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Anatelostaxus's avatar

To reap the first eggs, or not to reap?

Asked by Anatelostaxus (1418 points ) January 19th, 2012

I found today my chickens’ first eggs in the coop.
I would very much appreciate any suggestion you could give on :

1) Whether or not I should take them immediately, or perhaps leave them in for a bit and wait ‘til a moment the hens are far away to not “traumatise” them :-)

2) Whether I should place an egg somewhere where I want them to lay in the future, away from danger of course.

3) (I’d made them two nests, but I assume it was the ducks in the coop to destroy them…) Whether or not and how I should make them another nest.

4) General behaviour I should have with and for them.

Thanks!

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4 Answers

Coloma's avatar

It is always best to collect the eggs asap. You can use a fake egg as a decoy if you want to try to lure the hens to lay in a certain nestbox, but, no guarantees this will work.
It is a bad idea to leave an egg in the nest, as they lay more you won’t be able to tell the old egg from the fresh, unless you mark it. You can use a piece of tape or a felt marker.

I kept chickens for years and they are very much creatures of habit, they will pick their own spots and it’s best to leave them to their own preferences. If you observe your flock you will find that most hens lay before afternoon, usually early to mid-morning.
I would let my hens out to free range after they had finished laying, otherwise they will often go off and lay their eggs in the bushes and make them hard to find.
I had a few experiences with finding a huge clutch of eggs in the weeds. lol

Also, especially in the warm weather, nest boxes and laying hens are a major target for mites. Keep your nest boxes clean and dust them with Sevin dust or 6 roost malathion spray and check your hens periodically, looking under their wings, and around their vents for signs of mites, which are tiny little red crawlies that are visible to the naked eye.
If mites become a big problem, just like fleas, you must clean, disinfect the coop and nest boxes and dip your birds in a bucket of warm water up to their necks with a couple of tablespoons of Hexol to kill all mites.

P.S. Some hens develop the bad habit of cannibalizing their own eggs, so speedy collection is best. :-)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I love keeping chickens! I am sad that I live in a place where I can’t do that anymore. I have heard of putting decoy eggs in the henhouse to encourage the hens to start laying, but have never heard of any reason to leave the first “pullet” eggs. Chickens don’t get traumatized unless a predator is after them. Ha-ha! You don’t want eggs to spoil, or encourage the hens to start trying to hatch them, so I would take them out ASAP while they are fresh.

YoBob's avatar

Bottom line is chickens are just not all that bright. You are not going to traumatize them by taking their first eggs.

As for nests, you can attempt to encourage them to lay where you want, but at the end of the day they have ultimate say where they decide to dump their load and you really have little say in the matter.

Stinley's avatar

I looked after chickens for a few weeks and would say to get hold of a couple of books on the subject from perhaps, your local library. There’s a Dorling kindersly one that I used that was nice and clear. Good luck, they’re funny creatures

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