If you are someone that relies on chickens’ eggs for income or as a source of food, you may not like the idea of chickens eating eggs. It will not only be an annoying mess but also can be dreadful.
With the help of detailed research, I have gathered all the necessary information to help you find out whether these birds are egg eaters.
Do chickens eat eggs?
Chickens are egg eaters. They often eat their eggs in the wild whereas, in captivity, they can build up the habit of eating eggs.
When chickens once discover the egg’s content, get its taste, and find it to be nice food, they may start feeding on them regularly. However, their egg-eating habit can create quite a few problems for them as well as for their owners.
The egg-eating can cause a sticky mess in their surroundings or feathers, thus attracting pests. Whereas, the owners who rear chickens for fresh eggs do not appreciate an egg eater in their flock.
A single egg-eating chicken can influence the others in the flock, thus, creating a larger problem.
Do chickens eat eggshells?
Chickens eat eggshells just like they eat the other contents of eggs. Chicken keepers often feed them crushed eggshells.
Will a rooster eat eggs?
Yes, Just like a chicken, a rooster can eat eggs. They can easily adapt to the egg-eating behavior of chickens. Once they get addicted to the taste of the egg, they may search nest boxes to find the eggs and feed on them.
Why do chickens eat their eggs?
There can be several reasons why chickens start eating their eggs. The most common reasons among all are:
1. Lack of Nutritious Diet
The deficiency of the most essential nutrients like calcium and protein can cause egg eating. Even if you feed your chickens, there can be a chance that they are not getting a balanced diet.
To increase the calcium or protein levels, the chicken may feed on the supplemented diet of eggs.
2. Broken Eggs
Chickens are quite fast at eating anything that appears like food and therefore, when they find broken eggs in their surroundings, curiously lap up the inside contents of the broken egg. And once the chicken develops the taste for eggs, she will forever go after them.
The breakage of eggs can happen when you collect eggs and a few get slipped or maybe because of a crowded chicken coop where the hen can easily step on an egg. There can be numerous ways that can lead to breakage and ultimately to the egg-eating habit in your flock.
If your chickens are dehydrated for a long period, they can end up pecking at their eggs to eat the inside content for hydration. This is because of the large proportion of water in eggs.
When the chickens remain stressed, they may end up building egg-eating behavior. The potential stressors in chicken’s lives can be-
- Lack of food
How to figure out which chickens are eating eggs?
You can figure out the egg-eating chickens by looking out the remains of yolk on their beaks as well as feathers. The other way to find out is by listening to the sound of breaking eggs into the shells and following the sound to find the source of it.
You may even use some food colors to fill inside the egg by using a needle and syringe. So, when the chicken breaks the egg, you can see the colors inside the egg on the chickens’ feathers and their surroundings. You may use any color but it’s better if you avoid using red.
How to stop chickens from eating eggs?
1. Provide more space and entertainment
Adding more space can prevent the breakage of eggs which further can help to halt the egg-eating behavior. Make sure that there aren’t more than 4 chickens in one nest box. The box should be positioned above the grounds.
Giving space to the hens to roam around can help them get rid of boredom and cabin fever which are the reasons for egg eating. The boredom busters such as hanging chicken swings treat blocks, or toys can be installed to keep them busy and entertained.
2. Make adequate water and feed available to chickens
Make sure that your hens remain hydrated and receive all the necessary nutrition. Adding higher calcium and protein feeds can help in making up for the deficiencies. You can use mealworms and oyster shells as a supplement of protein and calcium respectively.
Sometimes even after providing the right food, you may find egg eaters. In such a case, the quality may not be the reason but the quantity. It may also happen that some dominant chickens are not letting the lower ones access food. Thus, it is necessary to provide several feeding stations.
3. Collect eggs in regular intervals
The egg-eating can eventually stop if the hens do not find them. Collecting the eggs often, sometimes several times a day can break the habit easily. The piled-up eggs are more prone to get crushed or broken and even can make your chickens broody.
4. Change your chickens’ bedding
Line the base of the nesting boxes with soft material such as straws, hay, or pads so that when eggs land, they hit the soft material and do not get broken.
Investing in good-quality bedding such as roll-away nest boxes can break the egg-eating habit in chickens. The roll-away boxes have compartments that separate the eggs from the chicken as soon as they are laid. Make sure that their boxes aren’t dirty.
Installing nest box curtains to keep their nesting area dark can prevent the birds from pecking and eating eggs. This is because the birds aren’t able to see well in the dark.
5. Put some fake eggs in nest boxes
Placing dummy eggs can help in breaking their egg-eating habit as the chickens when try to peck the eggs, find them impenetrable. They will then soon give up pecking the real ones as well.
6. Isolate the offenders
Separating the offending chickens from the flock will help in preventing the other chickens from learning the behavior of egg eating. Take some time out to find the culprit and then separate it for some time as it may take time to break its habit.
7. Keep soap and mustard inside an eggshell
The fact that chickens hate the taste of mustard and soap can help you in breaking their egg-eating habit. You can fill mustard and dish soap in an empty eggshell and place them inside their nest boxes. So, when the hens peck the egg, the taste of its inside contents turns them off.