Anyone who has an egg-eating problem will undertsand that there are few solutions to fixing this problem and there isn't much of a chance of fixing it permanently unless you decide to cull the egg-eaters.
~There are many reasons why your chickens/poultry may have started eating eggs:
1. A heavier hen may have accidentally crushed an egg in a nest with too many eggs and decided to take a taste. This problem can be prevented by removing eggs 2-3 times a day if you have lots of hens like me.
2. Your hen may have a deficiency of some sort. I have read in my past research that the hens may have a protein deficiency and purposely eat the insides and shell of the egg in order to gain that protein.
~Some ways to find the egg-eaters in your flock:
1. Look for yellow coloring on birds' necks, beaks, faces, and crops.
2. Sometimes you will catch a hen in the process of eating an egg.
3. Watch out for intruder hens trying to shove their way into the nest where a hen is laying an egg.
~You should try and do all you can to prevent egg-eating in your flocks by:
1. Gathering eggs at least once a day (if you have 20+ hens you should collect two to three times a day)
2. If you catch egg eating in the first stages it may be preventable.
3. Try to make sure your chickens have all of the protein/calcium they need. I do this by feeding cooked egg shells which i will explain more about below.
Unfortunately all 40+ of my hens eat eggs, including my rooster, Wings. In researching I found many solutions to resolving this problem partially, but never permanently.
1. cull the effected birds (this for me, unfortunately at this point in time would be practically my whole flock, plus I wouldn't want to cull anyhow.)
2. Someone mentioned to me previously about roll-away nest boxes. Although I have never personally tried this method, I'm sure it works well. All of my coops are DIY projects. I have not the resources, the time, nor the money to install roll-away nests, therefore that is not an option for me.
3. A friend stopped in to look at a hen that was sick once. She has her own Silkies and knows quite a bit about them. I asked her for advice when my one Slikie hen, Thud had an overgrown beak. She reccomended clipping it when she was here and that resulted succesfully. As we were talking, I also asked about egg-eating as I was fairly new to chickens at the time. Her recommendation was to boil the egg shells after we crack the eggs to eat them, then microwave on a plate. You then take the bubble part out to throw away and crumble the shells in a bag until they are smaller than sunflower seeds. Over time, the boiling part got to be too much, so we developed the procedure to best fit our schedule.
~1. Use your eggs for whatever you are cooking and place shells on a plate that is microwavable.
~~ 2. heat in microwave covered by a paper towel. I can't remember the exact time we heated ours, but the shells should be somewhat dry when finished (I'm thinking around 30sec.)
~~~ 3. remove the bubble part from the inside of the shell.
~~~~ 4. When finished, place in a bag ( I prefer plastic Ziploc bags) and crush to be smaller than a sunflower seed. The reason for this is so the shell is somewhat unrecognizable. You can use most anythng to get the shells as small as possible. I find that using a wooden rolling pin to roll over the shells in an air-free bag is the best way to get smaller pieces. You can also use your hands but I've never been able to acheive the small pieces in this way. You can either mix these with feed or spread in the coop for eating. This is the best way I've found for keeping the gals from eating eggs. Oyster shell aslo works just as well, but if your hens are like mine, they won't eat it. This is why we use the egg shells.
4. Someone once told me to fill either an easter egg or a blown out egg shell with mustard and feed to the girls. This did NOT work for me. You can try it, BUT I'm warning you it did not work for my hens and only made matters worse. If you don't know how to blow out an egg, this is what you do:
1. take any egg, poke a hole in each end with a pin and try to make it around the sizeof a sunflower seed or larger.
2. I take a plastic straw and put up to one end over a bowl and just blow as hard as I can. You may have to usesomething to mash up the yolk inside if you have difficulty gettingthe inside out. You can also (if you don't want to eat the insides of course), run a somewhat high pressure running water from the sink down through the egg. This works too. Once the shell is empty I let it sit for a few hours to dry on a paper towel. You can then squeeze mustard into for the mustard trick if you decide to attempt.
5. Now this, by far is the best way I have found to stop egg eating combined with the crumbled egg shells as a supplement. In 2014 we added a second feeder to the coop. So we wouldn't have to fillup the metal pan so often, we took a 5 gallon bucket, cut 4 holes in the bottom and left them attached like flaps and used them to srew the bucket fast to the pan. you can then put your feed into the top and place the lid. The food will come out through the 4 holes into the pan as the hens need it. Unfortanetly we changed feed sources due to cheaper prices. The feed we used tobuy was from TSC and was somewhat crumbled. We now buy from a mill near our house and that feed is a finer ground grain than the TSC stuff so it clogged up the holes of the bucket too easily. We did not have time to fix this and so we took the lid off to just let the hens roost on the edge of the bucket and eat. After a few weeks like this, the hens started laying eggs in the bucket! The eggs that came out of this bucket were the cleanest in the coop. We then quit uing this for food and went back to a plain pan. I filled the bucket with shavings half way, leaving a pan on the bottom. The pan works as a stabilizer for the bucket for when the hens jump in and out and the shavings make for a comfy nest and unless an egg accidentally gets crushed, it is almost impossible for a hen to eat one of the eggs inside the bucket. I am now thinking of using all 5 gallon buckets for nest boxes!
6. Another solution that did not work quite so well for me, but would maybe work for you is to place wooden or ceramic eggs in nests. The chickens will peck at them and not be able to get anything out of them. I still keep wooden eggs in the nests because it helps somewhat to keep a few hens on the nests to protect eggs when i cannot collect them.
~~over time maybe you will have a silly moment like mine with the feeder and develop (technically your chickens will develop) a new and better solution to keep chickens (and other poultry too!) from eating your eggs.~~
The pictures aren't the greatest, but you can see what the "bucket nest" looks like. You can see in the one picture that the eggs in the bucket are almost completely clean. Ignore the mud on the bucket etc, we've had a lot of rain and the chickens are making the coop a muddy mess.
thanks for reading!
Egg-eating: what it is, how to prevent it, and partial solutions
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