Hens Eating Their Eggs Again!

Hens Eating Their Eggs Again!
Chicken behaviour is still a mystery to me in many ways.  My hens weren’t pecking at their eggs until I fenced them in and wouldn’t allow them to roam the other areas of my yard anymore because of spring planting.  I’m wondering if they were missing the protein and other minerals like calcium that they were getting from the yard and maybe that triggered a nutritional craving or something that compelled them to seek out more minerals.  Probably not though, because they still have a large grassy area to roam with plenty of dirt, and I know they get a good enough variety of nutrients from their feed, worms and insects that they’re still finding in their enclosed area.  More than anything, I think that they might be bored and discontent being in a more restricted area.

I think what happened is that an egg cracked on its own initially, and t

hat’s how one of the hens got her first taste of it.  Had I been better about going out earlier in the day to gather the eggs then I could have possibly prevented it.  Too many eggs rubbing against each other can cause cracks in the egg with a softer shell.  What I find interesting though is that they will poke at the egg and only leave a hole most of the time without finishing it off.  What’s with that?

One friend said I might try putting Tabasco Sauce on the eggs, but when I took out a pecked egg yesterday and put it on the ground with a liberal amount of Tabasco in and on it, it didn’t detour the hens at all.   Without further hesitation, I decided to do the most intelligent thing and that was to google “chickens eating their own eggs”.  Here’s what I found on the following websites:

http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Chickens-from-Eating-Their-Own-Eggs

http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_eat_eggs.html

 

Based on my google research,  I decided to take the following steps to prevent further egg pecking:

  1. I immediately went out and placed two golf balls into each nesting box.  I also happened to have a wooden egg that I could put in one box.
  2. I will also go out sooner in the day, before noon, to get the eggs so the hens won’t have the time or interest to start pecking at them yet.  I did that this morning before noon and three eggs were still in tack.  In general, I’ll try to go out more frequently.
  3.  Even though the eggs seem hard enough to me, I’ll take additional steps to try and harden them further.   Someone told me that Flax Seed can help keep the eggshells harder, so I’ll try that, as well as the Oyster Shells to add more calcium to the hens’ diet.  I may add more nutrients to their feed later, but that’s an additional expense that I wouldn’t be happy about.
  4. I’ll look for some English Mustard and try that out when the hen(s) do their egg pecking.
  5. I’ll make sure to keep more straw in the nesting boxes to cushion the eggs more.
  6. I will absolutely not feed my hens the broken eggs.  I learned that after my first experience with my carnivorous Road Island Reds.  Once I started throwing the broken eggs onto the ground for them to continue devouring, that just gave them a taste for their own eggs and it only got worse.  Within a very short time I was barely getting a couple eggs a day from over 6 hens because they were eating them almost immediately upon laying.  Well, the Racoons took care of those hens, as I described in the earlier post.

I’m pretty sure that if I allowed my chickens to roam my big yard again that they would be too busy to go pecking at their eggs, but that’s not an option until after the harvest, and winter sets in again, so I’ll have to try the other methods to prevent the hens from eating their eggs.

If all the above fail, and it gets worse, then I will try to find out which hen(s) are the culprits and eliminate them.  Hopefully that won’t happen, because I really love these hens, but I’m also a practical person, and if my hens don’t pay for themselves, they have to go.  That’s just the way it is.

This entry didn’t get posted when I meant to post it a couple months ago, but better late than never.  Stay tuned, though.  In an upcoming post I’ll write about my observations these last couple months and my conclusions about the egg eating.

Share Button

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>