Well, it has finally happened to me. One of my chickens has been eating the eggs! And how do I know this? The little sneak thought I wouldn’t see the yellow egg yolk on top of her small white head, but I did! She hasn’t eaten the eggs only once, but multiple times. Once, my husband gathered two eggs in the morning, but left them outside the coop and forgot to come back to get them until later in the day. When he came back for them, he discovered they were gone. But I also had a white chicken who escaped the coop that day. So who do you think the culprit was? (hint, it wasn’t my husband.) The moral of the story is…how do you stop a chicken from eating eggs?
Firstly, a chicken eating eggs is a horrible habit. Once they get the taste of an egg, it’s all over. We all know that eating farm fresh eggs is a wonderful thing, but I don’t want my chickens to be eating my eggs. I want to gather my eggs and either eat them myself, or make a profit by selling the eggs so that the chicken-raising costs are subsidized. Eggs that get eaten by chickens = lost profit.
Why do chickens eat their own eggs?
The main reason why chicken eat their own eggs is because they are low on protein. As we all know, a chicken is protein. So, a chicken must consume enough protein in order to be productive. How do you fix this? Ensure that the chicken’s feed contains at least 16% protein by checking the ingredients on the label before purchasing. You can also supplement a chicken’s diet by giving them milk, yogurt, or sunflower seeds.
Remember that chickens who get the taste for raw eggs generally want them again. So you must provide a deterrent to keep chickens from becoming a serial egg killer.
Rule number one:
Don’t feed chickens raw eggs. If you are going to give your chickens eggs, make sure that they are cooked through. Boiled, fried, or scrambled eggs are fine to feed to your chickens. You just don’t want chickens to get the craving for raw eggs.
Rule number two:
Add extra calcium to the chicken’s diet. This can be supplemented through the chicken’s feed. As another additive, you can purchase calcium powder or oyster shells, which are usually sold at your local farm store. You can also reuse your own eggshells and feed them back to the chickens. Lastly, you can ferment your own chicken feed, which helps to release additional calcium from the chicken feed.
Increasing the calcium in chicken feed helps to create strong eggshells. Stronger eggshells means that the eggshells will not break as easily, helping to deter eager little beaks looking for a quick snack. If an eggshell does happen to break in the coop, clean it up quickly before a chicken can get to it.
Tips to Stop a Chicken from Eating Eggs
Use ‘Dummy’ Eggs
I bet when you first got chickens, you used a fake egg in the nesting box to show the chickens where they should be laying their eggs. If your chicken is eating eggs, use these again! They make ceramic nest eggs, which are very hard and not pleasant for the pecking chicken.
You can also use golf balls in the nesting boxes, but my chickens “know” that these are not real eggs. My chickens won’t even lay eggs in the nesting boxes that have the golf balls. It’s up to you, your chickens may not know the difference. Mine figured it out a little too quickly that the golf balls were egg impostors. However, this trick has worked for others very well.
Collect Eggs Often
Collecting eggs often will stop enabling an egg eater from having too much time on its hands and enjoying a late brunch. If you have the time and opportunity, try to collect the eggs 2-3 times a day. Personally, my husband and I work during the day, so usually this is not a feasible option for me, but maybe it is for you.
Prepare or Modify the Nesting Boxes
Ensure that the nesting boxes have enough bedding in them to prevent any eggs that are laid from breaking. Soft bedding will cushion the fall of an egg, or just the eggs that are being stepped on or rolled around by the chickens while attempting to get comfy in the nesting box. Did you also know that bedding is a serious thing for chickens? Having bedding that is too bright, too big, or improperly lined can cause an upset in the hierarchy of chickens. Which leads to my next point:
In addition, you can keep the nesting boxes darkened by providing the boxes with curtains. This will give the chicken privacy while doing her thing, while also keeping her or other nosy chickens from finding the eggs that are laid. As you may know, chickens can’t see in the dark.
Lastly, you could modify the nesting boxes to be at a slant. The slant would cause any egg that is laid to roll away immediately out of sight of the chicken. Out of sight, out of mind.
Give the Egg Eating Chicken Mustard
When I heard about this, I thought, “what a great idea!” Chickens generally do not like the taste of mustard. Take an empty egg (or blow out an egg), and fill it with mustard. Leave the mustard-filled egg in the coop for the unwitting chicken eater to find. A taste of mustard should keep her from coming back for more. If mustard doesn’t work, try hot sauce or ground pepper.
Make Sure Chickens are Not Bored
Bored chickens create egg-eating chickens. Agh! Do you mean that I need to entertain my chickens?! Yes, that’s exactly what I mean! Perhaps you have chickens that are used to free-ranging and now are kept confined to the run. The chickens may be taking their frustration out on the eggs. Maybe you have an older chicken who has stopped laying. She’s probably bored. Give the chickens treats and barnyard toys to keep busy.
Reduce the Light in the Coop
A chicken eating its’ eggs may be because there is too much light in the coop. Artificial light can throw off a chicken’s natural cycle. I do not recommend putting artificial light in the coop at all, even during winter. The chickens should wake up with the sun and put themselves to bed at dusk naturally. Irregular light can cause a chicken to act out and one way of acting out can be by eating eggs.
In exploring ways to stop a chicken from eating eggs, there are several things that you can do to help to combat this problem. Use dummy eggs, collect eggs often, modify nesting boxes, give the chickens mustard, and reducing chicken boredom and lighting in the coop are all viable solutions to stop an egg eating problem. The hope is that one of these ways will stop an egg eating chicken. If not, there is one last solution (that I hate!) which is to cull the offender. You don’t want the egg eating to spread to the rest of your flock and then have an epidemic on your hands. But by all means, try the less invasive tips first and let culling be a last resort.