Chickens are known for their delicious eggs, but what happens when they start eating their own eggs? Learn the most effective ways to stop egg-eating in your flock.
Have you ever walked out to the chicken coop to check for eggs, but there are no eggs to be found?
Or perhaps you notice a weird smell in the coop, or see a gooey yellow matter on the bedding or floor of the coop. There may even be remnants of eggs shells left behind.
These are all signs that chickens may be eating the eggs before you get to them!
Recently, we noticed that our flock was producing less than expected. When I investigated, I noticed signs of broken eggs in the coop. There was a bit of runny yolk stuck to some of the bedding. I also found a partial eggshell.
Now I knew that my chickens were eating some of their eggs.
Over the years, eggs would get broken accidentally from time to time, but it didn’t seem to be purposeful. This time I watched my flock for a couple weeks and noticed that the egg eating had become a thing.
Sorry ladies, but there are no free rides here!
Why Do My Chickens Keep Eating Their Eggs?
There are a few reasons that chickens may eat their eggs:
- Boredom – If chickens are kept confined, they may start looking for things to do and to eat. A few curious pecks at an egg might break it, and then they discover the yummy food inside and it’s all over.
- Nutritional Deficiencies – Eggs are a good source of protein and calcium, so if your chickens aren’t getting enough of these nutrients in their diet, they may look to alternative sources. This is also another common cause for feather picking.
- Broken Eggs – Sometimes chickens accidentally break an egg by sitting on it too roughly. Eggs can also break if they land wrong when a chicken lays them. Once an egg is broken, chickens will almost always “clean it up” by themselves. Unfortunately, this can give them a taste for eggs!
- Imitation – If one chicken sees another eating an egg, they may join in this behavior.
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How To Stop Chickens From Eating Eggs
Here are some of the most common and effective ways to stop chickens from eating eggs:
- Check for Eggs Often – The easiest way to stop chickens from eating their eggs is to get to the eggs before they do. We check our coop a couple times a day to remove any eggs.
- Place a Decoy Egg in the Nesting Box – This is often a suggestion given for encouraging young hens to start laying eggs. When they see the decoy, they instinctively know what to do. However this can also be helpful for stopping negative behaviors like egg-eating. When a chicken tries to peck the fake egg, it doesn’t break. Eventually they stop trying. Golf balls or wooden eggs both work well. Check out more decoy eggs (like the ones we used below) here on Amazon.
- Feed More Protein – Generally, layer feed is formulated with just the right amount of nutrients, including protein. However, there are some times when chickens need more protein, such as molting season. During those times, we feed extra protein, such as dried mealworms.
- Give Chickens Something Else To Do – Free ranging chickens may be less likely to break eggs, as they are outside of the coop most of the day. Adding logs or perches inside the run can provide things for chickens to explore, rather than resorting to destructive behavior.
- Separate Egg-Eating Chickens – If you know who the culprit is, you can separate them so the others do not pick up on the behavior. This may not be practical for everyone, so I’ll share what we did below.
What Worked For Us
It was my husband who created a plan for outsmarting our chickens and getting to their eggs first. He noticed that we had gotten into the habit of feeding the chickens later in the day. He guessed that since they weren’t getting their mealworms and scraps in the morning, they started going for the eggs instead.
Our chickens always have layer feed available, but we started feeding mealworms and leftover fruits and veggies in the morning instead of the afternoon. Then we checked the nesting boxes more often throughout the day, instead of once in the evening.
So far, so good! There has been no more evidence of broken eggs in the coop.
Chickens are smart, but we are smarter!
More Tips For Raising Backyard Chickens:
- Guide to Raising Baby Chicks
- What is Pasty Butt in Baby Chicks?
- When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
- How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs
- How Cold is Too Cold for Chickens to be Outside?
- Farm Fresh Eggs 101
- How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Heat
- How to Keep Snakes Out of a Chicken Coop
- What Is Bumblefoot in Chickens?
- What is Fowl Pox and How To Prevent It