Such a frustrating problem! Once a chicken begins eating eggs, it’s a difficult behavior to break. It usually starts innocent enough. An egg accidentally gets broken and a curious chicken gives it a try and finds that it has discovered a delicious new source of food. It soon learns that as eggs are laid, a couple of pecks is all it takes to reach that delicious center!
A persistent chicken will leave you with messy, sticky egg boxes and an empty egg basket.
It’s not just the taste factor that draws a chicken to eat broken eggs, there is also an instinctual factor that drives a chicken to this habit. In the wild, a broken egg would smell, drawing predators to the odor and to a hen’s clutch of eggs. The hen eats the egg to “hide the evidence” so to speak. It also happens to be a nutritionally perfect food for a chicken; full of protein and calcium.
Not enough protein in the diet- Chickens need a complete protein in their diet.
Calcium deficiency- oyster shell provides a great source of calcium.
Territorial broodiness- we’ve had territorial hens break other chickens eggs
Accidental egg break- provide soft bedding in the egg boxes and use an egg basket to safely carry eggs back to the house.
Not enough space in the coop- make sure your chickens have enough room so that they’re not using the egg laying space as part of their day-today living quarters.
If you feed excess eggs back to your chickens they should be cooked or mixed with other food items so that they no longer resemble a raw egg.
Same goes for the shell. If you feed your chickens eggshells to increase calcium in their diet, make sure the shells are dried of liquid white and yolk and crushed enough to make them notably different from an egg shell in the coop. You don’t want the chicken to identify the shells and recognize them as something they’d find in an egg box.
Collect eggs at least once a day this will prevent them from piling up and getting stepped on.
If you accidentally drop an egg and it cracks, pick it up immediately, shoo chickens away from trying to gobble up the egg. Scoop up every last bit of egg and mix the bedding around to hide any trace.
Make sure your chickens get a rich diet with correctly balanced proteins. Too much scratch grain (an incomplete protein) can encourage egg eating, feather plucking and in extreme cases cannibalism.
Separate the hen from the rest of the flock. This way she’ll only have her own eggs to eat.
Check her several times a day and if possible try to collect her egg as soon as she lays it. Sometimes this is impossible, but chickens get on a schedule and will lay at relatively the same time each day.
Make sure she’s getting a high protein feed and a calcium supplement.
Sometimes leaving porcelain or wooden eggs in the nest boxes discourages egg breaking because they learn that no matter how hard they peck, they can’t break the egg “shell”
Sometimes it just takes time and diligent egg collection.
If you’re willing to sacrifice eggs until autumn, many times over the winter break they forget the habit and it doesn’t resume the following spring.
Have you ever had a hen with an egg eating problem? How did you cure it? Share your tips by leaving a comment below, or visit the Community Chickens Facebook Page.