Egg Eating, What are the Causes, And How to Prevent It

By hannahsflock · May 22, 2014 · Updated May 22, 2014 · ·
  1. hannahsflock

    Egg eating can be frustrating and worrying for first time chicken owners. Where are all your eggs going? Why are your hens full of egg yolk? They wouldn't eat their own eggs would they? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Sometimes hens eat their eggs as a result of lack of protein, or it could just be caused by curious hens taking a peck or two at their eggs, then getting the taste for raw egg.

    How do you know you have an egg eater?

    1. Egg yolk all over your chicken's beak or feathers could mean they've been eating their eggs.

    2. Egg yolk in the nesting boxes, and the appearance of half eaten eggs.

    3. The evidence of egg yolk on other eggs.

    [​IMG]Curious chickens could become egg eaters.

    Here are 10 Tips on Preventing and Curing Egg Eating

    1. Give them more protein - Increase their protein intake, by feeding them sunflower seeds, giving them a little more layer pellets and feeding them less greens and scratch. Another good option is to fill a little bowl with oyster shell, and leaving it in their coop for them to peck at whenever they feel the need. This is how I solved my egg eating problem.

    2. Collect the eggs as soon as they've been laid if possible - This will lessen the chance of your chickens being able to eat their eggs, as your eggs would already be safely inside before they got peckish.

    3. Fill the eggs with mustard - Poke a hole in your eggs and fill them with mustard. The next time your chickens come to eat, they'll get a nasty surprise, and hopefully they won't dare try to peck at their eggs again!

    4. Add golf balls to the nest - Add a few golf balls to the nest, and if your chickens try to peck at it, they won't enjoy the hard surface.

    5. Line your nesting boxes with soft hay or shavings, to prevent the eggs from breaking.

    6. Make sure you have one nest per four hens in your coop, as if nests are too crowded the eggs could get trampled and broken. Most egg eating habits occur when eggs get accidentally broken and your chickens taste it.

    7. Egg eating can also occur when nests are on the floor, and are always in view.

    8. If you feed your chickens egg shells, make sure they are cooked, as they can get addicted to the taste of raw egg otherwise.

    9. If an egg breaks, clean it up immediately to prevent your chickens from tasting it.

    10. Darken your nests. Dark nests reduce egg eating and stop too many dirty eggs being produced.

    So you've found the egg eater. Now what?

    Once you've found the egg eater, separate her immediately. More broken eggs will just encourage other chickens to join the club. Try these tips, and only later introduce her when her habit is broken.

    [​IMG] oyster shell is a great source of calcium and won't encourage your chickens to eat their eggs.

    It is critical that you try to break this habit early, as later it could become impossible to do so.

    Further reading:

    Six Tips On Breaking Your Egg Eater
    Common egg quality problems
    Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying (Forum section)

    Share This Article

    Feathers Brady and Marsha Franks like this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. Phoenixxx
    "Not the be-all, end-all"
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed Jul 25, 2018
    I have dealt with my share of egg-eaters. Most become dog food. Right now, I have two hens witnessed as eating eggs segregated from the main coop. Since being moved, both suspect hens have not left evidence of eating eggs, yet the main coop where they're from has now a higher production rate.
  2. BCLegbar
    "Egg Eaters gone wild"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 25, 2018
    I've tried the mustard trick but that didn't work. The article gives me a few more things to try and work on. Thanks.
  3. Redhenny
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Jul 25, 2018
    This article was good story told. Mahalos says Hennyko an egg sucking chicken!


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  1. Shady Oak Farm
    I wish when I first started chicken raising I knew how serious this was. I had no idea it could get carried away so fast. This is a great article and if caught early very effective. My problem was so out of control by the time I understood all 27 hens were waiting for each other to lay to attack the eggs. I tried almost all of these but some things worked for some not for others and it got old feeding and trying things for hens not giving up the goods. So in farm life if your not providing food or income off they went to the freezer. Whole new flock ordered. And wonderful new adventure begins. Now I watch keenly for broken eggs.
  2. Blondetarzen
    I would disagree with the previous response. Here's why, I have seen in more than one particular case a 2 of my Speckled Sussex hens pecking and eating eggs! As stated in the article, the birds are missing something in the diet. As for my hens, I had been feeding them shelled corn for about a month during the late winter. Corn has no nutritional value so to speak. As soon as I started feeding them the layer pellets and giving vitamins it stopped. So my conclusion is if you have nothing getting into your coop that you know of for sure, then I would look at there diet or try giving some vitamins. I believe that this will help.
  3. Audio51
    I disagree 100% !! True egg eaters are very rare and unless you catch them red-handed it should always be assumed there is another cause. Thin shells make eggs weak and a hen getting in an out of a nest box can break the egg. Additional calcium in the form of oystershell and Vit D3 (supplement or sunshine) are the treatment for thatThe hen will clean up the mess so the resources will not be wasted. 9 times out of 10 it is that or an intruder such as blue jay (in my area Scrub Jays) or rat getting into the nest and breaking eggs. I can;t tell you how many times people on some of the groups I am swore they had an egg eater. I advised it was not likely the case and a week or so later they would come back on and confess that it was, in fact, a jay that had gotten into the coop.
      Feathers Brady likes this.
  4. bjbingham
    I was talking to a friend about what he did. He said he had tried the mustard and it didn’t work. So he added a large portion of vinegar. That was magic for him. The vinegar is strong and it irritates their eyes and nose and so it discouraged them from pecking at the eggs. He was shocked at how many more eggs he collected. I have my eggs blown, now to get a needle and syringe to fill the eggs. I need to get this habit under control.
      Rhys Nason likes this.
  5. lesliep6
    I had a bad case of egg pecking, but didn’t know who the culprit was. So I got comfortable in a lawn chair and settled down to observe.... Long story short, it wasn’t my chickens pecking the eggs but a scrub jay! A little research proved that jays are known egg eaters. I hung up a flexible screen in front of the door and problem solved!
      lilcowmama likes this.
  6. TbT
    I had trouble with egg pecking too. I ordered a pack of ceramic eggs from Amazon and put one in each nesting box. It helped them spread out and seem to make them back off on the pecking. Otherwise they all tended to want the same nest. Really helped.
  7. savta
    After 20+ years of peeps, I don't often see this problem. I suspect the underlying cause is boredom. When it occurs on a regular basis, the first thing I do is clip all their beaks. Then I skatter wooden eggs in the nest boxes, pick up the eggs early, and give them "hanging" treats or a field block. This usually stops the activity. If I can spot the offender, [which is challenging] I cull them. Isolation usually doesn't help.
  8. Independence
    Good article but it provides nothing new for the seasoned flockster. We, too, are occasionally stumped by the mysterious egg eater. I'd love to hear tips from the old timers on this. Trying to isolate the culprit out of 30 (or more) chickens is not easy....
  9. midnightblue69
    Depends on the age and position of the perp. If it's a rooster, he goes in the pot. If it's an older, lesser productive hen, she goes in the pot. But identify the problem ASAP, it can go from a single chicken to much of the flock quickly. I know there are a diversity of feelings on eating/not eating chickens and I'm not disrespecting those who keep them purely as pets but if you ANY aspirations of chickens being productive or anything more than pets you have to deal with turning over chickens periodically, it just goes with it. I have 20 neighbors selling organic brown eggs for $1.00-$3.00 a dozen, for all the work and money that goes into raising chickens to not be a laughable loss you have to be honest in mature in your thinking. Over the life of a flock many backyarders are paying $100 a dozen for eggs and working their butt off to do so, this is more common than most think.
      Goronson Chicks likes this.
    1. Goronson Chicks
      You are absolutely correct! We work very hard to keep our birds clean, well fed, pastured and safe from predators. Since we're 'softies' we've used the 'isolate' method the few times we've had an egg eater. Each farmer or chicken keeper has to decide what works for them. We know we're paying more for our eggs, but it's a choice we made. It was important to us to have quality eggs from hens that are humanely and well treated.
  10. Mountain Peeps
  11. hannahsflock
    Thanks for the correction :)
  12. AmyPaperlady
    Oyster shells provide calcium, not protein :)
  13. hannahsflock
    Hi, the way I darkened my nesting boxes was by nailing feed bags around them where the light shone through the spaces in the walls. Also shade cloth helps. They do need some sunshine in their coop so don't close off all the light. Hope this helps :)
      Delman likes this.
  14. crazyfeathers
    I occasionally get a pecked egg and have read that chickens will peck anything at least once. I think I will put golf balls back into the nest boxes and see if that helps. How do you suggest to darken the nesting boxes without using curtains, I can't imagine how dirty they would get plus curtains would be a collector of bacteria and dander. Great post thanks for sharing! :)

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