Six tips on breaking your egg eater

            Egg eating is a nasty habit sometimes found in young pullets, and even older hens. Although many people may say egg eating is impossible to break, and to just cull the hen, in many cases this is not true. Egg eating often starts when an egg is accidentally broken in the nest box, and the hen pecks at it. Finding that this weird yellow substance is tasty, they will quickly devour it, and when they lay their next egg- look for more. Other hens that catch the original one doing this habit may even join in- and you’ll end up with a whole flock of egg eaters. That’s why it’s very important to break this as soon as possible. Below are six helpful tips to breaking your egg eater:

#1

This is the most common used method among backyard chickeners. Take a thumbtack or a small nail, and poke a small hole in each end of the egg. Then blow on one end, until the egg is empty. Fill up the egg with mustard, or dish-soap. Then place it in the nesting box. Chickens hate the taste of mustard, and once they peck into that, they may not be trying it again. It may take a couple tries using this method, just in case it doesn’t work the first time.

#2.

Place golf balls, or some sort of false egg, in the nesting box. When using this method, make sure you gather the eggs just after they’re laid, so that you can further discourage egg eating. After a while, your hens will get tired of pecking at plastic and getting a sore beak, and hopefully the habit will fade.

#3.

Give your chickens more protein. Yes, it may be as simple as that. Eggs are high in protein, and some chickens, when they are not getting enough, will go as far as eating eggs! Some things to give high in protein are fishmeal, and cat food. You can also try giving them some game-bird feed; it’s higher in protein than regular chicken food. Also boiled, or scrambled eggs. No, they won’t associate it with raw egg!

 #4.

Hang ‘curtains’ around the nesting box to make it dark. The egg eaters won’t be able to peck at the  eggs if they can’t see them!

#5.

Take all straw or nesting material out of the nesting box. This way, the hen will peck at the egg and it will roll away from her. Although it’s a rather odd idea, it’s had success with many chickens! It’s not easy for a hen to break through an eggshell.

#6.

Pinless peepers. These are a sort of ‘blinder’ that prevents chickens from pecking at each other. It makes it so that they cannot see in front of themselves, only off to the sides. However this can also be used to break egg eaters. It works in a similar way as darkening the nesting box- the hens won’t be able to peck straight at the egg. Leave these on awhile and the habit will probably be broken.

I’ve tried everything! I can’t get my hen to stop eating eggs, and I don’t want her going in the stewpot!

Unfortunately some egg eaters are just impossible to break. There is a solution to this, though, other than the stewpot. You can get a special kind of roll out nest box. This way the eggs will roll out of the hens reach as soon as she lays them. These nest boxes are the kind that battery hen farms use (don’t worry, they are completely humane), and are extremely effective in stopping your egg eater.

I have an egg eater. How can I tell who the culprit is?

First of all you can inspect each hen. Do any of them have egg on their face? Wetness? If you find no evidence, of course, you can always watch the nest boxes to find the culprit. However, there are many easier ways to do this. One way is to blow out the egg, fill it with dish-soap and food coloring. This way you can break and find your egg eater at the same time. Just look for the hen with coloring on her face! Other methods are- placing an egg on the ground and seeing who goes for it, game cameras, and isolating each hen.

Prevention

Of course the easiest way to stop eggs from being eaten is to prevent egg eating in the first place. There are several ways to ensure this.

  1. Make sure they have plenty of oyster shell and other protein. This will help them have strong healthy shells which will prevent eggs from being accidentally broken.
  2. Check the amount of nesting material. Make sure they have plenty- also to prevent eggs from being broken.
  3. Remove the eggs as soon as they have been laid.
  4. Don’t let your hens go hungry!
  5. Don’t let your hens get bored either. This makes them more likely to peck at the eggs. Give them food bits, and treats to scratch around for. Try making ‘apples on a stick’, or hang cabbages for them to peck at (instead of the eggs!).

I hope this is helpful and that you have great success breaking (or preventing) egg eaters!


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