Six Tips On Breaking Your Egg Eater

Although many people may say egg eating is impossible to break, and to just cull the hen, in many cases this is not true.
Rating:
4.33333/5,
  1. StarLover21
    ~Six tips on breaking your egg eater!~


    [​IMG]

    Egg eating is a nasty habit sometimes found in young pullets, and even older hens. Although many people may say egg eating is impossible to break, and to just cull the hen, in many cases this is not true. Egg eating often starts when an egg is accidentally broken in the nest box, and the hen pecks at it. Finding that this weird yellow substance is tasty, they will quickly devour it, and when they lay their next egg- look for more. Other hens that catch the original one doing this habit may even join in- and you’ll end up with a whole flock of egg eaters. That’s why it’s very important to break this as soon as possible. Below are six helpful tips to breaking your egg eater:

    #1. This is the most common used method among backyard chickeners. Take a thumbtack or a small nail, and poke a small hole in each end of the egg. Then blow on one end, until the egg is empty. Fill up the egg with mustard, or dish-soap. Then place it in the nesting box. Chickens hate the taste of mustard, and once they peck into that, they may not be trying it again. It may take a couple tries using this method, just in case it doesn’t work the first time.
    #2. Place golf balls, or some sort of false egg, in the nesting box. When using this method, make sure you gather the eggs just after they’re laid, so that you can further discourage egg eating. After a while, your hens will get tired of pecking at plastic and getting a sore beak, and hopefully the habit will fade.
    #3. Give your chickens more protein. Yes, it may be as simple as that. Eggs are high in protein, and some chickens, when they are not getting enough, will go as far as eating eggs! Some things to give high in protein are fishmeal, and cat food. You can also try giving them some game-bird feed; it’s higher in protein than regular chicken food. Also boiled, or scrambled eggs. No, they won’t associate it with raw egg!
    #4. Hang ‘curtains’ around the nesting box to make it dark. The egg eaters won’t be able to peck at the eggs if they can’t see them!
    #5. Take all straw or nesting material out of the nesting box. This way, the hen will peck at the egg and it will roll away from her. Although it’s a rather odd idea, it’s had success with many chickens! It’s not easy for a hen to break through an eggshell.
    #6. Pinless peepers. These are a sort of ‘blinder’ that prevents chickens from pecking at each other. It makes it so that they cannot see in front of themselves, only off to the sides. However this can also be used to break egg eaters. It works in a similar way as darkening the nesting box- the hens won’t be able to peck straight at the egg. Leave these on awhile and the habit will probably be broken.
    I’ve tried everything! I can’t get my hen to stop eating eggs, and I don’t want her going in the stewpot!

    [​IMG]
    Unfortunately some egg eaters are just impossible to break. There is a solution to this, though, other than the stewpot. You can get a special kind of roll out nest box. This way the eggs will roll out of the hens reach as soon as she lays them. These nest boxes are the kind that battery hen farms use (don’t worry, they are completely humane), and are extremely effective in stopping your egg eater.
    I have an egg eater. How can I tell who the culprit is?
    First of all you can inspect each hen. Do any of them have egg on their face? Wetness? If you find no evidence, of course, you can always watch the nest boxes to find the culprit. However, there are many easier ways to do this. One way is to blow out the egg, fill it with dish-soap and food coloring. This way you can break and find your egg eater at the same time. Just look for the hen with coloring on her face! Other methods are- placing an egg on the ground and seeing who goes for it, game cameras, and isolating each hen.


    Prevention
    Of course the easiest way to stop eggs from being eaten is to prevent egg eating in the first place. There are several ways to ensure this.
    1. Make sure they have plenty of oyster shell and other protein. This will help them have strong healthy shells which will prevent eggs from being accidentally broken.
    2. Check the amount of nesting material. Make sure they have plenty- also to prevent eggs from being broken.
    3. Remove the eggs as soon as they have been laid.
    4. Don’t let your hens go hungry!
    5. Don’t let your hens get bored either. This makes them more likely to peck at the eggs. Give them food bits, and treats to scratch around for. Try making ‘apples on a stick’, or hang cabbages for them to peck at (instead of the eggs!).

    I hope this is helpful and that you have great success breaking (or preventing) egg eaters!

    Share This Article

    CiceroXY likes this.

Comments

To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. The Phantom
    What happens with filling the eggs with dish soap???
    Is that safe?
  2. The Phantom
    I had that problem. I fixed it by building the roll out nesting boxes.
    They really work!
      Diannastarr likes this.
  3. punk00
    I finally tried the curtains on from of their boxes and it worked! Have you noticed how chickens peck a lot when they are laying? Or at least some do. I emptied their boxes of excess bedding and timothy hay, and I think that helped too. They seem fine with pretty bare boxes. They want a dark place!
      Diannastarr likes this.
  4. summerb123
    I thank I should have read this a little sooner I culled her :(
  5. Sienatiger
    I tried the mustard and dish soap and its still not working. Great page though! Thx for the tips
  6. wineryrooster
    thank you so much for the tips i was very disappointed in my girls. I was always hesitate to put things like cloth in the coop .I always thought they would peck at them and get string and not be able to digest it but i see a lot of people doing it. They also keep scratching the nice straw out of the nest box . I guess i'll have to investigate that one also. Maybe they are just board.
  7. rubbleanddebris
    My chickens gleefully ate the entire mustard filled egg. ;(
  8. Diannastarr
    o and just wanted to add this to my last post about the egg eating , i had just ordered 15 more pullets this past month so the first thing I did before they even arrived, was buy a lot more golf balls....lol..lol.. got a good deal on e bay for some used in good condition golf balls i picked up 29 balls for $10.00 plus free shipping..! :thumbsup:thumbsup:thumbsup
  9. Diannastarr
    My hens were young & found an egg that was the early soft shell kind, so it broke & they ate it , i found that broken soft shelled egg in the nest box, we found one or 2 of our NHR was trying to eat eggs when we found peck marks but no broken eggs just tiny dents in 2 or 3 eggs so after that i put in 4 golf balls in each nest to confuse them, but by then all our eggs were sooo hard shelled, I worried what chicks could not even brake out of them : ) ...lol....lol.. plus always Removing the eggs as soon as they were laid. & at that same time when all of this started ,I fed them more protein with hard boiled eggs each morning all chopped up and then let them all out to start free ranging & that was the end of any egg eating & never have had any more problems since , so i would go with golf balls & at that same time feed more protein with more oyster shells for harder egg shells, so that should do the trick ,no sense in killing off perfectly health hens for that problem , and like i always say = my goodness if you cant out smart a chicken then what the heck are you doing...?? ....lol.... ...lol.... ; )
      GmaClucky likes this.
  10. cluckcluckgirl
    Wonderful job! If I ever run into this problem, I now have the knowledge!
  11. Alexandra33
    Wow, this is invaluable information! My hens sometimes find it appealing to have a snack from the nesting box, and the evidence never fails to show on their faces.....
  12. Akrnaf2
    We in Israel have another methods, we put in the nest box some dummy egg, or even a ping pong balls, and we try to collect the egg as soon as we can, in this situation the egg eater pecks and pecks and peck some more but nothing happens! After a few infertile days like this she usually stop from pecking!=mission accomplished! Good luck!
      GmaClucky likes this.
  13. Mojo12
    I am having the same problem. I accidentally dropped an egg one morning and was very surprised to see every chicken come running! That egg, shell and all, was gone in seconds! Since then, if I don't get out to the henhouse every time I hear a cackle, I don't get eggs. Sounds very mean, but since the golf ball trick failed, and increasing protein failed, I figured I'd get a game camera and winner, winner, chicken dinner the main culprit. Somehow. (OK, so I'm not sure I could do it, but I talked really big to the husband. LOL) Anyway, I have open laying boxes like my ancestors did, so I'm thinking that covering and curtaining them will be my last resort before....well...I don't know what. But I do know that as much as I like my chicklets, I'm not gonna spend as much time and effort and $$$$ on them for absolutely no return. The fertilizer just isn't worth the effort in 100+ degree heat for the summer, ya know?
      GmaClucky likes this.
  14. SageMama
    Thanks for the tips. I put some wooden eggs in the laying boxes to try to discourage egg eating and got three broody hens trying to hatch the wooden eggs instead. I'm not sure if that's why they got broody or if it's just a coincidence. It is spring time. I might try golf balls.
  15. figlover
    I am troubled by my rooster. He is a buff Orpington and is afraid of me because I won't let him get the better of me. He will, however, confront me if I need to pick up a hen. The problem is that I can't bear seeing him mounting the hens. Several have bare backs and some are just too small to undergo such rough riding. I crow whenever I see him mounting and I have even approached with nasty words. I am attached to him so I couldn't eat him but I have threatened him with Craig's list. My last rooster was so violent that I did have to get help to kill him and then make soup. He was so extremely beautiful that I still look at old films with longing. But the day he scratched me on the face was the last straw. So now I have this significantly milder tempered bird who is just doing what roosters are suppose to do and he might try to fend off a predator -- maybe. But I wish he was gay. Are there gay roosters?
  16. figlover
    Thank you for the curtain idea. I have installed curtains in three of my coops and not only has it ended pecked and eaten eggs but my hens are laying more eggs. I like the look of the curtains and I'm getting looks from my hens that say, "it's about time." I can see they like the privacy. The curtains have also broken the habitual broodiness of my silkies. All three have been using the roost again and yesterday I got an egg from all three. The privacy of the curtained nests is a "definite thumbs up."
      GmaClucky likes this.
  17. katekearby
    yet i've heard of some letting hens have broken eggs or shells, does that not encourage them to go after eggs?
  18. 3362
    Great article - tks so much, no egg eater in my flock yet but forever looking for eggs since they are so free range ..... every day feels like Easter [​IMG]
  19. 3girlzcraft
    FANTASTIC INFO! Thanks so much. Will put this to use!
  20. Beekissed
    . A couple of times a year on this forum we are inundated with posts about needing help with egg eaters and no one seems to realize the correlation with the laying seasons. For the most part, shells thin and become easier to break during hot weather preceding the molting season, through the molting season and again when chickens are starting to lay again in the spring and their reproductive organs are getting back into shape for production.
    Eating the broken, cracked or shell less eggs is a natural instinct of the chickens to keep nesting areas clean. All chickens will eat an egg that has been damaged and leaking...they are opportunistic eaters and therein lies the opportunity.
    If one is feeding regular, formulated feeds there is no need to "up the protein and calcium" to stop the egg eaters or to add oyster shell to the feeds or even to feed cat food. The formulated feeds have the appropriate amounts needed for their needs and any extra calcium consumed is merely excreted in the urine.
    There is also no need to bait eggs, use fake eggs or build roll away nests. I'll tell you why...because this is a temporary issue that always passes in a few short weeks or even days...approximately the same time people are implementing these cures for "egg eating". Because this passes in a short time, people are convinced that their remedies worked when it was going to pass anyway.
    I'll tell you how I know...for 37 years now I've kept chickens and never had an "egg eater". I've had many, many chickens who will eat eggs at certain times of year. Yep, you guessed it...about twice a year. Each time this happens I know that I don't have to do anything about it because it's going to go away in a couple of weeks. And it does! Like magic!
    Now, if the problem is not seasonal and due to birds that are irregular in their laying patterns due to old age, breed genetics, poor genetics, ill health, etc. this phenomenon may happen at other times of the year and just for that hen...who will promptly turn around and eat her own egg, or will get off the nest and the next hen getting on will then eat her damaged egg. This is a bird that will need to be culled simply because of her abnormal ovulation/production and not because she has eaten her eggs.
    Next time this happens, do a little experiment...do nothing but just wait. Wait it out and see how long before it resolves itself. You can afford to do that, can't you?
    The cure? Patience.
  21. idahoan
    Great information. My Muscovy drake is eating the ducks eggs. I will try some of the suggested remedies. I pray I am sucessful
  22. Herbladi
  23. thewobsers
    We have used these great suggestions and going down the list. 1. Tried increasing the protein-- no change. 2 Added oyster shells-- no change. Gonna do the curtain thing next. We know which ones are doing it as we set up a motion sensored camera and dvr player too so we record and playback later. Going to try all the suggestions and if all fails we will have to make chicken and dumplings. Not a terrible option.
  24. calicochicken
    Apple on a stick. Sounds like a good idea for a treat for our chickens even if they don't eat eggs!
  25. gillyfleur
    I had a d'Uccle hen that was lower on the pecking order that had hidden two eggs in the bushes near the coop and tried to set there. She would get extremely nervous when any of the other chickens got too near, but refused to leave the eggs. After a couple days it seemed she couldn't handle the stress any more and I watched as she tried to "move" the nest. Unfortunately, the eggs cracked as she pushed and pecked at them. She picked up the broken eggs in her beak and moved them and tried to set on them again. After a few hours she figured out there wasn't any point and abandoned the nest. This has been my only experience with my hens "eating" eggs. I'm happy that I was able to observe her behavior and understand that the reasons for egg eating can be many and complex.
      GmaClucky likes this.
  26. sewingca
    Great article and comments. I felt we had an egg eater so I confined the most likely suspect for a few days. The egg production was still down and then I spotted rats in the coop. My question is - when there are no eggs or evidence of eggs (shell), is it egg eating or no laying going on? The rats have cleared out, but now only one or two or no eggs each day from a flock of 12. Thanks all.
  27. willowbranchfarm
    Great article.
  28. Snowypinesridge
    We have used a chinese hot mustard with good results...kinda of a double whammy...
  29. sophiesmith
    Thanks. The mustard trick helped.
  30. SJ
    I once had an egg eating problem. Not just from pulllets either. My rooster, a few hens and even my muscovy ducks were all witnessed as egg eaters this spring. Needless to say I was losing alot of eggs. Now I never heard of soap or mustard eggs and all my birds love hot peppers, but when looked for a remedy I kept finding that most everyone agreed that chickens wont eat in the dark. It turned out it was that simple, with the chickens anyways. In my expierence "Keep the laying box or boxes dark and keep your eggs."
      GmaClucky likes this.
  31. ChicKat
    You did a great job with this article!
  32. ChickensAreSweet
    Nice article!!!
  33. Chicks Galore3
    Thankfully, I haven't had egg eater problems, but now I know how to prevent and cure! VERY helpful!
  34. Lothiriel
  35. brotherjustin
    Dark curtains worked for me!
  36. rbrink21
    I've definitely noticed that a change in diet seems to help. I have an egg eater that was eating all my eggs every day. It stopped when they started having access to the higher protein turkey feed. Of course now that we've separated the turkeys and chickens the egg eating has started again.
  37. Honey Pride12
    Not trying to encourage this behavior, just a rookie mistake. I sometimes have eggs that are trampled or cracked in the nesting box. I often toss them out in the yard and let them bust open. Well, the girls see this and go to town. I know there are other sources of protein aka feed, but they seem to enjoy it and have not noticed any of them pecking at the eggs trying to break them open. They also eat the shell which is good calcium??? Please advise one way or the other. Thank you!!
  38. Lookin4space
    Those of you that are having problems with chickens breaking their eggs, or soft eggs- you might consider supplementing them with oyster shell or the like.
    As for those asking if its alright for chickens to eat SOME of the eggs, the answer is no, unless the egg is cooked first.
    As a suggestion to those putting in golf balls, plastic eggs, etc; if its works, great! There is another alternate, though: egg gourds. Egg gourds are easy to grow and look just like a white egg. They're hard as a rock so they can't get broken, and they last for years.
  39. VolleyballFreak
    Brilliant! I have several egg eaters. I hate going out and finding that my hen as eaten her egg. Especially if I'm trying to collect them for the incubator!
  40. Lookin4space
    What are you guys feeding your chickens (besides eggs)? Chickens are omnivores and need animal protein in their diet. Also, they need calcium, which can either be supplied using dried ground eggshell or oyster shell. Egg pellet manufacturers claim to have sufficient amounts of all of the above in their feed, but, in my experience, chickens need the shell and extra protein (preferably by foraging bugs) as well.
  41. yardbirds sask
    My egg eater lays her egg standing in the run so it smashes on the ground and none of them have to peck at it to crack it open....that's my dilemna
  42. Lookin4space
    One thing that helped me is build nest boxes that are as cramped as possible. Mine are "12 X "12 X "9 and the hens actually prefer them to open nesting areas. Also, egg eaters often start because they are being pecked by the others, so they stay in the nesting areas to hide. Rather than starve to death they start eating eggs, which snowballs into a flock following suit. I had an suspected egg eater, so I isolated her for a few weeks. After she grew back her feathers and started laying eggs without eating them, I put her back in the flock and the others seemed to accept her and left her alone. I also started free-ranging and my hens all seem very healthy now.
  43. Katiesduckies
    Is it okay if your chickens eat eggs that are broken? I dont mind it because they only eat the eggs that are squashed or broke. I have an egg surplus so I dont mind the eggs that cant be hatched ate :D
  44. spoiled chicks
    Thanks, Ill try that, WE made our laying boxes to big I can see that as we have 3 hens at one time thinking her egg needs to be laid there when there are 6 other empty boxes right next to them
  45. americanvalkyrie
    We had egg eating for a short time, but realized it was caused by a hen that had her cloaca damaged by bronchitis, and wasn't putting on the last layer of the egg. So it broke within moments of being laid. She's starting to get better, the shells are getting a little harder, and I'm able to retrieve the eggs in a timely manner. I love the idea of filling the egg with mustard! I've never heard of this trick before, but it sounds great. I'll have to keep that in mind if I get an eater.
  46. willowbranchfarm
  47. yorklady
    I was going to post a question about this when I saw this very timely article. My husband thinks the hens are accidentally breaking the eggs by trying to crowd one another in the nesting box. Our coop has 4 nesting boxes and we have six hens but they only want to use one of the four boxes.Could this be accidental or do we have serial egg eaters?
  48. Yukonchick
    Very clever ideas. I hope all my Red sussex turn out to be good layers. They're only a week old right now
  49. Fluffballs
    Thank you! This will be very helpful! I hope I only have to use the prevention part though... :p
  50. NoZolbitty
    Excellent articleand I have to agree with C$C Chickens Remember These" Folklore treatments" came about when Great-grandma Had that problem. What did she do? If the guilty party was your best layer you would not be too enthusiastic about culling her. They tried as many methods that they or their neighbors could think of. They kept the methods that worked for them.
    For example: Instead of buying oyster shells for her chickens, My mother would take the spent shells, break them up very fine and roast them before giving them to her hens. We didn't have a problem with egg eaters. I would ad maybe talking to your vet if you have an avian vet, He/She may have an idea.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by