chickens eating "defective" eggs

Sep 20, 2017
276
305
156
Washington State
Occasionally one of our hens will lay a soft shell egg or a really thin shelled egg, and she and the other chickens almost always eat them on the spot! Also if an egg accidentally gets cracked or crushed in the nest box, they will eat it. To my knowledge, they don't attempt to eat the normal eggs. They seem to somehow know that these are different and "OK" for them to eat. Anyone else have this experience?

Also, our hens tend to drop the soft/thin shell eggs just anywhere - on the coop floor, in the grass outside, etc., while the normal eggs are almost always laid in the nest boxes. Fascinating!
 

Wellsken

Chirping
Mar 29, 2018
35
63
59
Burley Idaho
My hens wil try to eat any eggs laid. The normal eggs have hard enough shells that they can not crack them. Thin shelled eggs easily crack and they will quickly gobble them up. I am exploring smoothing the beaks to keep them from breaking eggs so easily. Still not sure quite how to do it.
 

feedman77

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
2,933
2,469
281
I feed my chickens back eggs I crack or drop. If I find a nest of hidden eggs.

They will almost fight over them when I toss them down. Maybe I've been lucky but have never had any bird specifically bust eggs to eat.

Usually when I'm collecting the eggs I'm surrounded by hens following me step by step hoping I drop one.
 

feedman77

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
2,933
2,469
281
I feed my chickens back eggs I crack or drop. If I find a nest of hidden eggs.

They will almost fight over them when I toss them down. Maybe I've been lucky but have never had any bird specifically bust eggs to eat.

Usually when I'm collecting the eggs I'm surrounded by hens following me step by step hoping I drop one.
 
Sep 20, 2017
276
305
156
Washington State
Yes, normally I feed back any cracked or soft-shelled ones but only after cooking, and without the shell. We oven-dry and grind the shells and give them to the chickens as a calcium supplement. I've been told that feeding whole, raw eggs can cause chickens to start cracking and eating any eggs they lay, not just the "bad" ones, so the idea is to disassociate the taste of egg from the taste of shell (and change the taste of the egg by cooking it).
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,066
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
My hens wil try to eat any eggs laid. The normal eggs have hard enough shells that they can not crack them. Thin shelled eggs easily crack and they will quickly gobble them up. I am exploring smoothing the beaks to keep them from breaking eggs so easily. Still not sure quite how to do it.

When chickens are eating eggs on a regular basis, this points to poor quality feed. Better to treat the feed issue than to be grinding their beaks down.

Older hens are more prone to laying thin shelled eggs. IMO, calcium intake is not the end of the story when it comes to egg shell quality. Other vitamins and minerals are also required in order for the chicken to effectively utilize the calcium she eats. I would start by ensuring that the flock has adequate protein (stop the treats, and supply a good FRESH feed that is at least 16% protein.) Old, rancid feed is not going to meet their needs. Feed starts to oxidize immediately after milling. The nutrient value is compromised 6 weeks after milling. Check the mill date on the sew strip on the bottom of your feed bag. I would also supply a good quality multi vit in addition to their feed. When I add extra vitamins, I have found an immediate improvement in shell quality, as well as improvement in the entire egg.

IMO, egg eating is associated with weak shelled eggs, is often a seasonal issue. Habitual egg eaters are not common. All chickens are opportunistic. Feeding egg shell, or even eggs to a flock is not going to turn them into a flock of egg eaters. Egg shells are best to be left large, not ground up fine, and fed towards the end of the day.
 
Sep 20, 2017
276
305
156
Washington State
Egg shells are best to be left large, not ground up fine, and fed towards the end of the day.

What's the reason for leaving egg shells large? I've been grinding them to about the size of red pepper flakes per a friend's advice. Also, interesting that you say that it's best to feed the egg shells towards the end of the day. We feed them free choice and there is always a container with ground egg shells in the coop which we continually replenish. Our chickens help themselves to the shells at any time but I did notice that they tend to eat more shells in the evening, as they file back into the coop at dusk. I wonder why...
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,066
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Leaving them large keeps them in the digestive tract for a longer period of time, And feeding them in the evening puts that calcium in their tract in the evening when the egg is in transit past the shell gland. (at least that's what a recent study I read indicated.) Interesting that your flock seems to chow the shells in the evening!
 

MANNA-PRO

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