If your chickens are eating their own eggs, you need to break this habit immediately. The longer they do it, the harder it becomes to fix. Nip this bad habit in the bud with a few tweaks to the hens' nest boxes and living situation.
Prevent Egg-Eating by Reducing Egg Breakage
Egg breakage is one of the main reasons hens begin eating eggs. Reducing or eliminating egg breakage minimizes the chances your hens will get a taste for raw egg. Here are some tips to prevent breakage:
- Provide at least one 1-by-1-foot nest for every four or five hens in the flock and never fewer than six nesting boxes. Position nesting boxes at least 2 feet off the ground and at least 4 feet from the roosts.
- Keep at least 2 inches of clean, dry nesting material (shavings or straw) in the nest boxes at all times.
- Relocate any broody hens (hens that have decided to sit on and incubate eggs), which can cause congestion in the nesting boxes.
- Feed your chickens a complete feed specifically designed for laying hens.
- Keep eggshells strong by feeding the hens a calcium supplement—usually sold as oyster shells—in a free-choice feeder. If you feed hens eggshells for calcium, smash them to a powder so the chickens don't associate them with eggs.
- Collect eggs early in the day. This leaves less time for breakage and egg-eating. Most hens are finished laying eggs by 10 a.m.
Breaking the Egg-Eating Habit
Following the egg-breakage prevention methods might be all it takes to stop your hens from eating eggs. For ingrained egg-eating habits, you also might need to take steps to lower stress, including:
- Avoid bright lighting near the nesting boxes.
- Don't disturb hens in the nests.
- Make sure you have enough space for each hen in the coop.
- Keep fresh feed and water available at all times.
- Set up a second feeding station if one hen is bullying the others by guarding a single feeding station.
- If possible, provide hens with space outdoors to roam or at least a run with fresh grass and insects.
Extreme Cures for Egg-Eating Hens
If you have a hen who is determined to eat eggs despite all these tips, there are a few extreme measures you can take:
- Use roll-away nesting boxes. When a hen lays an egg in one of these boxes, the egg rolls out of the nesting box, and the hen can't reach it.
- Place golf balls in the nests. In theory, the hens will tire of pecking at these faux eggs, which can help to break their habit of pecking actual eggs.
- Fill an eggshell with mustard, which chickens hate. Make a small hole at each end of an egg, and blow out the contents. Then, squeeze yellow mustard inside the empty shell, and place the mustard-filled egg in the nesting box.