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Why chickens eat their eggs and how to prevent them
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Why chickens eat their eggs and how to prevent them

Egg eating is one of the most frustrating and annoying habits your chicken could pick up. Any chicken keeper that goes out to collect eggs and only finds half-eaten eggs definitely knows how you feel.

So why do chickens eat their own eggs?!

There can be a number of reasons why chickens may choose to nibble and peck at their own eggs. Some of these reasons are

  • Lack of nutrition

Chickens have the ability to sense if they have a deficiency and will seak out new foods accordingly. Unfortunately, eggs are often in the firing line due to being a great source of both protein and calcium.

  • Stress or nervousness

If your chickens get startled often or need to fight for space, it can result in accidental breakage of eggs. These eggs then draw curious chickens to investigate the spillage by pecking at it. Pecking at raw eggs can, unfortunately, lead to this nasty habit. 

  • Overly bright nesting boxes

Chickens need a dark, secure location away from other chickens to lay their eggs. It often happens that chickens get nervous and skittish if the nesting boxes are exposed or in bright light which can lead them to peck at their own eggs. 

  • Boredom 

If your chickens are confined without anything to entertain them, they may peck at their eggs just for something to do. Pecking at an egg may start as curiosity, but once the egg is broken open, they may find it delicious and form a habit of eating freshly laid eggs. 

Who’s doing it?

If you have a large flock, there are signs to look out for when seeking out the guilty party when it comes to egg pecking. You will need to make sure that it is in fact a chicken and not a predator getting into the coop. It is best to predator proof your coop with wire mesh flooring and sensor lights to keep most hungry critters out. 

What you can do to find the guilty chicken:

  • Monitor the egg boxes during laying time. Chickens with a bad habit will hang around waiting for fresh eggs to peck at.
  • If you look at your chickens closely, you should be able to find signs of yellow yolk on the beak and feathers of the guilty chicken. 
  • Take note of which chicken nests were and look for broken shells and other evidence at the bottom of the nesting box. The same chicken will usually use the same nesting box.

How To Stop It

If your chickens have unfortunately picked up this nasty habit, there are a few things you can try to discourage them. Here are some tips for stopping egg-eating:

  • Make sure your hens have access to spacious nesting boxes in a dark, quiet area. It is usually good to have one box per every 4 hens since they like sharing and don’t often lay all at the same time. 
  • Collect eggs multiple times per day. Removing the temptation should help them to direct their curiosity elsewhere 
  • Feed them high protein food with extra shell grit for calcium in case any deficiencies exist.
  • Replace eggs with decoy eggs like golf balls or wooden eggs to discourage pecking since nothing will happen if they peck at these. 
  • If nothing works, you might have to separate naughty chickens from the rest of the flock until they break their egg-eating habit. 

It is always better to prevent first, so make sure your chickens have a spacious coop, access to a run or the rest of your garden for free-ranging and lots to entertain them. Look for our article on boredom to find ways to entertain your chickens without them having to find a way to do it themselves. Egg eating can be a sign of an underlying medical condition so make sure to mention it to your vet. 

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