One of the major issues you might face in your chicken farming business is your chickens eating their eggs. This will reduce the number of eggs you collect thus affecting your bottom line.
The habit of chickens eating eggs is caused by several reasons. Once you identify reasons your chickens might eat your eggs, you need to put in place all measures to prevent it. It can spread very fast within your flock.
If your chickens start eating eggs, then you will need to stop it. If left unattended, it will result in losses in your poultry venture.
One of our readers has been facing an issue with their eggs. Sometimes they go completely missing. Vanished. Nothing left. I immediately got hold of my “Chicken Crime 101” notes and swung into detective mode. First question.
“Mum, do you think that an enemy, eh predator could have broken in the chicken coops”
“No. My chicken coop is an impenetrable bunker”, She responded.
“Well then, let us look at other clues”, I murmured as a ticked off “Check for any signs of predators” off my old “Chicken Crime 101” checklist.
Back at the Directorate of Chicken Investigations (DCI) Training School, they taught us one important thing on Chicken Crimes. Think like a chicken.
What would a chicken do? In most cases of a predator attack, the chicken would have made noise, unless the chicken and the Unsub (Unknown Subject) are friends. This is very rare. My cat, Mimo, is friendly to chicken, but would never eat chicken or eggs. Only eats cooked food. And he never cooks.
I then asked her about the age of the chicken and other related questions. I was trying to confirm if the chickens were laying any eggs.
You see sometimes there will be a decrease in the number of eggs, as chickens take a break from laying. Their bodies focus on other important issues, for instance, molting, where chickens will stop laying for a while while the old feathers grow and new ones emerge. Out with the old, in with the new.
Other reasons why chicken may stop laying eggs or lay fewer eggs are nutritional imbalance, decreased hours of lighting, diseases, and parasites, old age, and maybe the breed you have was not created to lay a lot of eggs.
How to tell if chickens are eating eggs
Back to our reader's case. Let us look at how to tell if your chickens are the ones eating eggs.
There are several ways to tell if your chicken is eating eggs. The signs below will be tell-tell signs that one of your own is the culprit
- No eggs
Eggs disappear completely. Without a trace. You will need first to eliminate the possibility of predators. If you are keeping chicken under the free-range system, you will need to confirm that your cute birds are not hiding the eggs.
- No evidence of eaten eggs.
When predators eat eggs, there may be some eggshells left behind. When chickens eat eggs, they do it so well that no noticeable remains are left. They will eat the egg white, the yolk, and all the shells. Talk of a clean job.
- Egg on face
This might be hard to notice, but look closer. There may be yellow yolk stains on the beak or feathers of the chicken that is eating the eggs. This may be hard to notice if your chickens have yellowish beaks or feathers. A forensic examination may be needed. Or not.
- Stake out
This is an old investigation technique. Take out all the eggs from the nesting boxes. Wait and watch. After the next lay, the suspect chicken will immediately go in. And Voila! You will catch them in the act.
- Video Evidence
Install a coop camera in your chicken house. You do not have to worry about hiding the camera. Your chicken will not notice them. Go through the footage and you will catch the chicken that is eating your eggs.
Reasons your chicken are eating eggs and possible solutions
Let us look at reasons your chickens will eat your eggs and how to solve it once at for all.
Once your chickens are done with feeding, drinking, and other chicken daily chores, they will have nothing else to do. They will find something else to keep them busy. This something else might be playing with eggs. In the midst of this “play”, the eggs might crack. Once the chicken tastes the egg, they will develop an acquired taste for eggs. Chickens will continue to break other eggs to satisfy this habit.
Solution to chickens eating eggs due to boredom: Provide them with something to do. Keep busy. Provide enough roosts away from the nesting boxes for them to relax. Provide chicken toys where possible. Hang vegetables like cabbages, or a bunch of greens for the chicken to peck on. This will keep the chicken occupied and your eggs safe. Ensure that you collect eggs at least twice a day. Old egg crime prevention strategy. No eggs to eat, No eggs are eaten.
- Weak Egg Shells -
After laying, chickens will walk on eggshells aimlessness as they decide what to do with the rest of the day. This might break the eggs. And as all chicken know, broken eggs are meant to be eaten. Once chickens taste eggs, they never go back.
Solution to chickens eating eggs due to weak eggshells: Strengthen the eggshells by supplementing their feed with calcium. Give them feed meant for laying hens, which should be rich in calcium.
- Few Nestboxes
Hens need to do what they do best. Lay eggs. If the laying places are not enough, they will crowd and fight over what is there. During this struggle for the right to lay, they will probably break eggs. As you already know, broken eggs will be eaten.
Solution to chickens eating eggs due to a few nest boxes: Strengthen the eggshells by supplementing their chicken feed with calcium. Give them feed meant for laying hens, which should be rich in calcium.
- Too much light in the nesting area
The nesting area should have dim light. Bright light will make the eggs shiny. Chickens will peck on shiny objects.
Solution to chickens eating eggs due to too much light: Make sure the nesting area has dim lighting.
- Lack of enough protein
If your chicken feed is not giving them the much needed protein, they will look for it wherever they can find it. Sometimes they will find the protein in the eggs.
Solution to chickens eating eggs due to lack of protein: Make sure the chicken feed is balanced with the required protein content for laying birds.
Preventing chickens from eating eggs.
Preventing your chicken from eating your eggs is better than cure. Below are ways you can prevent this bad habit from occurring.
- Balanced Chicken Diet
Make sure your chicken feed is well balanced with enough protein, calcium, and other required nutrients for laying chicken.
- Collect eggs frequently
Collect eggs several times a day to avoid tempting your chickens. If they stay there for too long, the chickens will be tempted to play with the eggs. If they break them, they will eat them.
- Enough space to lay
Make sure your chickens have enough nesting boxes so that they do not crowd in one. Move broody chicken away from the normal laying area so as to create enough space for the others.
- Dim lighting around the nesting area
Make sure the nesting area is not too bright.
- Rollaway nesting boxes
Rollaway nesting boxes allow eggs to roll away from next into a separate compartment hidden from the chicken. With this, the chicken will have no eggs to eat.
- Cooked Eggs and Crushed eggs shells
If you are feeding chickens with eggs or eggshells, make sure the eggs are cooked. Crush the eggs shells and mix them with food. This will prevent the chicken from relating the eggs and eggs shells with eggs that have just been laid.
- Avoid eggs breakage
Provide some soft liter material in the nesting boxes. This provides some cushioning so that eggs do not break. Eggs may break if they fall onto a hard surface. Broken eggs will definitely be eaten by your chicken
Stopping Chicken from eating eggs
If your chickens have started eating their eggs, you will need to stop them. Unless you do not mind losing eggs.
- Mustard in egg
Remove the contents of the egg by making a small hole on one end and fill it with mustard. Put the egg back at the crime scene. Chicken hate the taste of mustard. If they taste the mustard they will associate the taste of eggs with the bad taste of mustard. They will not bother with the eggs again.
- Golf balls or ceramic eggs
Use of fake eggs or anything that looks like an egg can help stop your chicken from eating eggs. Chickens will peck on golf balls or ceramic eggs, with the intention of breaking and eating the content. If they do not break, they will give up. They will end up thinking that eggs have become unbreakable.
- Vinegar in egg
Inject the egg with vinegar. This will change the taste of the egg to taste like vinegar. Chickens do not like vinegar.
Putting the culprit in solitary confinement for a while can help break the habit of eating eggs.
When all has been tried and failed, extreme measures like doing away with the chicken that is eating eggs might be the only solution left.