As a chicken owner, the last thing you want is for one of your hens to develop a taste for eggs. This typically happens when an egg breaks in a nesting box and a hen finds that it’s full of sweet, delicious yolk. Once a hen discovers that the contents of their eggs taste pretty darn good, they may start pecking at unbroken eggs and eating them too. If left unchecked, other hens in your flock may follow suit and start eating eggs as well. Likewise, if you notice one of your hens eating eggs, it’s a good idea to nip the problem in the bud as soon as possible. Today we’ll look at a few strategies to stop a hen from eating her eggs.
Make Eggs Less Appetizing
For this method, we’ll make a decoy egg for the hungry hen in question. Start by taking a whole egg from a nesting box and using a small nail to poke a hole in both ends of the egg. Then blow through one end of the egg to expel the yolk. Once you’ve emptied the egg, refill it with mustard and place it back in the nesting box of the egg-eating hen. Chickens don’t like the taste of mustard, so this method can trick a hen into thinking her eggs aren’t so tasty after all. You may need to try this method a few times before she gets the idea.
Keep Nesting Areas Dark
Maintaining dimly-lit nesting areas can help prevent egg eating in two ways. To begin with, it will help to keep your birds relaxed and stress-free, reducing the likelihood that they’ll be pecking around in their nesting boxes. It can also make eggs less visible to hens, and hens won’t eat what they can’t see!
Making sure your nesting boxes are well-designed can go a long way toward preventing hens from eating their eggs. When nests get overcrowded, eggs are more likely to break and get eaten by hens. Start by making sure you have at least one 12” X 12” nest for every four hens in your coop. Take broody hens out of the nesting area to prevent overcrowding and provide more nesting space for your other birds. Finally, consider building a nesting box with a slanted bottom that allows eggs to roll away into a tray so your hens don’t have a chance to peck at them.
As soon as you notice a hen eating her eggs, take steps to quarantine her from the rest of the flock before other birds have a chance to mimic her bad behavior. If you’re not sure which hen is eating her eggs, you can also plant a fake wooden or ceramic egg on the floor of the henhouse and then watch through a window to see which bird tries to eat it.
If you notice more than one bird pecking at their eggs, it could be because they have protein deficiencies. Try adjusting their feed accordingly to add more protein to their daily diet. Use a standard formulated mash or crumble for egg-laying pullets to ensure they get the right nutrients.