The Golf Ball Remedy: Preventing the chickens eating their eggs.
Not so long ago we were getting five or six eggs a day from our eight chooks, which is not too bad seeing as we have few different breeds (and cross breeds, since occasionally we buy a rooster to provide a next generation and then soup) and not all are renowned as layers. But then the numbers dropped off alarmingly to perhaps one or two a day, and some days none. Soon enough we saw evidence of egg eating — yolky residue in the boxes and on the remaining eggs, mainly, but also we noticed that some chooks seemed to be taking an interest in whether another was laying, milling around like customers waiting for the barrista to call out their number.
The last resort is to do away with the lot of them, but first we’ll try a few things. Hence the golf ball remedy.
So far we have tried putting golf balls in the laying boxes. The theory, apparently, is that the chickens will peck at the balls, find them hard and unrewarding, and get out of the habit of trying to eat round things of any variety.
I thought we might be able to do some science; what works better, Hot Dot, DDH or a badly hacked up Titleist? But in the end the golf ball remedy, regardless of brand or colour, failed.
So we blew a few eggs and put nasty tasting things inside. Mustard is the recommendation.
Conclusion: Chickens really like mustard.
Turns out they were low on calcium and the problem was solved by buying some calcium carbonate/’shell grit’. There you go, we’re drowning in omelettes again.
The moral of the story is: Check if the subject has a simple unmet need before suspecting foul play.