Ughh... Egg Eaters... A LOT of them...


9 Years
Jun 19, 2010
San Diego, CA
I have a problem... I haven't been getting very many eggs for a while now and figured I have at least one egg eater... However, yesterday and today I did a field test where I put an egg in front of each chicken on the ground and watched their reactions. I have AT LEAST 3 Delawares and 1 Wyandotte that are pecking at the eggs trying to open them. AND they are teaching it to my Wheaten Ameraucana pullets... WHAT DO I DO? I have never come across having so many of them at once do this. They have organic layer pellets free fed, free choice oyster shell and get a BIG scoop of BOSS every morning. I am at a loss... this sucks!
I really don't want to have to kill half my flock, I really like these chickens.
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I read that a lot of people take the cracked open egg, fill it with yellow mustard and put it in the nest box....when the hen gets a mouthful of mustard, they don't like it and after a few days of it, will stop eating the eggs....not sure if it works - only one of mine is laying and she just started Sunday
Also, I think if you collect the eggs more frequently, so they don't have time to decide if it looks tasty, may help. Good luck!
Oh no, if they are ALL doing it, that is not an easy thing to break! If the mustard is going to work, you are going to have to be really diligent about grabbing the eggs as soon as they are laid because I have seen them lay an egg then turn straight around and eat it! I had to "reset" my flock last year, we were on vacation and the person I had paid to tend my coop fed them, watered them, and totally forgot about getting eggs, and I came back to no eggs and a coop of egg eaters. I tried everything, but they knew that was self made food! So I finally got an incubator, diligently gathered enough eggs to fill it up, and culled the lot of them.
I observe that eggs on the ground are a written invitation to pecking. I read that it is natural for hens to peck eggs, essentially an instinctive test of shell hardness/viability. (If the shell breaks, then it's good to eat it, because it may not have hatched anyway.)

Are they using your nesting boxes? Are the nests in a good private place, with good temperature, good access, cozy, well bedded, etc.? Are they confined to an area with the boxes? Maybe try a rollaway design?
Egg eating is a really hard habit to break! The best thing to do is to get a roll away nest box, or cull your egg eaters. You can try the mustard trick, but I have heard folks have limited success with it. Some people also put fake eggs in so that when the chickens try to eat the egg and are unsuccessful they eventually give up trying- but again I don't know how well this works in the long run.
You can try ceramic eggs, too. They'll peck them and won't be able to break them open, so they should give up.

Also, changing the environment of the suspected egg eaters could help too, do you have different pens for your flocks? Pull the egg eaters from their "comfort zone" and put 'em in where they'll have to deal with reshuffling the pecking order. They might get so caught up by trying to be the top hen that they forget all about the delicious treats that they lay.

You do need to be diligent about collecting eggs though, don't leave them setting in the boxes.
I broke my egg-eaters by simply spending a whole lot of time with them and disciplining them when they showed interest in eggs. Chickens "disagree" with one another by pecking, and if something is REALLY wrong they'll bite the back of the offender's neck and push the head to the ground, holding them there until they relax. The key to that is that you MUST wait until they have RELAXED. Not when they stop struggling, but when their muscles release all the tension and they relax. Also, just holding the head down can hurt the chicken if they struggle, so you may want to place one hand on their back to restrain them from jumping around and hurting themselves, but DO NOT put too much pressure on their backs / chests. Birds do not have diaphragms, so they must use their entire chest cavity to expand and contract their lungs to breathe, so if you restrain TOO MUCH it can suffocate them.

My girls would eat their eggs because they were bored, which is really the leading cause of egg-eating. They're bored and don't have anything to play with or occupy themselves with ( and free ranging isn't an all-engaging activity - chickens do more than eat and forage, and sometimes they'll just want to explore or play ), but they have this egg to peck at and roll around. I've seen a video of roosters playing soccer ( with a bunny, at that! ), and chickens playing with cat toys that are a ball on a spring that hangs from a verticle stick that's stuck into a base ( kind of like a springy may pole ), and there's even chicken agility and obstacle courses!

To keep my girls occupied I rolled up bits of newspaper and gave it to them to play with, and took them out on trips often. I've trained my chickens to ride the handlebars of my bike, and for the chickens that aren't as comfortable on handle bars I have a belly-bag for them. They LOVE bike rides and seeing new places and meeting new people. They bask in the attention they get when I bring them into the city. They'll even start making a fuss when I haven't taken them out recently enough. My roosters are so happy they hardly ever crow, and when they do they're trying to tell me that I haven't paid them enough mind recently! So long as I keep them occupied and feeling safe, my chickens are pretty quiet.

To keep them from eating their eggs, I would place eggs in front of them, and when they tried to go for the egg, or even showed the slightest bit of attention I would "disagree" with them by giving them a hardy "peck" ( poke with one or two fingers ). Aiming for the top of the head is what chickens will most often do to others, but you can also "peck" their backs or thighs. The idea is NOT to hurt them or send them reeling or anything like that, but rather to break their concentration and refocus it elsewhere. Make sure you have a treat on you, so that whenever they clearly IGNORE the egg, they get a treat.

It took me about a week or two to retain my girls. I have no problems today, and I still have the girls that were egg eaters about a year ago. I understand that taking the time out to train your chickens isn't in everyone's schedule, but I would highly advise that people start using training as an invaluable tool in chicken keeping since they are highly intelligent and social animals, capable of recognising over 150 individual faces and voices for up to three years, grieving the loss of flock mates, learning from observation ( even watching television ), and much, much more.

I train, rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome chickens as a hobby and occasionally for hire. If you are interested, you can check out my blog [here] , and if you have any specific inquiries, feel free to Email me. I hope you manage to fix your flock problems!

I separated all the Other chickens from the Ameraucanas, hopefully I didn't separate them too late. Hopefully the Ameraucanas didn't learn it. We'll find out today as I put some broiler eggs in there for them to sit on.

The Others are having a hard time adjusting to the new coop and laying boxes. They seem confused.

I'll have to leave everyone like this until I figure out what to do.
A week or so ago, I accidentally broke an egg while removing it from the coop. My two girls and one roo jumped on it and started eating right away. I got it out of there as quickly as I could. The girls continued laying eggs normally, and I collected them. Then, this weekend, they layed eggs and tried to (well, did) eat them. Now I can't be home to pick up the egg the minute it is layed, so what am I to do? I am very upset about this, and what I read online all says the same thing. Either pick them up right after they are layed, replace an open one with mustard and hot sauce to discourage more egg eating, put golf balls in or fake eggs and that might break them of the habit. I need to do something and something fast because it also says that the longer than do this, the harder it is to break them of the habit. Does anyone have a solution that is successful? I have two OEGB hens and one roo. I think they are all three eating the egg. Their diet is yogurt, worms, laying crumbles, occasional BOSS and occasional scratch. Thank you! Please help!

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