Contents: How To Stop Chickens From Eating Eggs
How To Stop Chickens From Eating Their Eggs
If you have egg-eating chickens, you have a serious problem on your hands. If the behavior continues unchecked, this behavior can spread to the entire flock and may become an expensive habit to break.
To stop egg-eating in their tracks, follow the steps below:
Clean: First you have to completely remove any cracked or broken eggs as soon as possible! Also, make sure the nesting box and padding are completely clean.
Collect: You’ll also have to collect freshly produced eggs more frequently to make sure there are no eggs lingering in the nest boxes or their surroundings.
If you’re not around to collect eggs all the time, you can also get curtained nesting boxes that are angled (Amazon). The eggs will roll down a tray with a protective lid that keeps curious chickens from pecking or stepping on the eggs. This simple solution not only keeps your eggs clean, but also ensures their safety.
Ceramic Eggs: Place fake, ceramic eggs (Amazon) in your hens’ nesting boxes. These decoy eggs are usually used with young hens (pullets) to persuade them to lay their eggs in their nesting boxes instead of on the floor where they are more likely to get damaged and become a target for egg-eating.
However, not only will these eggs guide them to the perfect laying spot, but they’ll also teach your chickens a valuable lesson – pecking at eggs is a fruitless task. The hard and inedible fake eggs will quickly lose their appeal, leading to happier and healthier hens who leave their real eggs alone.
It’s important to note that using fake eggs may not completely stop chickens from egg eating and it’s always a good idea to monitor their behavior and take other steps to prevent this behavior as well.
Separate Egg-Eater(s): Unfortunately, if the tips above don’t do the trick, you must swiftly identify and remove the egg-eating chicken. Quick action is crucial to prevent this behavior from being taught to the other members of the flock.
Some people suggest that you transform your egg-eating problem into a delectable prank by blowing out the eggshells and filling them with a yellow mustard surprise.
Start by piercing both ends with a pin or small nail and removing the egg yolk, then fill the egg with yellow mustard.
The potent scent and flavor of yellow mustard are usually too much for chickens to handle. So, if you’re lucky, it may stop your chickens from pecking and destroying their eggs.
Unfortunately, one of my hens wasn’t fazed by the mustard, forcing me to explore alternative solutions.
How Do You Know Which Chicken Is Eating Eggs?
Look for signs of egg yolk on beaks or catch the chickens in the act to identify the culprit.
If all eggs mysteriously vanish or clean shells are found near the nest, a predator may be the culprit, not egg-eating chickens.
Why Do Chickens Eat Their Eggs?
Knowing why chickens engage in this behavior can help you determine how to best prevent it from occurring in your flock.
There are several reasons why chickens might begin to eat their own eggs, which include:
Tasty Accident: Cannibalistic egg-eating among chickens often starts with a broken egg in the nesting box due to overcrowding, not enough padding in the nesting box, or thin shells caused by poor nutrition. But once the birds discover the delicious taste of eggs, they’ll actively break them to feast.
So make sure eggs are collected often or you provide adequate nesting boxes and nesting material/padding so the eggs won’t crack.
If your hens are laying soft or thin shells that crack easily, check out my post: Chickens Laying Thin-Shelled Eggs
Vitamin deficiency: Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus are crucial for a chicken’s well-being. Without these vital nutrients, chickens may resort to egg-eating. (If you think your chickens might have a vitamin deficiency, check out my post: Vitamin Deficiency in Chickens)
Egg-laying hens may turn to eat their eggs if their diet lacks adequate calcium, causing them to search for it in the shells. Keep your feathered friends healthy by providing high-quality chicken feed (Amazon), including a source of calcium like oyster shells (Amazon), to avoid this egg-eating behavior.
To learn more about how to give laying hens the proper amount of calcium, check out my post: Do Chickens Need Oyster Shells?
Incorrect Nests & Lighting: Egg eating is a common issue that arises from a shortage of suitable nesting boxes, nests/coops that have overpowering lights, or overcrowded, restless hens. To avoid this problem, ensure that your birds have access to the right type of nesting boxes and environment.
Eggs that aren’t visible to the chickens mean they are less likely to peck and devour them. So, I like to discourage non-laying activities in nesting boxes by darkening them with curtains. Just tack or staple the curtains in front and temporarily pin up one edge for a few days to train the hens to use the nest behind the curtains.
Eggs that aren’t visible to the chickens are less likely to be pecked and devoured.
Boredom: If the chickens do not have enough to do, they may become bored and start pecking at anything they can, including their eggs.
Eliminate boredom and behavioral issues, such as egg eating, by giving chickens the space they need to thrive. A spacious run or backyard offers the chance for exercise and exploration, far beyond the limitations of a cramped coop.
Food & Water Availability: Ensure your hens never go hungry by keeping a steady supply of nourishing food and water at the ready.
To prevent bullying, consider installing additional feeding stations (Amazon’s best-sellers), so all birds have equal access to sustenance.
Conclusion: Preventing Chickens From Destroying Their Eggs
Many chicken keepers have experienced the frustration of finding their hens destroying their own eggs, which is a common problem that can easily be prevented with a few simple steps:
- Provide adequate nutrition: Chickens may eat their eggs if they are lacking certain nutrients in their diet. Make sure they have access to a balanced diet that includes calcium and other minerals. I like to give my hens good-quality, commercial chicken feed with the appropriate amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Nest boxes: Provide clean and comfortable nest boxes for the chickens to lay their eggs in. Chickens are less likely to eat their eggs if they have a dedicated and secure place to lay them. Also, hang curtains in front of the entrance for privacy.
- Remove broken eggs promptly: Remove any broken or cracked eggs from the coop as soon as possible to reduce the temptation for chickens to eat them.
- Collect eggs: Routinely remove eggs from nesting boxes and around the coop to reduce the chance of hens discovering and pecking at them. Collecting eggs regularly, at least once or twice a day (more is better!), can prevent egg eating by chickens. This helps ensure that eggs are removed before they have a chance to crack, which can lead to chickens eating the eggs.
- Make eggs less appealing: Before pullets are about to start laying eggs, add fake ceramic eggs to nests (some people also use wooden eggs or golf balls). These hard decoy eggs teach the chickens that eggs are not edible and shouldn’t be pecked at.
- Separate egg-eaters: If you have one or two chickens that consistently eat the eggs, consider separating them from the rest of the flock to break the cycle.
It can be difficult to figure out the root cause of why a chicken is destroying its own eggs, but with perseverance and understanding it’s possible.