Hens eating broken eggs--AARRRGGHHH


11 Years
Jan 20, 2009
East Central Illinois
I KNOW my hens are well-fed--when I bring the can of layer crumbles, there are almost ALWAYS crumbles left form the last feeding. BUT, when an egg breaks, they crowd around the eat the contents!!
The first time I saw this behavior I had accidently broken an egg, and one hen started eating it. This was the same hen that was picking on "Fanny", my 2 yr RIR hen, who was recently introduced to the 7 month old flock (of 7 hens, since their brothers went to freezer camp last week.) Sooo... I put her in Fanny's old cage to help Fanny get fed--Fanny has been doing a lot of roosting, but she does go inside at night with the others, so she's doing okay.
I was going to rotate out on pullet/hen at a time to test whether the "egg-eater" was laying herself, and would need to be yet another dinner for us.
Then, yesterday, an egg was laid outside, in the grit bowl. One of my dogs goes in the pen with me--she's the one NOT interested in the birds. My dog broke that egg and 4 hens rushed to eat it!!!
What should I do?
I don't want to eat 1/2 my flock. Anybody got an advice?
As long as they're not eating the unbroken eggs it should be fine. I break up egg shells and feed them to my girls all the time, no problems. If they start cracking whole eggs open and eating them then I might start culling the offending chickens.
mine get their eggs sometimes too and LOVE them. If I go to collect and already have a ton I'll let them have one or if they are just really dirty. It's good nutrition for them and normal for them to go after them like you were describing. I would be upset though if they were actually breaking their own open but as long as it's the accidentally broken ones or extra's you are giving them on occasstion it shouldn't be a problem...more like a special treat for them. no worries.
Mine ate a couple of broken eggs (I didn't give them to them) and then started hunting eggs and waiting for the other girls to get out of their nest boxes. Upon observation it seemed that most of them were doing it, if not all the time. I try to collect eggs several times/day but I work shift work and sometimes they get locked up before lunch because of that. A friend of mine suggested they might have a protein deficiency and I should feed them a few handfuls of cheap dry cat food (30%). After about a week of free choice cat food I didn't have any more egg eating problems. Now they get cat food every day. I NEVER give my girls eggs unless they've been boiled and chopped into unrecognizable mush and added to their other treats.
lleighmay is right that it's sometimes caused by not enough protein; when I went through this issue, I did supplement (not free choice) with dry cat food, but I only threw in a few handfulls twice a week; when they were cured of the nasty habit, I stopped supplementing with dry cat food, as too much protein is not good - very hard on their kidneys.

I do throw in handfulls of BOSS (black oil sunflower seed) a few times a week now - it's got good protein in it, and it's easier on their systems.
These are GREAT observations. Thanks, all!!
Now that I have harvested roosters, it wouldn't be as hard to harvest a hen, but I didn't want to after I discovered months ago that I would have not 4, but 8 layers this fall. I don't have any sunflowers, but I know where I can buy the seeds. I DO have cat food, however. But, why is there a protein deficiency if I am already feeding layer feed and offering grit and oyster shell?
It's not necessarily a protein deficiency; it could be, but it would be awfully hard to know for sure. It's just one of the common causes.

BTW, love your avatar - too cute!
DAAWW!!, thanks, Wynette

"Duck" is the name my family affectionately calls me. Even THEY wonder why I have chickens instead of ducks. DD found me this pic and I HAD to use it.
Back to topic---I'll try the cat food tonight. Meanwhile I AM having fun rotating out one hen at a time. I get a chance to see how often they each lay and how big each egg is per bird. I'm using nail polish to color code the young hens. 8 nails/bird, therefore 64 possible ways to code, right? Surprisingly the Queen hen is, at 7 months, laying eggs as big as Fanny's.
That's cute on your nickname - I must ask, though: Do you waddle? HA! JK!!!!

Good idea on the nail polish, and YOWZA on those honkin' eggs!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom