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Today’s post is about a terrible habit that can afflict our backyard birds. And one that’s difficult to break, that can also become almost infectious. It’s about egg eating in chickens. And if the birds leave any evidence, it gets all over the place, producing a sticky, dirty mess. We’re also going to come up with how to stop chickens from eating their own eggs. But first we’ll cover why they do it.
Reasons Why Chickens Will Eat Their Own Eggs
So why does it happen? Well, let’s assume for the moment that you’ve done your homework, (which I’ll go over momentarily). And you still wind up with missing eggs or egg-eaters. I think the number one culprit is that an egg will accidentally get broken. And voila! Now there’s egg shell and egg yolk on the ground or in the nest. Chickens are naturally curious. They check out the ooey gooeyiness. And once the birds determine that the yellow gold inside is edible, they’re instantly hooked.
Now, how would an egg accidentally break? Because that’s important. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes you can prevent egg breakages.
Ways Eggs Will Break
Eggs can accidentally break due to thin shells, either caused by a hereditary defect or nutritional deficiency. If the chicken eggs are breaking due to thin shells, try putting out some oyster shell for your birds.
Now we’re going to discuss other reasons why chickens will eat eggs.
Explanations Why Backyard Birds Eat Their Eggs
- Not collecting eggs enough times during the day. If you’re experiencing egg-eating with your chickens, try collecting the eggs more often throughout the day. The longer the eggs sit outside with the birds, the more opportunity the birds will have to peck and possibly eat them.
- Not enough nesting boxes. Ideally, provide 1 nesting box per 4 hens. Because, if there aren’t enough boxes, the hens will crowd into the same box, and break eggs.
- Provide plenty of soft nesting material in the nesting boxes. If the material is squished down and flattened, the eggs could get broken. So make sure to change nesting material as needed.
- Make sure the coop is dark where the birds lay eggs. Because, hens prefer laying eggs in the dark. So, to discourage non-laying actions in the coop, organize the nesting boxes along the inner-most wall, where it’s darkest. You can also add curtains to nesting boxes. And remove artificial light, if you have it.
- Feeding eggs and eggshells. There are many sources that say you can give your birds eggshells. However, if you do that, make sure that the eggshells are ground up. Because, birds have good and long memories. And if you don’t, they’ll figure out where you got the eggshells from. If you feed your birds eggs, cook them first, so it doesn’t resemble what’s in a broken egg.
- Dehydration is another possible cause of egg eating. The thought is that if a chicken is dehydrated, it will get what it needs from the eggs. So, be certain to provide fresh, clean water daily.
Now that we’ve covered the reasons why they do what they do, let’s go over how to stop chickens from eating their own eggs.
How To Stop Chickens From Eating Their Own Eggs
You might have done all of the above suggestions. And still you have egg eaters. I have read recommendations for culling the egg-eating hen. What do you do if you have several birds that are eating eggs? Even after you’ve done the above suggestions? Do you kill all of the egg eaters?
Some people recommend trimming their beaks. And if you have a steady hand, that might be a good idea.
But when we had several hens eating eggs, even after we started collecting eggs more often, I didn’t want to get rid of all of the hens I loved. They would lay an egg, and then eat it. So I found Pinless Peepers. I’ve mentioned them before. They act as blinders, and they prevent bullying and cannibalism. And egg eating.
So I ordered them. And once they arrived, we caught the chickens, and put them on their beaks. It wasn’t easy. And the birds absolutely didn’t like them. Most, if not all, of the hens had one on. I think my rooster was the only chicken not sporting a Pinless Peeper. Because he was the only one who wasn’t eating eggs.
It didn’t take long for those blinders to do their work. All of the hens hated them so much and wanted them off so badly. I think we left them on for 2 weeks. But when we removed them, each bird was a new convert.
After using the Pinless Peepers, we ended up having only 2 unreformed egg eaters. One hen of which we gave away to someone who had a lonely rooster. And the other hen died, but not directly as a result of us. Although, we had discussed it.