Nigel and Heidi created two wonderful Linnie families for me, last year. Last year, their clutches were four eggs (resulting in four chicks), each time.
Nigel is a true gentleman while his lady is in waiting. Heidi is a devoted momma, hardly leaving her eggs in a 24-hour period. However, whenever I have been able to peek, I could count to six! An average clutch for Linnies is four to six eggs, so I was thrilled to get six!
Two days ago, I peeked again, and counted to five. Egg #6 is completely missing/disappeared/nowhere! No shells, not lost in the bedding material… simply vanished. This happens, occasionally, and is very saddening. So, where did the egg go? Sometimes, the male is the culprit, eating the eggs, not realising how valuable they are (eggs are children, not food!). Sometimes, the hen eats the eggs, or tosses them out of the nestbox for her own reasons.
As a breeder, my overall theory has always been that the hens know more than I do! My job is to offer a clean environment with plenty of healthy food choices, clean water and correct lighting and heat, and that the birds know what they need and when they need it.
So, where is Egg #6? I believe Heidi knows it is not viable, and has therefore eaten it to give herself the benefit of the calcium provided by the shell.
Today, there are only four eggs. I happened to pass by the cage as Nigel was creeping out of the nestbox (looking, in my opinion, extremely guilty!). Great… do we have a villan, I assumed. I opened the nestbox to cautiously look inside, to discover Egg #5 is missing because it has turned into a tweeny, wriggly, pale-pink Linnie!