Egg eating gone wild!


13 Years
Aug 2, 2009
Southwestern Washington State
Over the past couple of weeks we noticed an extreme drop in the number of eggs as well as found pecked eggs. When we watched closer, we have discovered egg eaters! Out of my 23 chickens I've already isolated four and today discovered at least one more, one that is actually a new pullet I just purchased a few months ago an hasn't even begun to lay!
It started with one hen and it spread through my flock really quickly.
I even have five babies that are just a few months old recently introduced to the flock and I'm worried all may have been ruined by witnessing this behavior and learning to peck open the eggs to eat.

I want to beautiful new EEs, my Buff Orpingtons and even my new babies.......I am having a hard time figuring out how to tell who is doing this. I know egg production should be less this time of year but I am getting NO eggs unless we are actually out there when one lays or just gets up. We do see them going into the nest boxes, but others are going in there trying to find the eggs!
We observed one RIR hen we call our little red hen, who protects her egg and two of my hens raised the chicks and sat on eggs quite nicely for several weeks so I think they are okay, and I'd like to try and save the babies. But how can I make sure we cull the right chickens? I'm afraid if I just put the "bad" ones all together with the suspects, more and more will learn this. I have just two coops. Right now I have four confirmed egg eaters in the "bad" coop waiting to go to freezer camp. But they were our favorites so we are having a hard time thinking of them as dinner, but we watched them run right over if they see an egg and will start to peck at it within a few minutes. But others are doing it too and I don't know how to tell whom. We have a roo too, that could be one of the culprits, and he is a great roo.

I'm extremely discouraged and any encouragement or advice that can be offered for our situation would be appreciated. My hubby is thinking perhaps we should have made a nest box system where the eggs roll away for safekeeping would have been better, we just have the old fashioned boxes with a curtain. But at this point I'm worried my whole flock is ruined and can't even collect many eggs to incubate more from them!
I really don't know the answer but I can tell you what I did. I went out to check for eggs several days ago and got out there just in time to see a hen running from the coop with an egg shell in her mouth and everyone else chasing her. I THINK what happened is someone laid an egg on the floor...I only say that because it had happened a couple of days before...the egg on the floor but I found it before anything happened to it.

So, I was fearful that they would all start looking for eggs to eat. I started going out at the time I KNEW they were laying and giving treats. I took BOSS out there and spread it through out the run to get their attention and to give them something to distract them. I did it for three days and did not see any signs of broken/eaten eggs. This morning I was sick and only went out there once and it was a little later......there were five eggs and two nests both had two each. There have been no more laid on the floor that I can tell. I went back out later to check their water and regular feed and there were four more eggs. I only have 11 hens in that coop and got 9 eggs from that coop today.

What I THINK the answer for me was the treats to distract them and to give them something else to do beside wait around for an egg to be laid. I am in hopes they will forget to get them! I know it can happen again if one should get broken. But for now I am going with distraction.

I usually vary the treats I give them. Greens, BOSS and sometimes yogurt or cottage cheese. But mornings is when mine are laying mostly and the BOSS is the easiest plus I can really spread it through out the run and they hunt for it.

Maybe, especially for the ones you have removed into another coop if you would try this and check them regularly during the laying time you can break the cycle. I don't know that it will work but maybe it seems to have for me.

Good Luck.....
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It can be super tough to stop once it's started. Many people (myself included) cull the egg eaters, but with such a large number of chooks involved that would be heartbreaking. I've seen plans on here for a roll-away nest box so maybe you can check that out. If you're not familiar with the concept it's a nest box with a slanted bottom that allows the eggs to roll down to a padded collection area. The egg doesn't stay in the box after it's layed so the egg eating hens are out of luck. It is also usefull for those folks who have crows that have figured out that there is more to eat in the hen house then chicken food.
That is right....about the roll away nest box. You can do a search and several threads will come up about roll away nest boxes. There is a fella that put pictures on of the one he makes. THAT is a really good answer for the problem. I am waiting on my husband to come home for him to address a way for us to have the roll away nest box.

I would for sure try it before culling laying hens and see if that will stop it! I had forgotten about the roll aways.
I think it was Opa who posted the plans, not totally sure though and last time I tried to find it the pics wouldn't come up--probably did a clean up to get some more storage space, but I bet he'd email or pm the plans to you if you wanted them.
Does Opa have the picture of the old cowboy for his avatar? If so that is who it is. (actually it is an actor from a western movie and I can't remember his name)
I think so, Sam Elliot? My desktop got hit with a nast virus awhile back and I haven't been able to take it in and see what I can retrieve from it yet so I don't have access to all the "future reference" threads I had saved.

is the link for Opa's rollaway design. I keep wooden eggs in the nest boxes...they really hurt their beak when they try to open those. You might also up the amount of calcium you give the layers to harden the shells. I like the idea of taking treats when most are laying and you should also gather often. IDK. I've learned not to cull at the drop of a hat. Try several different options and if that fails then do what you gotta do. Good luck.
Do you give them oyster shell free choice? I had a small problem start with egg eating in some buff silkies, but making sure they had oyster shell at all times seems to have nipped it in the bud. I think they needed the calcium from the egg shell.
Other people have posted on here about filling "empty" eggs with salt of very hot pepper so that they decide they don't like the taste of eggs.

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