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Egg Eating

By Alan Stanford, Ph.D.
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Egg eating is very difficult to stop. There are many reasons chickens eat their eggs. Some reasons are stress, poor nutrition, boredom, and a coopmate that lays soft shelled eggs. Stress can be health stress (worms, lice, mites, disease, heat, cold), it can be social stress (aggressive coop mates, over crowding, unruly neighbors), and it can be fright (predators near the coop, predators sounding in the distance, predators flying overhead, new surroundings).

We had no success filling eggs with all sorts of bad flavors including "No Pick" lotion.

The best results we have had were to trim the beaks as short as possible at least every week, supply nest boxes in locations the hens like, collect eggs very often, and fill the area and nest boxes with fake wooden eggs and used golf balls. It also helps to place the nest boxes in a dark area or cover the entrance to the nest box with a cloth.

Good nutrition and a healthy environment are important for all chickens. Feed a good layer ration, always provide crushed oyster shell, keep the water clean, and provide green leafy vegetables. The vegetables and oyster shell provide calcium. The leafy vegetables also entertain the flock. Scratch grains, in moderation and with grit, are good.

To avoid stress, make sure the coops are large enough and provide good shelter from wind, sun, and rain. Coops near aggressive neighbor birds are stressful. Heat, cold, introducing new birds, and other changes in the environment are also stressful.

Provide a variety of toys and treats to prevent boredom and to exercise the chickens' natural desire to peck. Give them scratch grains, day old bread, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, or watermelon slices (especially the rinds). Plastic food containers with the lids make good drums for the birds. We hang a mesh bag on a string and the flock plays tether lettuce. Keep changing what you provide; they tire of the same old routine.

If they eat the eggs because they are soft shelled, you need to correct the soft shell problem. Soft shells are often caused by stress.

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