If your chickens are eating their own eggs, you need to break this habit as soon as possible. The longer they do it, the harder it becomes to fix. Especially if they teach their friends to do it too! Egg-eating is one of the most annoying and frustrating habits your chickens can have.
Start with assessing your chooks diet.
Chickens eating eggs could be a sign that they are experiencing a nutritional deficiency or imbalance. Eggs are loaded with protein, and the shells are made up of almost pure calcium. These two things are essential to a chicken’s diet and overall good health. If chickens aren’t getting enough of either, they may turn to eating their own eggs to compensate.
Ensure your chickens are consuming adequate protein by providing a chicken feed that is formulated for laying hens. Most layer feed contains 16 to 18% percent protein. Incorporate protein-rich treats such as mealworms, sunflower seeds, dried soldier fly larvae with any scraps you feed.
Laying hens need a regular supply of calcium available to them at all times. This is crucial! Because eggshells are so high in calcium themselves, laying hens need to consume a substantial amount of supplemental calcium to lay hard, healthy eggs with firm shells. This can either be in the form of shell grit, liquid calcium, or our calci-protein natural blend.
Next, the nesting boxes.
Make sure you are providing enough nesting boxes. There should be a minimum of one nest box for every four hens. Too few boxes mean that everyone will use the same boxes and eggs may get damaged by treading, rolling etc. If they break open- a hen is going to eat the contents.
Chickens need dark, secure locations away from other chickens to lay their eggs, so if the nesting box is exposed or has a bright light shining on it, then the chickens can become nervous and skittish, and peck at their own eggs.
Rollaway nest boxes are also a great solution – after the hen lays, the egg rolls away to a covered part of the nesting box which your hens can’t access!
Make sure to collect eggs often. Don’t let eggs sit in the nesting boxes for an extended period of time. Collect eggs as often as you can(up to several times per day) – especially if you’re trying to break egg-eating behaviour that has already developed.
Boredom can also be an issue.
Keeping your flock happy and entertained is a fantastic way to both prevent and stop chickens from eating eggs. Bored, crowded, or otherwise unhappy birds are far more likely to start pecking at eggs – and each other. Provide roosts, ample space, and boredom busters such as hanging vege baskets, treat roller toys, scratch mix etc. (don’t forget to check out our chicken boredom busters article!)
If all else fails, you can try tricking them!
Firstly, try dummy eggs. These are weighted eggs in either plastic or ceramic. When they go to take a peck, they’ll find the “egg” impenetrable – and will hopefully give up trying to peck the real eggs too. Placing fake eggs inside the nesting box is also an effective way to train young chickens on where to lay eggs.
Apparently, chickens hate the taste of mustard. Plus, who would want to eat soap? Not our birds. Another old trick used to stop chickens from eating eggs is to fill an empty eggshell with dish soap and mustard (which also happens to mimic the look of gooey egg whites and yolk).
Use an egg that has been pecked with a small hole, empty it out, fill it up, and put it back in the nesting box for your egg-eating chicken to try. Or, carefully blow out an egg to fill. Hopefully, the nasty surprise will turn them off for good!
All in all, do your best to prevent your chickens from eating eggs in the first place – with a healthy diet, frequent egg gathering, and ample space to play.