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Egg Eating - Why Chickens Do It and How to Stop It

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Egg Eating - Why Chickens Do It and How to Stop It

Freshly collected eggs.

Photo © Lauren Ware

If your chickens are eating their own eggs, you'll need to break this habit immediately. The longer they do it, the harder it becomes to fix. But don't worry - with a few tweaks to your hens' nest boxes and living situation, you can nip egg eating in the bud.

Reduce Egg Breakage

Egg breakage is one of the major reasons why hens begin eating eggs. A few quick tips can reduce or eliminate egg breakage and thus the chances for your hens to get the taste of raw egg.

  • Nest boxes. Make sure you have one 12-inch square nest for every 4-5 hens in the flock - never fewer than six nesting boxes. Nesting boxes should be at least two feet off the ground and at least four feet from the roosts.

    Also make sure you have at least 2 inches of clean, dry nesting material (shavings or straw) in the nest boxes at all times.

    Relocate any broody hens, which cause more congestion in the nesting boxes.

  • Strong eggshells. Keep eggshells strong by feeding a calcium supplement in a free choice feeder (usually sold as oyster shells). Make sure to use a complete feed specifically designed for laying hens.

    If you feed hens eggshell for calcium, smash them to a powder so they don't associate them with the egg itself.

  • Collect eggs early. Collecting eggs early in the day is always good practice. This leaves less time for breakage and egg eating. Most hens are done laying by 10 am.

Lower Stress

Avoid bright lighting near the nesting boxes, and don't disturb hens in the nests. Make sure you have enough space for each hen in the coop, fresh feed and water are available at all times, and if possible, hens have free space outdoors to roam (or at least a run with fresh grass and bugs).

Cull Relentless Egg Eaters

If you have one hen who's determined to eat eggs despite all these tips, consider culling her from the flock. She'll just pass on the bad behavior to the other hens and then you'll have a real problem on your hands.

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Raise Your Own Chickens
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