, I immediately separated the Delaware and Buffs by putting the Buffs in an empty tractor.  Within a week the buffs started laying 2-3 eggs again while the Delawares produced none.  So I started introducing Delaware hens with the Buffs to identify the egg eater.  The first one I introduced ran past me and started pecking the Buff eggs as I was trying to gather them.  Found her!  The other two were introduced 3 days apart and we did not loose any more eggs.

 

But now, I was losing daylight and the birds were not laying well.  I moved the coop up by the house and installed a light on a timer.  Production picked up, until… more pecked egg.  This time I noticed a Delaware hanging out in the coop and separated her.  No missing eggs for a week.  Then …. More pecked eggs.  I took the third and last Delaware out of the flock, one had disappeared during the summer, and now had just 5 Buffs.

 

Months later and still no pecked eggs.  The 5 Buffs are producing an average of 3 eggs a day.

 

-Jason