Chickens eating their eggs

Lee opened the door of the chicken coop and caught some of our hens doing a dastardly deed in the hen house. As he opened the door about half the hens came jumping out of the coop saying “yeah freedom!” while the other half were running around eating an egg that was on the floor. Lee thought that it had just happened.

Sigh.

I have never seen any evidence that our hens have eaten their eggs before. The nesting boxes are always clean looking. Now a few weeks ago I found an egg on the floor of the coop, but I just thought it was due to one of the favorite nesting boxes being in use. We have four nesting boxes for our eleven hens and quite routinely I will find 6 eggs in one nesting box. It’s a very special nesting box that is quite beloved by our hens. Don’t ask me why. Two of the nesting boxes are favorites while the other two lesser loved ones go empty quite often.

I had been scanning the floor of the hen house since I found that first egg but I had never found another one. So I chalked it up to a “bird brained” fluke. As much as I love my hens, I am well aware that there is a reason for that expression.

Hopefully we can break the cycle now. If not, there is going to be some chicken dinner in our future. I am going to put a few golf balls in the coop so any future egg pecking will result in sore beaks (okay not really) and no yummy egg stuff rendered. We are going to put an oyster shell feeding station in so if they are lacking any calcium they can get it that way. Finally, I am going to start collecting eggs more than once a day. Otherwise we seem to be doing everything already that articles suggest in how to break the egg eating cycle.

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7 Responses to Chickens eating their eggs

  1. Lynn says:

    Oh no! I’ve heard this is a bad thing!! Maybe it just broke accidentally and someone tasted it, and once one bird pecks, they all do…

    We have 9 nest boxes for our 13 hens, and I don’t think it’s enough. There are 3 rows of 3 nests. The birds dont use the lower 3 nest boxes ever. They only like the upper 6 – and the top 3 are the chosen nest boxes. We try to collect eggs more than once a day, but we can only do what we can do. Also we have 1 VERY broody hen that ALWAYS is in a nest box (one Sat I threw her outside of the coop 12 times!), and possibly several other hens are getting broody. So these birds hog nests.

    Anyway, good luck breaking this bad habit!!! Keep us informed, I’m sure I may eventually have this issue one day, too!
    ~Lynn

  2. Leigh says:

    Ooo, this is bad news indeed. Something every keeper of chickens dreads happening. I truly hope you can prevent this from becoming a habit.

    We inherited a box of golf balls with our place. I’d read elsewhere to put golf balls in the nests so pullets get the idea that nests are where eggs go. I will heed the rest of the advice as well.

  3. Ron says:

    I found a few golf balls at a garage sale last year, so I stuck them in there. It seemed to help with the hens that found great pleasure in hiding their eggs all over the place… I still suspect a couple are hiding them, supporting the local wildlife at my expense…

    Never had egg eaters… yet… but I’ve caught all manner of other critters in there… 6′ long black rat snakes, rats, and squirrels. Our solution was to pay our daughter to collect the eggs frequently. ­čÖé

    Ron

  4. Benita says:

    Well, this is a new one to me, and I grew up on a farm with chickens, ducks, geese, cows, and the occassional pig. I hope you find out the instigator and she tastes good roasted.

  5. john gray says:

    you probably only have one eggs eater…..(well egg breaker)

    blow an egg…..and carfully fill it with some scrambled egg mixed with chillie powder!
    that may stop the culprit!!!
    best wishes
    john
    (wales)

  6. lee says:

    Wow, so many responses!

    Lynn – We’re hoping one of them just accidentally broke the egg, and it won’t become an intentional habit. My in-laws suggested adding more boxes, and we asked how would we be sure that a new box would be a beloved one instead of a hated one. Right now they have 4 boxes for 11 birds. The chicken book suggests one per 4 or 5 I think, and over at Trapper Creek she suggests one for every 10 (although she runs a much larger flock than us). I think the point is that there should always be a box available when needed, and that’s definitely the case in our coop.

    Leigh – Your comment makes me think we should probably take that golf ball off the floor. Robin thought it would discourage egg pecking for an egg on the floor, but we really need to discourage eggs being laid there. Only 3 or 4 have ever been laid on the floor, but two in the last week for unknown reasons and the second one got eaten.

    Ron – Wow, yeah, now we definitely can’t move to Missouri. Robin is creeped out by our plentiful Garter snakes. She wouldn’t do well with 5′ snakes around. We’ve been fortunate so far to not have any predators hit our chicken coop.

    Benita – You must have had well behaved farm animals growing up. I remember reading an article by a city guy who tried to raise all his food for one month, and he ended up in a battle of wits with a hen that was determined to eat all her eggs. Even the sloped bottom cage didn’t stop her.

    John – Wow, I would bet the chickens wouldn’t want to repeat that experience. We’ll continue to monitor for any signs of egg eating, and add this to our list of possible remedies.

  7. john grauer says:

    We went on a garden tour Sunday where the owner had a small chicken coop. After a few minutes, a riot erupted as one hen or cock stuck his head in the nesting box and broke open an egg as all of the others 10 chickens gathered around in a very agitated state. Finally, the guilty party got the broken egg out of the box and ran around the coop chased by several others who finally dislodged the egg and participated in the meal.
    If I recall correctly, my grandfather placed a porcelain like egg in the nesting boxes on occasion, but I always thought it was to fool the nesting hen–not to prenent others pecking at the egg. Maybe the golf balls work, but where are all of the porcelain eggs? In the antique shops?
    jjg

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