Nov 25, 2016

Chickens Eating Eggs

I have learned a lot of things about chickens, like that they can get avian pox. But one thing that surprised me was that chickens like to eat eggs. Chickens can eat eggs cooked or raw. It's not uncommon for them to peck at the eggs left in their nesting boxes. I would have thought it's some cannibalistic thing and they would avoid eating eggs, but I was wrong.

So we started keeping an eye out after learning eating their own eggs was a risk. But we had gone several months without an issue so it sort of fell to the back burner. One of the major suggestions that I read was to clean spills quickly so the chickens didn't get a taste for eggs and start viewing eggs as food. So the few times we'd have a couple of cracked eggs, we would wash up the buckets and make sure that the chickens didn't get too interested.

We generally put broken eggs and discarded egg shells in our compost pile. The hope is that it will make our compost more nutritious, but since it is open there is a risk that the chickens could wander over and find an eggshell. So we try to break up egg shells before putting them in the compost pile.

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Since the chickens need calcium (although most of it is provided in their feed), we also tried to feed the chickens their old shells. Recycling in it's finest. We made sure to dry out the shells and crush them up so the 'calcium treats' we were giving them didn't look or smell anything like the fresh eggs they were producing. Fortunately our chickens eggs haven't seemed to need any additional calcium since the majority of their diet comes from layer feed. It was a pain to keep the egg shells clean and dry them so we've stopped supplementing the chickens and diverted most of the shells to the compost pile.

Chickens eating eggs may be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. They may be lacking calcium or protein. However make sure that you are feeding them good feed appropriate for their stage in life (chick vs layer) and that they have enough calcium. Don't forget grit too. Providing them commercial feed this is less of an issue than if your chickens are free range and at the mercy of your yard. However it chicken pecking at their eggs may mean your chickens are just jerks, so don't freak out.

We thought we were doing the right things, but none of that seemed to matter as last week we lost 2-3 eggs to the chickens.

So what did we do to combat it? We bought ceramic eggs and placed them at the front of their nesting boxes. The way the boxes are set up they can only stick their heads in a little bit. The eggs help as it will teach them that eggs in the bucket are hard and not for pecking. It has the added bonus of they will lay in front of these eggs, so they can't physically reach the real eggs from outside of the bucket.

Nesting Boxes With Ceramic Eggs
That helped for a while and did teach them that not to get at the eggs. However when we upgraded our coop and redid the nesting boxes we made sure that the buckets had a slight slope back. That helps prevent the chickens from standing outside the nesting box and pecking at the egg.

What have you done to prevent your chickens from eating their eggs?

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Shared on Homesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday


  1. Oh we haven't had that problem yet. I like your ceramic egg solution though, I'll keep that in mind. We do have some plastic easter eggs in the nesting boxes, but those were to help them recognize what was to go in them. We think it helped. Thanks for the idea!

    1. The easter eggs should work just fine as a deterrent if they try to peck at them too. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Chickens eating eggs is so frustrating. Our last egg eater was so determined that nothing could stop her. She is now in my freezer ;)
    Hope the ceramic eggs work well for you.
    Thanks for sharing on the Homesteader Hop!

    1. Oh no! Thankfully they have stopped...although I think it had more to do with us raising the front of the bucket slightly so the eggs roll to the back, where they can't reach it than the ceramic egg.

  3. We have been blessed. In fact I have even given ours raw eggs when one cracks or I suspect one may be on the old side. However, mine are huge foragers and have a ton of bugs. I also make sure their protein level is kept up there and feed them both cooked eggs shells and oyster shells. Knock on wood we never have an eater but I will remember this if we do! Thanks!!

    1. Wow that is lucky. Our girls are mostly kept in their coop. I think it was more out of boredom/curiosity rather than deficency, but either way it seems to have stopped.

  4. I went for ceramic eggs and that worked a treat. My current problem is I have a couple of old hens laying thin shelled eggs that get broken easily and then everyone else piles in to eat the remains. I hope that doesn't lead to them trying to eat the unbroken eggs.

    1. I hope they don't start in on the unbroken eggs either! I have no experience with older hens, but would extra calcium help make them harder or is it just a fact of life? Thanks for sharing.