laying hens

Well, for the last three days I have been getting up as close to sunrise as possible.  I have been suspecting that egg eating has been spreading through my small and new flock.  About three weeks ago I acquired 3 white leghorn layers free.  I was very excited that as soon as I brought them home, they started to lay nice white eggs for me.  Although I had been told they were eating their eggs, I continued to find 2-3 eggs for the next week or so.  Then, suddenly, the eggs disappeared.  About the same time, I added two Easter Eggers to the flock. 

 
It only took a couple of days for me to get frustrated with my egg loss.  I cannot afford to feed hens that won’t give me eggs;  right now I am actually receiving food stamps.  N addition, I was worried that this behavior might pass to the new hens.  I removed the most aggressive hen from the flock into a rabbit cage for a day, but still, I only found one blue egg.  The next day I trimmed the leghorns’ beaks with toenail clippers, hoping this would deter the behavior.  But, after spending several hours sitting in the coop making observations, I 
decided to pull all 3 leghorns out and give them away by evening or kill them.  
 
Just at sunset, a woman came to retrieve the leghorns. After telling me that she has roll away nest boxes that prevent the hens from eating their eggs, she checked their vents and told me they were indeed still laying.  I never saw a shell.
 
Well, I was still worried about behavior drift, so this morning I again let the hens out about 6 am.  I   knew they weren’t scheduled to lay until noon or so, since they laid at 10:30 yesterday, but I sat down to observe again.  The easter Eggers were surprisingly hostile to the 3 layers I added to the coop (this time two delawarean and a jersey giant) during the night, so I caught them and trimmed their beaks.  I was still suspicious of the lighter Easter Eggers, Sandy.  She often sits on the nest but doesn’t lay, so I wondered if she, too, was eating her own eggs.  After watching her rearrange the plastic eggs with her beak, it seems she is merely somewhat broody, and, indeed she is missing a good portion of her breast feathers.
 
I am sitting in the coop now typing.  A newcomer is sitting in the makeshift nesting box, apparently awaiting her egg.  I feel that things may be resolved as far as egg eating goes.  I am still looking for anew marbleqq or stone eggs for the boxes, and I will keep beaks short if hens are suspected.  They have free oyster shells, layer pellets, scratch, and later, browse.  I won’t have every day to spend managing layers, so I do hope these provisions keep the hens happy.
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