how to stop chickens from eating the eggs!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mrsfayoumis, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. mrsfayoumis

    mrsfayoumis New Egg

    Jul 1, 2012
    I have 40 chickens and just recently I started getting maybe 1 or 2 eggs a day. This coincided with my husband cleaning the chicken house and removing the old broken nest boxes, so I thought that maybe the hens were stressed about that until I found empty egg shells in the house, so someone is eating my eggs! If I am home on the weekends I try to collect eggs 3 or 4 times a day but by the time I get home from work during the week all I find are a couple of shells.
    I have tried filling an egg with hot sauce and one with mustard ( things I read on line) but neither helped they ate those too!
    Any ideas on how to stop the cannibal chicken?
    I also have a problem with roosters hanging out in the house and causing the hens to squawk and fuss, I have never had this problem before, unless its the roosters that are eating the eggs, I cant figure out why roosters would be in there bothering the hens?
  2. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2011
    Rison, Arkansas
    The best way to stop the egg eating would be to remove the guilty bird(s). I know this may read impossible.

    You can also try increasing the amount of calcium in their diet. Many times the birds may eat eggs to get extra calcium or they are just hungry. Try adding oyster shell.
  3. CluckyJay

    CluckyJay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    Crossville, Tennessee
    Install roll-away nest boxes so they never get the chance to eat one. This will also keep your egg eater from teaching other chickens to eat eggs. Or you can eat the chicken. Egg-fattened hens, they are tasty. :)
    1 person likes this.
  4. MaureenC

    MaureenC Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2011
    I have rollaway nest boxes, but they have figured out how to keep the egg from rolling down, & peck them open. I get 5 pecked open eggs per day from 6 chickens - once in awhile I get a whole one but it's the exception.

    Also they poop all over the eggs too. Even before they started eating the eggs, all of the eggs were covered in poop. Every day.

    And now they are eating them. This has been a very disappointing experience overall.

    They are buff orpingtons, and just started laying in January, so I was hoping the poopy egg thing would work itself out. But it's gone from bad to worse.

    They have grit and oyster shell free choice, and they have a feeder with crumble & get treats 2x a day.

    I'm soooo discouraged & thinking I'm going to get rid of these hens & start over. (or maybe just go back to buying eggs - it is a LOT less expensive!)

    But if I do get new chicks, what can I do to keep the same thing from happening all over again?

    I can't sell these as laying hens - and I'm not willing to kill them myself - what should I do with them? I guess craigslist as meat hens maybe?
  5. smilingcat

    smilingcat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    Birds do not have a taste bud for the hot taste. They have no receptors for capsaicin, the active ingredient that gives the painful burning sensation. Pouring hot sauce or mustard on an empty shell will not deter the chicken.

    Once the bird learns the egg eating behavior, it is almost impossible to undo the behavior. The offending bird will also teach other birds to do the same. Best thing is to cull the offending bird. Some have tried by "baiting" the offending bird with a hard ceramic egg whose surface texture mimics the real egg. Some say it worked, others say it didn't. We tried this method but then again we are checking the coop multiple times a day for eggs or hens sitting ready to lay an egg.

    If you can't check multiple times a day, only real solution is to cull the bird.

    To keep the bird from learning this behavior, it's important to remove any fresh egg before it is accidentally broken then eaten. Other thing is to make sure you have enough oyster shells for their diet, and make sure there is enough protein for their diet.
  6. devora

    devora Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do you have a wooden egg in each nestbox?

    I have had egg eaters that stopped. I made sure they had access to all the oyster shell they wanted (so the eggs never broke accidentally to tempt them into eating again).

    And I collected often. I made a point of collected at each egg song. So often. Hard during the week, I know.

    If you can find the original offending bird you could cull her. Easier said than done all the way 'round.

    Welcome to BYC and good luck.
  7. burnyourmoney

    burnyourmoney Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 30, 2012
    Bright, ON
    Your birds may be telling you that they have a deficiency in their diet. Do they have nice pasture to free range on?
  8. MaureenC

    MaureenC Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2011
    Thanks for the speedy replies everybody! I really appreciate you all so much.

    I do check for eggs multiple times a day (I work at home, so I visit them & take out treats) but I have rollaway nest boxes, and as soon as they lay, the girls keep the egg from rolling down and peck it open.

    So when I stick my hand in to check the rollaway chute, I pull out a gooey sticky mess of broken eggshells and poop. yuck.

    How do you keep them from pooping in there? They never roost in there so that's not the issue...

    They don't eat the whole egg - just as much as possible before it rolls away from them.

    The shells are all very hard - and they have all the oyster shell they want... As far as protein they are on Del's layer - maybe I should switch to different food? I will go tomorrow and get something else.

    Can't free range them because our soil is arsenic contaminated (Tacoma Asarco Smelter) I do give them lots of greens grown in my raised beds though, and scrap veggies, etc.

    Unfortunately I suspect it is not just one bird but rather all of them who are egg eating.

    I coaxed a broody out of the nest box to drink the other day, and she came out COVERED in poop and broken egg shells - and she was so sticky that 2 eggs were stuck to her feathers (gross) and so she could hardly walk. All the other birds DOVE for those eggs stuck to her IMMEDIATELY and started pecking at them like it was their favorite treat.

    Is it normal for a broody to sit in the box pooping and eating eggs?

    My broodies also gets really sticky because one girl still occasionally lays a shell-less egg and squirts it all over the broody. (often 2 girls go in the box at a time) So whoever is broody is always matted with poop and egg, with shells stuck all over her - it's a complete stinky, sticky mess.

    Maybe they got the taste for egg from the girl who lays the shell-less eggs? (I can't figure out who it is though!) She still does it once a week or so.

    They have 2x more run and coop space than recommended so I don't think it's overcrowding. (6 birds in a 16x4' run, coop is 4x8, 8' long roost) And 2 nest boxes. They lay equally between the 2 boxes, and peck open equally in both boxes.

    If they are doing these behaviors because they can't free range, then I guess there is no point in trying again with another batch... I'm so so sad!

    Thanks for your encouragement & advice everyone! Maybe switching to a different food will help... I'll keep you all updated!
  9. MaureenC

    MaureenC Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2011
    Oh and I forgot to mention that usually they get fed egg yolks scrambled with feed & scratch every day (hubby won't eat yolks) - but for the past couple of weeks they've been getting 5 pecked open eggs scrambled with feed & scratch mixed in every day - so protein is probably not the issue either

    I know they are not smart enough to figure out that if they peck it open they get it back scrambled - ha ha.
  10. MaureenC

    MaureenC Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2011
    OK my husband (who has almost nothing to do with the chickens, even though he is the only egg eater) hit on an idea - he took treats (scratch, leftovers, etc) out for them early in the morning. (I usually don't take out treats until the afternoon)

    The 2 days that he has done this, they have not pecked open the eggs when I go to collect them in the afternoon and again in the early evening.

    My guess is that they were hungry, but were preferring the eggs to their boring old crumble.

    Will keep you posted - I know it's only 2 days, but there is hope now! :)
    2 people like this.

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