Chickens eating their eggs isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. It’s natural and not as disturbing as one might think. But if you rely on these eggs, it can get a little frustrating, especially if it happens repeatedly. Why does think keep happening? Let’s talk about 7 ways to stop chickens from eating eggs.
Why Would A Chicken Eat Its Own Egg?
There are a few reasons that chickens might eat their eggs. In most cases, it’s a vitamin deficiency. Chickens are intelligent and resourceful little birds, and they know just how much goes into creating an egg. So to get those nutrients back, they might start eating their eggs.
Another reason your hens might eat their egg is due to stress or lack of enrichment. But sometimes, it’s simply because your hens love eggs, and we don’t blame them for that at all. So let’s look at 7 ways to stop chickens from eating eggs.
#1 Increase Calcium Intake
One way to stop chickens eating eggs is to keep the eggshells strong. If your eggs are cracking by accident, your hens are probably taking advantage of a tasty mess. It’s also a possibility that your hens are only eating the eggs to get an extra dose of calcium from the shells.
In either case, it’s best to give some extra oyster shells to your flock. What is oyster shells for chickens? It’s a fine powder rich in calcium made from an oyster shell. Most chicken keepers put oyster shells in a separate dish for the hens to eat whenever they like. However, you can also sprinkle it directly into their feed to ensure they eat it.
Another way to increase the calcium your hens eat is by giving them eggshell. That’s right; you can save all of your eggshells and grind them up. Your hens will love these eggshells, and they might even prefer them to oyster shells. With all of this extra calcium, you won’t have any cracked eggs or hens starving for extra nutrition.
#2 More Protein In Their Diet
In colder months, a hen might take to eating eggs to increase her protein. After all, making the egg takes a lot of nutrients and protein itself. Make sure your chickens are getting enough protein in their diet to make up for this loss of resources.
Many owners find that switching to a feed with 18% protein in winter is sufficient enough to hold them over until spring. But you might want to give them a little extra. Raising mealworms or crickets is a fast and cheap way to feed your hens something fun to chase in winter. Not to mention those treats are also really high in the protein they crave.
#3 Collect Eggs Frequently
Did you know that most hens finish laying their eggs by 10 am every day? This rule isn’t always accurate and depends on your hens breed. But if your hens lay early, and the eggs sit there until late evening, you ask for accidents. So it’s always best to collect eggs as frequently as possible to limit your hen’s exposure to them.
At least twice a day, you should check the nesting boxes and remove all eggs. We recommend going out after a few hours of daylight, and again by 3 pm. By that time, all of your hens should finish laying their eggs. With no eggs, your hens won’t have time to chow down.
#4 Keep Stress Levels Down
The next on our 7 ways to stop chickens from eating eggs might be shocking. Did you know that hens are pretty stressed while laying their eggs? It’s a taxing process, and they are at their most vulnerable. If a hen is stressed, she might step on eggs or knock them out of the nest.
To keep your hens safe and comfortable, keep the nesting boxes dimmed/dark. Make sure the boxes aren’t near windows or doors. It also helps to use nesting boxes with high sides to create a barrier between them. With this sort of privacy, your hens will relax and less likely to eat their eggs.
#5 Provide Cushioned Nesting Box
Sometimes even the toughest eggs can’t survive a hard landing. If you notice that many of your eggs crack despite lots of protein and calcium, it’s time to evaluate your boxes. Each box should have a nice layer of bedding to keep them comfortable and soft.
The best bedding to use for this is pine shavings or straw. But don’t be stingy on this. You will need at least a 2-inch layer to keep your hens comfortable and the eggs cushioned. And don’t forget to check these layers often. Sometimes your hens will kick some bedding out, and as time goes, it will compact into the box. A little extra cushion might be just what you need to stop hens eating eggs.
Let’s also rule out bored chickens from this equation. A bored chicken might decide to take snacking into its own hands. And what better snack than a delicious egg? To prevent this from happening, give your hens a treat they can’t refuse.
Hanging baskets with fruits and vegetables is fun and tasty entertainment. Or maybe a little free-range time is just what the doctor ordered. You could even plant a chicken garden to give your hens a constant source of food and entertainment.
Another thing to consider is space. If your hens are overcrowded, they could have problems keeping busy. A packed run means less food to forage for and more egg eating. Do a quick count on your hens to ensure that you have 3 sqft of space per bird in the coop and 10sqft in the run. If you find yourself a little crowded, it might be time for an upgrade.
#7 Decoy Eggs
If worse comes to worst, you might want to start training your hens to stop eating the eggs. One way to do this is to put a wooden egg or gold ball in the besting box. The idea is that your hens will peck at these fake eggs and give up when the eggs don’t crack. The decoy eggs shouldn’t hurt your hens, but there is one more trick if you are worried.
You can fill an empty egg with English mustard. To do this, all you need to do is poke a hole into each end of a real egg. Blow the yolk and white out through the holes, and save the shells. Then fill the shell with English mustard and place them into the coop.
When your hens eat this mustard-filled egg, they will be disgusted. Mustard is the kryptonite of hens, and they will stop. They won’t trust any eggs after a few mustard eggs. So your problem is solved!
Does Feeding Your Hens Eggs Make Them Eat It?
Some people think that feeding their hens eggs gives them a craving for it. But this isn’t exactly true. Chickens won’t crave eating their eggs more just because they have had eggs in the past. Eggs are packed with nutrients, and you shouldn’t feel bad about feeding your hens an occasional egg or two.
However, you probably don’t want to feed your hens eggs if they are currently eating the ones they lay. Instead, you should resolve the issue first. Then once you are confident they won’t eat eggs anymore, feed them only cooked eggs.
How Can I Tell Which Chickens Are Eating Eggs?
So you’ve tried all these tricks and still can’t figure out what’s going on? You might want to see which hen is eating all of the eggs to rule out medical problems. So how do you do this? The easiest way is to look for the hen with egg on her face, literally. Most chickens are messy eaters, so if you have a hen breaking eggs to eat them, she will likely have egg on her beak and face.
Another way to identify your egg-eater is to sit and wait. Once you have collected all of the eggs, keep a lookout. You will see a hen go in to do her laying, and another hen will run in right after. This second hen is running in to get the eggs first, and you will have your culprit. You could even set up a baby cam to keep an eye on them if you aren’t home.
And finally, you might have to make an egg sacrifice. When you’ve collected all of your eggs, place an unbroken egg in the run. But make sure that it’s not cracked. A cracked egg will automatically attract all the hens, but a whole egg will only attract the egg-eater. When you see an egg going in for a taste, you know who is eating your eggs.
Once you know who is eating your eggs, you can isolate them and rule out underlying health issues. Sometimes the isolation itself helps break the hen from eating eggs again.
With A Few Tricks, You Can Resolve This
Having fewer eggs can be distressing. No matter if it’s less food or less profit, your eggs are valuable. With these 7 ways to stop chickens from eating eggs, you will be back to normal soon.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!