Egg-eating is one of the most annoying and frustrating habits your chickens can have. Anyone who has gone out to collect their fresh eggs, only to find the chickens have smashed them to pieces and eaten them can definitely sympathise with this issue!
There are a number of reasons why chickens choose to nibble at their own eggs:
Boredom – if chickens are feeling restless, they may peck at their own eggs just for something new to do if they are left sitting in the nesting box. Once they’re broken open, there’s a good chance they could eat the egg and develop the nasty habit.
Lack of Nutrition
Chickens can sense when they’re deficient in something. If they’re lacking in calcium or protein, the chickens will seek out a new food source to quell this deficiency, and unfortunately eggs are often in the firing line.
Stress or Nervousness
If your chicken are jostling for space, or even get startled often, this can result in the accidental breakage of an egg. Chickens can be curious creatures, so if they investigate the spillage by pecking at it, this can form an egg-eating habit.
Overly Bright Nesting Boxes
Your chickens need dark, secure locations away from other chickens to lay their eggs, so if the nesting box is exposed or has bright light shining on it, then the chickens can become nervous and skittish, and peck at their own eggs.
There are measures you can implement to save your eggs, and try to break the habit of the hens (very important, as one hen can influence the whole flock to start!)
Make sure all hens have a spacious nesting box that’s dark and private. Usually, it’s good to have one box per 4 hens as they don’t all lay at the same time.
Collect eggs multiple times a day – to get your hands on them before the hens do.Make sure your feed contains enough protein and calcium to satisfy the chickens requirements (shell grit is a great source to add to their feed).
Replace the eggs with ‘decoys’ – put golf balls, wooden eggs, plastic eggs or other objects into the nesting boxes so they can peck at something else.
Worst case scenario, you might have to separate the naughty chicken from the rest of the flock until all your other feathered friends have finished laying their eggs.