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.
By StarLover21 · Feb 13, 2012 · Updated Mar 27, 2012 · ·
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  1. StarLover21
    ~Six tips on breaking your egg eater!~


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    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!

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    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!

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Bak-Bak
    "Great article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 16, 2019 at 2:47 AM
  2. Muscovy Wunda
    "Love that this popped up today of all days"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 13, 2019 at 10:23 PM
    Busted 3 out of 5 of my flock in corner this morning, egg on faces. As the girls have litterally just started laying this week I know the shells are slightly weak. Boosting the protein and trying the egg bombs!
    *edited to add*
    I have just tried the egg filled with dish soap on my Mother in Laws old maltese cross shitzu. Hes been an egg eater as long as he lived with her (but she never told us that when she sent him to live with us) and the absolute disgusted look on his face! he doesn't look like he'll be going near the coop for awhile 20190814_130513.jpg 20190814_130513.jpg
  3. Hardknockshomestead
    "Good info."
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 10, 2019
    I wouldn't try removing nesting material in my laying boxes. Otherwise, I liked the article.

Comments

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  1. chloezoebob101
    It was helpful! i need to use these methods on my hen. Thanks!!
  2. The Chickeneer
    This article is really good. Very helpfull :) I just recently bough a new hen........shes an egg eater. I have her in a little separate pen now, and I'm thinking of building one of those little roll out nest boxes. How does a hen know to lay in the roll out nests? It just occured to me that dummy eggs would also roll out....maybe gluing them down?
  3. StarLover21
    It's pretty easy- just take away her current nesting box. She'll get a hang of using the new one, it'll be much better than laying it on the dirt. Gluing down dummy eggs might also help. Good luck!
  4. TayFray!
    I was going to do this same topic, but then I saw that you had it, great article, had some new ideas then me! Thanks for sharing the info!
  5. Chicks & Chickens
    Great job! There are just two typos that I noticed and I just want to help you a bit :)
    In the sentence, "Although many people may say egg eating is impossible to break, and to just cull the hen, but in many cases this is not true." Just correct it to "Although many people may say egg eating is impossible to break, and to just cull the hen, in many cases this is not true." and take out the "But". Also, the section where it says, "It may take a couple try’s using this method," the "Try's" is not how you spell it : ) It is "Tries"
    Good luck, because other than those two, you are doing GREAT!
  6. StarLover21
    Thank you! I'll fix those.
  7. Chicks & Chickens
    You're welcome! And good luck :)
  8. Lothiriel
    Great job! If I get an egg eater I'll likely be trying some of your tips. :)
  9. CarolJ
    You wrote your article at just the right time. Right after you had posted it for the competition, I had my first experience with an egg eater. I had taken the ceramic eggs out of the nest boxes just a few days earlier - thinking that the chickens had all learned what the nest boxes were for. When I found that partially eaten egg, I immediately put the fake eggs back in the boxes, and so far no more eggs have been broken/eaten. Hope I don't have to resort to some of your other suggestions. Great advice - thanks. And congratulations!
  10. pluck
    yes i am having a huge problem did i say huge I raise show seramas and have a special coop for them in the winter because they do not tol cold well i think they got bored being inside for winter and once 1 started now they are all doing it what a mess it toook 3 years to build up my line and cant hatch anything tried the fake eggs they figured it out unless i sit out there all day i cant caught them they will not lay in the boxes they lay every where so i cant slant the box will try the soap next i think that will fix them i hope
  11. HudokFarm
    Does the dish soap not hurt them? I want to try this with my little egg-eater.
  12. Fierlin1182
    Great article, I've referred it to many people who asked about their egg eaters. Very informative!
  13. Davaroo
    Another idea is the community nest. The common open fronted nest, used by most people, is the key problem with egg eating. It was developed to serve the keeper, not the bird. It's chief failing is that it is bright, too spacious - and hens are clumsy in them. This is made worse when several hens crowd into one. When they manage to break or crack and an egg while stumble footing around, well... the game is on, then.
    A darkened nest, as in the community nest, is a sure bet. The birds are forced to stoop and step lightly in these dark boxes, and they cannot peck at what they cannot see. They are also more inclined to them, as the prefer seclusion when laying. Dark curtains added to existing nests can help and collecting eggs right away is also a good plan. Roll away nests also work, if you are inclined to construct them.
    Misinformation about egg eating abounds. For example, it is not about protein deficits; chickens don't know they may suffer from them, nor that eggs may help. There is also little credence to the varied mustard/chili pepper/soap or golf ball cures. These are fun and lurid, and they give YOU something to do. But they're more folklore than anything.
  14. fatsu
    My sebright girls are eating there eggs. I'm starting with the golfball method I'll let you know how it works
  15. Kane
    My whole flock eats the eggs!
  16. Wyogirl
    Mine are too. they were even eating them out of the roll out nest boxes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Underneath where the eggs were laid. I used black duct tape and taped everything!!! Hopefully they won't see the eggs, next is curtains and if that doesn't work I guess I am building a community nest box!
  17. Habibs Hens
    awsome post thanks
  18. C&C Chickens
    Another awesome, extraordinarily useful post on BYC!!!! Thank you! We followed your advice immediately after discovering an egg eater had developed, and after one night of putting out two soap-filled, pepper covered egg shells, we've have no more problems over the past five days. I have to disagree wholeheartedly with the above post that says this cure is folklore - it definitely worked for us, and I think it helped that we hopped on it right away when the problem developed.
  19. Bgkgm
    Our chicken became a egg eater because she was laying shell-less eggs. The eggs would often break when they hit the ground, so she ate the little puddle of snack. So I disagree that diet change might not help. We were unaware of this since she ate them up so quickly until we caught her in the act one day.
  20. jonsweaver
    My experience with putting a golf ball in the nesting box was good. This spring, one of my hens starting pecking and eating her own and others' eggs. After several times, I put a golf ball in the nest, and the eating has stopped. A one time experience, not a big study - I only have a few hens - but so far it has worked.
  21. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations! Your article is now featured on the homepage carousel! Thanks for submitting it to our BYC Article Writing Contest.
  22. wherry
    thank you for the wonderful article.My chicks are still young but I'd rather read about it now and be prepared than be hunting later.
  23. 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.
  24. Fluffballs
    Thank you! This will be very helpful! I hope I only have to use the prevention part though... :p
  25. Yukonchick
    Very clever ideas. I hope all my Red sussex turn out to be good layers. They're only a week old right now
  26. 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?
  27. willowbranchfarm
  28. 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.
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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.
      StaffordshireLady likes this.
  32. 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
  33. 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.
      Diannastarr likes this.
  34. 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!
  35. 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.
  36. 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!!
  37. 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.
  38. brotherjustin
    Dark curtains worked for me!
  39. Lothiriel
  40. Chicks Galore3
    Thankfully, I haven't had egg eater problems, but now I know how to prevent and cure! VERY helpful!
  41. ChickensAreSweet
    Nice article!!!
  42. ChicKat
    You did a great job with this article!
  43. 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."
      MnchFmlyFrm and Diannastarr like this.
  44. sophiesmith
    Thanks. The mustard trick helped.
  45. Snowypinesridge
    We have used a chinese hot mustard with good results...kinda of a double whammy...
  46. willowbranchfarm
    Great article.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
      wispy55, Lkcoop66 and GmaClucky like this.
  49. calicochicken
    Apple on a stick. Sounds like a good idea for a treat for our chickens even if they don't eat eggs!
      Lkcoop66 likes this.
  50. 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.
      Lkcoop66 likes this.

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