Project #239 – Fake Chicken Eggs
In order to get chickens to do what you want, sometimes you have to play to their instincts. Chickens naturally prefer to lay eggs in a nest that has already been used. It’s better to use a nest that has been proven safe rather than taking a chance and building a new, untested one. Most people take advantage of this chicken behavior and put out fake eggs in a place of their choosing. Otherwise, free-range chickens will just lay where they please and their humans are left playing a real-life Easter Egg hunt.
But why fake eggs? Why not use real ones from the supermarket? Chickens are curious and they have a way of discovering that real ones, even hard-boiled, are delicious. Once they go down that path it’s hard to make them stop. They’ll peck at the fake ones and then ignore all eggs because those first few sure weren’t tasty.
Our chickens are almost old enough to start laying eggs and we’d prefer that we got a first crack at them. I decided to make a few test eggs out of polymer clay and see how they worked for the chickens. Polymer clay is expensive, so I decided to make two with different materials in the center to see which worked best. I wrapped my clay around a ping pong ball and a large marble and then baked them at 215 degrees F for 30 minutes.
The marble egg came out just right, but the ping pong ball one exploded right before I pulled it out of the oven. That’s too bad because we have a lot of defunct table tennis balls sitting around the house that are dying for a purpose.
I’m going to make at least two or three more and add them to one of our nesting boxes. The funny thing is that these are supposed to work even if a chicken has never seen an egg. There is supposed to be something about round objects that trigger a nesting instinct in those little peanut brains.