PUNISHMENT idea for egg eaters


Sep 14, 2015
I've got a problem. We have had a recent outbreak of egg eating. I love my girls, and I don't want them to end up in the stew pot.

So, having a Ph.D. in Education with a solid background in psychology, I want to approach this scientifically. So when you're trying to shape behavior, there are four ways to do it: positive and negative reinforcement (add or subtract something to *increase* a behavior) and positive and negative punishment (add or subtract something to *decrease* a behavior). Neither positive nor negative reinforcement will do the job, because those would be for increasing the girls' behaviors, and we want to decrease (to extinction) the behavior of pecking on eggs.

So we're down to positive and negative punishment. I either add a negative experience when they peck the eggs or take away a positive thing when they peck the egg. I can't be there to take something away. BUT...

I got some nice wooden eggs in the mail today. I'm thinking that if I could just coat them with something like what you'd find inside a blasting cap, or bang snaps or throw bangers--those things kids throw on the ground and the explode. Just a little explosion. Enough to make you back up a step or two, right?

Anybody else see this with me? Or am I just an evil chicken mommy?

PS: It's really hard to get a chicken wearing a sign to STAND STILL.
I've read that golfballs should be used as a preventive...

Spanking works with my rooster and hens.

I'm the kind of mommy that doesn't do this very often, so it works with all my animals per my Mothers disciplinarian techniques. Shes also a teacher! ;)

Hope that helps and good luck.
Why not look at why they are eating egg in the first place?
That would be the real scientific way.......you know, cause and effect?

Wait..... is this a joke?
Blasting caps..... really?
Sounds like a good way to injure the chickens beak/face/wattles.
That's the problem--I don't want to damage, just make a little bang to frighten the birds away from that behavior. Not sure it's possible. I'd need an expert with those materials.

On another note, a friend of mine who does research on animal behaviors mentioned that methyl anthranilate *is* something that the birds can taste and dislike (scientifically demonstrated, as opposed to the pepper and mustard theories floating around), so I might just coat these eggs (and maybe a couple of real ones) with that stuff. It's on its way!
But have you looked at why?
That would be the most intelligent, educated, and scientific approach.....IMO.
Chicken usually eat eggs because they are lacking in nutrients and/or are under stimulated in other ways ('bored').

What and how exactly are you feeding?
How many birds, and what ages, do you have?
How big is their coop and run (feet by feet)?
Pics of coop and run might help spot an issue.

If you haven't examined these other problems/solutions...putting nasty stuff on the eggs may not truly 'solve' the problem.
Do they give Ph.D's out to anyone these days....?

Anyone who knows anything about science, as you claim to be an expert in the field, would know that coating an egg with an explosive substance would just about be the worst idea to stop getting chickens to eat eggs. First of all, a way to get them to pop would be nearly impossible, since the explosion is caused by the ignition of a spark caused by the force of being thrown on the ground. Second, letting a chicken eating an explosive substance is highly irresponsible and a good way to kill them.

I sincerely hope you were joking, but the way you said it makes me think otherwise.
Seriously?! Any person with a PhD with a background in psychology should be able to realize that chickens don't rationalize like people. They aren't eating eggs to cause trouble or anything. They are most likely doing it because the eggs contain some nutrient that they are lacking. A truly scientific mind will try to find the why, rather than try to correct the behavior. The question should not be 'How do I stop this?' The question is 'Why are they doing this in the first place?'
What are you feeding? How often do you give treats? What kind of treats do they get? How big is the coop? How big is the run? What breeds are the birds? How old are your birds?
All are things we need to know, in order to help you solve the egg eating issue.
Behaviorist principles have nothing to do with rationalization. Worms learn and and even habituate based on stimuli and responses (I've been talking to my animal behaviorist researcher friends, actually). If stimulus-response methods can condition a worm to behave in a particular way, I'm quite certain it can shape chicken behavior.

Picture in your mind Foghorn Leghorn of Looney Tunes fame. Picture him holding a stick of dynamite. BOOM! All his feathers fly off. That is NOT what I've actually got in mind. Rest assured!

What I am serious about is making some sort of unpleasant noise or other unpleasant experience. These girls have already picked up a propensity. We're about to move to greener pastures (literally) in a few weeks, so I've just got a couple of weeks to wait until they're completely free range. I'm quite certain that any issues of nutrient deficiency or boredom will resolve at that point. We just have to get to the move. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to put an idea out there that may not be feasible but sounded entertaining.

If you're offended, don't worry--I'm not going to blow up any chickens. Never my intention! But it is a thought experiment that, after some feedback from a friend who knows the scientific literature about bird behavior, might pan out to something worthwhile. Has anybody else out there tried coating wooden eggs with methyl anthranilate? I'm going to give it a try and report back.
You need to figure WHY the birds are eating eggs BEFORE you can 'fix' the behavior. It doesn't matter what you do to the eggs. The second you stop, they will be back at it if you don't solve the why. If you want the problem fixed for good, you need to answer the questions that have been asked.

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