Joan : hello, thank you for all your newsletters. I have four two year old chickens in the last few weeks they have consistently eaten eggs as soon as they lay. I have put in extra grit piles. Any suggestions or cure would be appreciated. Many thanks Joan Cawley
My Reply : Egg Eating often starts with an accidental breakage which can lead to your hens finding that they quite like the taste and deciding that they no longer want to share their eggs with us. Once the habit has started it can be a hard one to break. Other than the taste of the eggs they might also have a nutritional urge for them if they are not getting enough dietry protein and/or calcium, so ensuring that they are eating a balanced feed and healthy treats would be one of the first steps (if giving treats things like black oil sunflower seeds and dried mealworms have quite a high protein content and so could be quite helpful, oyster shell can help with calcium). There are a few popular methods for stopping hens eating eggs – mostly involving some kind of trickery so that they either find they can’t eat the eggs or they don’t want to – ideas include things like placing false eggs into the nest box, or making them taste bad, some people have also had success with scraps of white paper on the ground masquerading as bits of egg shell.
Some Ways to Prevent Egg Eating
- Collect eggs promptly. The faster eggs are collected from the nesting boxes, the less time they have to try to eat them. If you have multiple chickens they will likely be on individual laying schedules, so the more frequently you can get to your coop to collect eggs, the less likely your chickens are to start eating them.
- Provide your chickens with enough dietary protein and calcium. One of the reasons chickens might start eating their eggs is due to a lack of protein in their diet (or if they are particularly partial to the egg shells, calcium). By eating their own eggs, they could be trying to make up for protein/calcium they are missing. Make sure that you are feeding your chickens a complete feed that contains all necessary vitamins and minerals, and not giving them too many starchy treats.
- Don’t allow eggs to break. Once an egg breaks, their natural curiosity will soon have your chickens eating the yolk and white inside. To prevent broken eggs, use plenty of soft bedding in your hens’ nesting boxes.
Some Ways to Stop Egg Eating
- Replace eggs in the nest with something inedible. If your chickens have begun eating their eggs, replace their eggs with golf balls or wooden eggs (or even coloured plastic eggs as one subscriber had success doing). Your chickens should realize that they can’t eat these “fake” eggs and hopefully will then stop eating their own.
- Replace egg insides with something unsavory. Another strategy to combat egg eating is to fill an already broken egg with something like spicy mustard or hot sauce. Your hens will probably not like these condiments and within a few days will hopefully be put off from eating their own eggs in the future.
- Build or buy a rollaway nesting box (such as the one shown in the video below). A rollaway nesting box is built on an angle which allows fresh eggs to roll down a ramp to safety, removing all temptation. If it is practical to adapt or replace your nests for rollaway ones it can be an easy way to make sure that you are the one who gets to eat the eggs 🙂
Egg eating is indeed a frustrating habit but with a bit of strategy and luck it can be nipped in the bud – good luck!