Laying Hens – Attracting Them to One Spot

Q: I have four laying hens but I am an amateur at country life. The birds are free-ranging during the day. Someone told me to leave an egg marked with an “X” in the nest that the chickens most use for laying. I boiled an egg and placed it in a nest. After a few days the egg with the “X” was gone. Did a snake take it?

A: Putting false eggs in a nest is a time-honored way to attract laying hens to one spot, so they don’t scatter them across their range. This is the origin of the term “nest egg”. We commonly found snakes in the chicken houses of my family’s farm. A snake might be the culprit in your henhouse but a possum is more likely – the rotten egg smell would be very attractive. Cold weather limits the movement of snakes.

Next time, buy a couple of wooden eggs from a craft store, paint them white, and mark them with an “X”. That will make them unattractive to possums and, if a snake swallows it, they will have a TERRIBLE case of indigestion!

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