When you raise chickens, you’re excited to gather your own fresh eggs, but what do you do if chickens are eating their own eggs? Here are some tips on how to handle this!
Are Your Chickens Actually Eating Their Own Eggs?
First off, you should determine that your chickens actually ARE eating their own eggs. Humans are not the only creatures out there that think chicken eggs are quite delicious. If your coop is not critter proof, you may think it’s your chickens, but in reality, you could have other animals stealing your eggs. Common egg eaters include raccoons, skunks, possums, snakes, and rats.
Checking your coop for signs of invasion, putting out a night camera, gathering eggs daily, and doing visual checks for unwelcome guests at night time can all help you determine if you’ve got the right culprit.
Are Your Chickens Getting The Right Nutrition?
If in fact your ladies are to blame, the most likely reason is that they have a nutrient deficiency. Make sure you are giving all your laying hens access to oyster shell so that they get enough calcium. Some people feed their hens crushed egg shells, but if you already have an egg-eater, this can perpetuate the problem.
And also make sure your hens are getting enough protein. Most commercial feeds have plenty of protein. If you are mixing your own feed, you can add protein supplements in such as sunflower seeds, cooked eggs, and yogurt.
Are Your Chickens Bored Or Stressed?
Bored animals tend to get into trouble. If your flock is penned up all day, you need to add some boredom busters for them. These could include scratch grains, fresh fodder, a chicken swing, dust baths, and plenty of branches and logs to jump around.
Also make sure your chickens have enough personal space. Nobody likes a space invader!
Stressed birds will also peck at their own eggs. Make sure you have plenty of nest boxes for your flock, and the nests are a quiet, relaxing place. Use plenty of straw in nest boxes to prevent accidental breakage. If you use a lamp to extend daylight, make sure it’s far away from nests. If you have a broody hen hogging all the nesting space, relocate her or break her of her broodiness.
Sometimes the pecking order gets out of whack, and one or two hens start bullying the others and chasing them away from food and water. This can be very stressful on the other birds. If you notice this happening, put out two feeders and waterers so they can get plenty to eat and drink.
When They Just Won’t Stop
If none of the above tips worked, you may have to do a little behavior training with your hens. Don’t worry! It’s nothing too scary. First, make sure you’re collecting eggs frequently and early. You need to be getting those eggs away from the hens before they have a chance to start pecking at them. This will help them forget about their egg eating behavior.
Second, place ceramic eggs or golf balls in your nest boxes. Not only do these encourage your hens to nest in their nest box, but it also helps the egg eating behavior fade away by removing the positive reinforcement. They peck at the egg and nothing happens, which means they’re less likely to keep trying.
Once you make sure to implement all the above suggestions, it won’t be long before your chickens forget all about eating their own eggs, and instead move on to some other adorable habit, like dust bathing or looking cute!
Want To Raise Happy Chickens?
Subscribe for our newsletter and get the free email course Intro To Backyard Chickens as well as a free printable checklist to walk you through step by step!