How to Stop Chickens from Eating Eggs
Kevin Felts 09.29.17
One of the issues facing people who have chickens is that sooner or later the chickens will figure out there is some yummy stuff in the egg. This usually happens when an egg gets cracked somehow. The chicken sees the juice coming out of the egg, and from there the game is on.
I used to have a young rooster that would stay near the laying boxes. When a hen would get ready to lay, the rooster would stand next to her. As soon as she got off the nest, the young cannibal would break the egg open and eat it.
The final straw was when that rooster destroyed the nest of a broody hen. She got up to get some feed and he walked over, broke the eggs open, and ate the half-developed embryos. I just happened to be near the chicken house when it happened. I heard her throwing a fit, walked over to the chicken house, and looked in. That rooster met an untimely death at the end of a 1911 a few minutes later.
Some chickens are good, while some are bad. That rooster was a bad one. And once the egg-eating habit starts, it can be difficult to stop.
One solution is to collect the eggs as often as possible. However, it is impossible for someone to stand at the laying boxes all day waiting for a hen to lay.
Ceramic eggs look and feel just like real eggs. The only way I can tell real eggs from the ceramic is to hold a flashlight to the back of the egg. The real egg will allow some light through, while the ceramic egg will block the light.
- Buy three ceramic eggs for each laying box.
- Mark the ceramic eggs with a magic marker. Maybe put an X on one side. Some people say mark the end of the egg. However, I do not want the chickens to see the marks. As dumb as chickens may be, they can learn.
- If they see a mark on the end of the egg, the chicken may learn they cannot break the marked ones. Thus, they will figure out which eggs are real, and which are artificial.
- Arrange the eggs so they are in a natural-looking position. This means they are touching each other and would resemble a nest of laid eggs. Make sure the marks on the eggs are facing down.
- Collect the real eggs as often as possible.
A chicken will go into the laying box, see the ceramic eggs, think it is about to have a meal, peck the eggs and nothing happens. From there, the chicken may roll the egg around trying to break it. Eventually the chicken will give up and go on its merry way.
When I first started using ceramic eggs, I would find nests destroyed. Sometimes the eggs would be several inches apart. It was clear that one or more chickens had tried to break the ceramic eggs. Sometimes it is not just a single chicken. I have seen three birds in one nest feasting on eggs. They eat the yolk and shell. The only way I knew there was an egg, is because the nesting material was wet. (I left my ceramic eggs unmarked until after the chickens stopped destroying the nests.)
A few weeks later, the nests are staying intact, and I am getting more eggs.