Story and photos by Lori Leigh
Although chickens can be very entertaining, they can also be complex, and dare I say…frustrating. For example, why, oh why do chickens break open eggs and eat them? Mmm hmm…complex to understand and frustrating to stop. Fresh eggs are one of the main reasons many people decide to raise chickens in the first place. When the egg count is down due to egg eaters, it makes this pesky habit even more frustrating.
The first time I saw pieces of an egg shell and yolk inside one of the nesting boxes, I thought to myself, “certainly it was an accident“. I cleaned it up and didn’t give much thought to it. But then! Yep, it happened again. After doing some research, I admit that I have implemented many of the following techniques. These options can be used to help stop your chickens from eating eggs and may help prevent the habit from resurfacing.
COLLECT THE EGGS MORE FREQUENTLY
Sounds easy enough, right? Collect the eggs frequently throughout the day so the chickens don’t get the urge or opportunity to eat them. For some chicken keepers, this just isn’t possible. Enlist the help from family or friends if you can.
GOLF BALL OR WOODEN EGG
I was already using a golf ball as a way to help induce the chickens to lay eggs. First when they started laying eggs, and later to train the hens to lay in certain nesting boxes. The thought behind a golf ball (or wooden egg) is that it looks like an egg. The theory of it helping to stop the act of egg eaters is that the chickens will peck at it, thinking it is an egg. After being unsuccessful, she will eventually give up.
KEEP THE SHELLS STRONG
Because a thin shell is more easy to break open, it’s important to strive for hard shells. Adding extra calcium to the chicken’s diet can help with this. Oyster shells are a great way to add extra calcium. You can usually find oyster shells right beside chicken food at your local feed store.
A MUSTARD FILLED EGG
I found different reviews on this method. After two instances of my chickens eating the mustard filled egg, I fell into the category of “no, it doesn’t work“. That said, I still think this is an option you should attempt yourself. Everyone’s situation is different and what doesn’t work for one may work for someone else. Read How To Blow Out An Egg to get started.
FLUFFED NESTING BOXES
Make sure that the nesting boxes have plenty of fluff (coop bedding material). When the hen lays an egg, you want it to have a fluffy area to land in, so it doesn’t easily crack open. A cracked open egg will surely tempt the hens.
Give your chickens plenty to do and peck at. A bored chicken may simply look for things to peck at, including an egg. You can add hanging vegetables or suet cakes as a way of offering inexpensive entertainment to your flock.
The last option is to cull the egg eater. This means that you must know which chicken is the egg eater. Some feel this is cruel, while others view it as a necessary action, before the bad habit spreads throughout the flock. This is a personal decision that each chicken owner must make on their own.
Have you had success with breaking an egg eating chicken with one of these techniques or something else? Share with us what worked for you.