So since we discovered Dorothy was hiding her eggs in the pampas grass we hacked it back and had hoped that she would go back to laying in her usual area. It did seem to go well at first and we were back to having all our eggs laid in the nest. Then the other day when collecting there was some dried egg yolk on one of the shells. However, there was a small crack in one of them so I presumed that was the source of the spilt egg. However, the next day there was more yolk spilt and no egg from Dorothy. We had a suspected egg eater. We spent the weekend monitoring and trying to remove eggs as soon as possible and we then thought we had an alternative scenario. Magpies. When popping to see the girls one morning I found a magpie in the run trying to steal some of the chicken pellets (food). On another day I found a broken egg shell a little bit outside the fencing; I suspected a magpie or other bird had stolen it and dropped it.
So, we moved the chicken fencing so that the pampas grass was not part of it (so Dorothy couldn’t lay her eggs there anymore and would get back to laying in the coop) and started to be vigilant about shutting the run as well as the coop door at night to keep explorers out. The problem seem to be solved and we started to have eggs from all six girls back in the coop and no evidence of spilt yolk anywhere.
Then this evening I was wandering past the fencing and saw what looked like Anna laying an egg. I raced around to rescue it but unfortunately it was a dud. Sometimes a chicken will lay an egg without a shell, this is more common when they first start laying or when they are coming to the end of their optimum laying age. They can’t be eaten as the shell protects the egg from contamination but is an interesting thing to see. Below is one I found once on the edge of the pampas grass.
However, today before I could get to the dud egg the girls had started eating it. I managed to shoo them away and throw what I could over the fencing and have covered the area as they kept pecking around to try and prevent them getting a taste for it. This has thrown up another question – was the original yolk discovery from a dud egg that was eaten? Is this what the girls do with dud eggs? I guess I need to spend another weekend of monitoring the girls!