It can be quite annoying for chicken keepers to discover that chicken eggs are disappearing from the nest. After all, this would mean you have to go on a hunt for the eggs, and you’ll also have to find out what’s causing your loss of eggs.
So, why are your chicken eggs disappearing, and what can you do about it?
The eggs may not be missing at all, but they’re just hidden from plain sight. Predators may also be stealing the eggs if your coop is left unlocked at night. You could usually resolve the issue by putting up nesting boxes or putting up fences to deter predators from reaching your chicken coop at night.
In this article, I will go through the most likely reasons that your chicken eggs are disappearing and what you can do to stop it in the future.
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6 Reasons Why Your Chicken Eggs Are Disappearing
Here are 6 common reasons why your chicken eggs are disappearing to help you solve the mystery of missing eggs.
Your Chickens Are Hiding Them
Chickens can be pretty secretive when it comes to laying eggs. This comes as no surprise to most chicken keepers, so if you’re noticing disappearing eggs from the nest, then it may be a sign that your chickens are hiding them.
Hidden eggs usually happen when you don’t have sufficient nesting boxes or the nesting boxes don’t feel safe to the chickens. In which case you’ll commonly find the eggs around the darker areas of your coop.
If you suspect that your chickens are hiding their eggs, you’ll want to be sure you’ll walk around the coop carefully as you don’t want to trample on them by accident.
Your Chickens Are Molting
As temperatures dip around fall and winter, your chickens will begin to molt, a situation where they shed their old feathers to grow new ones. You’ll be able to spot a molting chicken from the looks of their feathers – if their feathers are looking patchy and disheveled, then it’s likely that your chickens are molting.
Molting chickens generally do not lay eggs as they may be too exhausted from the feather change. Chickens don’t always molt in synchronization, so you’ll occasionally see them molt one after another instead. When this happens, all you can do is wait for the molting season to be over, and your chickens will begin laying again.
Your Chickens Are Sick
A drop in egg production can also indicate the presence of a sick chicken in your flock. Other tell-tale signs of an unwell chicken include symptoms like coughing, dull appearances, watery eyes, and nostrils, as well as unscheduled molting – especially in spring or summer.
You’ll want to be aware if you spot one sick chicken in your flock and remove them from the coop immediately. It’s recommended that you bring your chicken to the poultry vet as soon as you can, as immediate treatment may be key to saving your chicken’s life.
Your Chickens Are Feeling Broody
If your chickens are broody, they will stop laying eggs as they’ll focus on hatching the eggs they have. You can easily identify broody chickens from the pack when they appear more protective of their eggs than usual. Common traits include being vocal when you approach them, or if they’re aggressive, they may even peck you angrily.
Broody chickens become increasingly common during springtime due to the longer day hours or when they’re allowed to accumulate eggs in their nest. If you’ve noticed chicken eggs disappearing from the nest, you may want to check if any of the brooding chickens have stolen them instead.
They Are Being Stolen by a Predator or a Family Member
While it is most unfortunate, it’s likely that disappearing chicken eggs are due to predators hanging around your chicken nest and waiting to pound. Predators like snakes, foxes, raccoons, or even playful dogs are common suspects for chicken eggs disappearing from the nest.
For a description of predators that might have stolen your eggs, take a look at this article: Why Your Duck Eggs Are Disappearing and What You Can Do About It
If you’re certain that your chicken coop is safe from any of these predators, then perhaps a member of your family has taken the chicken eggs instead.
It’s not uncommon for miscommunications to arise when you’re working with your family to care for a flock of chickens, so it may be good to speak to your family if you realize your chicken eggs are disappearing.
The Eggs May Have Hatched
Finally, if you’re noticing chicken eggs disappearing from the nest, there could be an off chance that they have hatched. This is common in situations when chicken eggs are left uncollected for long periods, as your chickens may turn to brood them instead.
To tell if the eggs have hatched, you’ll want to check if there are eggshells around the nest.
Dried eggshells with a dry and mildly bloody membrane is an indication of a newly hatched chick around your coop. Hatched chicks will also leave the eggshells with no yolk or white attached to the shells, making it easier for you to identify if you have one or more new members in the family.
How to Stop Your Chicken Eggs from Disappearing
Now that you’ve discovered some of the common reasons for your disappearing eggs, you’ll want to ensure you can address the issues at hand. Below are some ideas on what you can do about your missing chicken eggs.
Set up a camera in your coop
If your budget allows, you may want to set up a camera in your coop to find out which of the reasons above are the cause of your disappearing eggs. This will help you best identify what you can do about the mystery of your missing eggs and save you more time and effort in the long run.
Provide enough nesting boxes for your chicken
Chickens will often hide away from the crowd if they’re looking to lay eggs. When they don’t have a nesting box to lay eggs, this will force them to look for what feels like a safer area for them to lay eggs. You’ll find this to be an inconvenient way to collect eggs as you’ll never know where your chickens will lay eggs from one day to the next.
As such, it’s recommended to provide enough nesting boxes for your flock of chickens. Be sure not to build your boxes higher than the roost to avoid having your chickens sleep in the nesting boxes instead. In general, having 1 nesting box for every 5 chickens in your coop is the ideal number.
Also, make sure your nesting boxes feel safe and undisturbed as chickens need a peaceful place to lay their eggs.
Put up Fences to Deter Predators
Not only will predators spook your chickens and cause them stress, but as mentioned, they may well be the culprits behind your disappearing chicken eggs. Common predators like snakes, foxes, and raccoons may come at night to steal the eggs, so you’ll need to take all necessary steps to deter them from coming.
Be sure to put up fences around the coop and lock it up before you head to bed every night. If you’re worried about snakes eating the eggs, then be sure to also put up mesh coverings around the lower areas of your coop.
Retain a Frequent Collection Schedule
When there are too many eggs in a nest, your chickens may feel the urge to be brood and hatch the eggs. This will cause egg production to dip since broody chickens will generally not lay eggs. To avoid this, you should retain a frequent collection schedule to keep the eggs out of the nest as much as possible.
Setting up a collection schedule also allows you to monitor your chickens closer, and you’ll be able to identify chickens that may be unwell from an earlier stage.