Egg-eating is one of the most annoying and frustrating habits your chickens can have. Anyone who has gone out to collect their fresh eggs, only to find the chickens have smashed them to pieces and eaten them can definitely sympathise with this issue!
So why do chickens eat their own eggs?!
There are actually a number of reasons why chickens choose to nibble at their own eggs:
Boredom - if chickens are feeling restless, they may peck at their own eggs just for something new to do if they are left sitting in the nesting box. Once they’re broken open, there’s a good chance they could eat the egg and develop the nasty habit. Find out more about busting your flock's boredom here.
Lack of nutrition - chickens can sense when they’re deficient in something. If they’re lacking in calcium or protein, the chickens will seek out a new food source to quell this deficiency, and unfortunately eggs are often in the firing line. Find out what to feed your flock here.
Stress or nervousness - if your chicken are jostling for space, or even get startled often, this can result in the accidental breakage of an egg. Chickens can be curious creatures, so if they investigate the spillage by pecking at it, this can form an egg-eating habit.
Overly bright nesting boxes - your chickens need dark, secure locations away from other chickens to lay their eggs, so if the nesting box is exposed or has bright light shining on it, then the chickens can become nervous and skittish, and peck at their own eggs.
Who’s doing it?
If you've got a host of chickens and can’t tell who’s got the unfortunate habit, there are signs to look out for to find the culprit.
Monitor the nesting boxes during usual egg-laying time - the chicken with the bad habit usually hangs around the fresh eggs.
Just like a child busted with chocolate smeared all over their face, you can generally find traces of yellow yolk on the beak and feathers of the egg-eater.
Look for broken shells and other bits of evidence at the bottom of your chickens’ nesting boxes - the culprit is often the one who nests there.
How To Stop It
There are measures you can implement to save your eggs, and try to break the habit of the hens (very important, as one hen can influence the whole flock to start!)
Make sure all hens have a spacious nesting box that’s dark and private. Usually, it’s good to have one box per 4 hens as they don’t all lay at the same time.
Collect eggs multiple times a day - to get your hands on them before the hens do.
Make sure your feed contains enough protein and calcium to satisfy the chickens requirements (shell grit is a great source to add to their feed).
Replace the eggs with ‘decoys’ - put golf balls, wooden eggs, plastic eggs or other objects into the nesting boxes so they can peck at something else.
Worst case scenario, you might have to separate the naughty chicken from the rest of the flock until all your other feathered friends have finished laying their eggs.
One of the best things you can do to prevent your chickens from indulging in egg-eating is to ensure they have a spacious coop to run around in - so if your chickens are destroying your produce, it might be time to upgrade! Why don’t you try Taj Mahal, The Penthouse or Mansion coops? These coops will keep any feathered friends in complete comfort.
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