Magpies were getting into the hen-house and eating the eggs – I finally outwitted them with a fly curtain combination and by filling in all the gaps under the eaves with wire netting.
I searched on the internet but all I found were lots of tales of woe with people having the same problem. The general advice seemed to be: “Shoot the b—ers”, but then of course you have to find someone with a gun who will sit there for ages and try and catch them unawares!
Hens of course cluck very loudly every time they have laid an egg – which is like a dinner gong to the magpies! Every day I’d try something new, find another gap under the roof and block it with wire netting, tried using the pop-hole again in the hope the magpies would not find it – all to no avail. Then I finally went and bought this very pretty fly-curtain (used to keep the flies out but it works for magpies too). And it works! I thought it might stop the hens and ducks too but it really doesn’t bother them – they trot through quite happily but the magpies don’t like it at all.
This morning I went into the hen house and a pigeon flew at me – didn’t go through the fly curtain though, so there was a lot of frantic fluttering until I hid outside and held the fly curtain aside so it could fly out. Goodness knows how it got in and I do hope the magpies weren’t watching!
The hens got really upset and kept finding new places to lay their eggs but the magpies nearly always found them. I don’t mind the wild birds eating the food I put out for the hens but taking the eggs is just not on. Evidently jackdaws are just as bad. If you have trouble with crows a dead crow hung nearby will stop them but I’m told this doesn’t work with jackdaws or magpies. Shooting them is of course the best option because it stops them taking the wild birds’ eggs – and they take young birds too.
So if you think one of your hens might be eating the eggs it’s highly unlikely- and it’s almost bound to be one of the Corvidae family which includes crows, magpies and jackdaws – so try a fly curtain first.
Anyway I now have some very happy hens.
(L to R) Snowflake, Doris and Dillon