egg cannibilisation

firefowl

Songster
6 Years
Dec 31, 2013
75
41
111
Temperate Australia
I had a flock of chickens that started eating their own eggs. I would find dried up egg yolk in their nesting boxes and sometimes empty shells.

I killed all my chickens in that flock except for one which I hoped wasn't doing it because I was seeing it's eggs. So I had one chicken from my old flock, I bought 4 new layers that were a few weeks away from laying.

So they started laying (small eggs, but that's another issue) and all seemed fine. Now I find there is a spot outside of their enclosure where they go lay eggs everyday and crack them open and eat the yolks. I see the busted eggs their everyday with the yolks hanging out. It's highly unlikely that they lay them there and other birds crack them open and eat them though I haven't seen them in the act. My previous flock did the same.

I am very angry right now because it seems like I have to kill my entire flock of 5 birds and start again - AGAIN.

is there any solution that doesn't involve me doing this?
 
Nov 5, 2018
793
1,487
247
Birmingham UK
You do not have to cull egg eating hens. It is a hard habit to break but it can be done.

First consider why the hens are not laying in the nest boxes. What are the nest boxes like? Are they dark enough, easily accessible, are there enough of them, is there enough good bedding inside? Overcrowding, too much light and shortage of bedding can lead to broken eggs that are too enticing for the birds to resist.

The fact that they are laying outside indicates they are dissatisfied with the nest boxes. Could there be an issue of one or more hens bullying the others when they are trying to lay? Is your coop set up generally spacious enough?

Have you tried using dummy eggs to encourage them to lay in the nest boxes? Hard dummy eggs also help deter egg eating because they try to break them and when they cannot they learn that eggs are not edible. It's also important to collect eggs as often as possible so they don't sit around.

You could also try making or buying neat boxes designed for the egg to gently roll away into a kind of ditch where the hens can't get them.

Then there are the methods of discouraging egg eating by leaving unpleasant tasting fake or hollowed out eggs around. Vinegar or mustard filled eggs usually work to put hens off.

Also consider if the hens have enough protein in their diet.
 

21hens-incharge

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
26,182
108,656
1,672
Northern Colorado
You do not have to cull egg eating hens. It is a hard habit to break but it can be done.

First consider why the hens are not laying in the nest boxes. What are the nest boxes like? Are they dark enough, easily accessible, are there enough of them, is there enough good bedding inside? Overcrowding, too much light and shortage of bedding can lead to broken eggs that are too enticing for the birds to resist.

The fact that they are laying outside indicates they are dissatisfied with the nest boxes. Could there be an issue of one or more hens bullying the others when they are trying to lay? Is your coop set up generally spacious enough?

Have you tried using dummy eggs to encourage them to lay in the nest boxes? Hard dummy eggs also help deter egg eating because they try to break them and when they cannot they learn that eggs are not edible. It's also important to collect eggs as often as possible so they don't sit around.

You could also try making or buying neat boxes designed for the egg to gently roll away into a kind of ditch where the hens can't get them.

Then there are the methods of discouraging egg eating by leaving unpleasant tasting fake or hollowed out eggs around. Vinegar or mustard filled eggs usually work to put hens off.

Also consider if the hens have enough protein in their diet.

X2.

What are they being fed?
What are the nests like?
Nesting material?

By the way....New layers will lay small eggs at first. Size increases over the first couple months of laying.
 

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