Lesson 967 – Egg Eaters in the Flock

Yesterday a reader asked:

My outside chickens, eat their eggs, if not picked up regularly. Is this normal?”

Here is my answer:

When I was thinking about answering this question last night I was going to verify:

Where you lived – in the Northeast we are getting socked with cold and snow which is creating some very bored chickens and bored chickens can do nasty things.

What you are feeding your chickens – in the winter chickens need a little more fat in their diet, if they are not getting it from the feed they might be looking for it in other places. Another thing to check is if your chickens are getting enough food to sustain them in the colder months.

How many chickens do you have with the follow up of how much space do they have – crowded chickens are stressed chickens.

But then I saw that you are asking about your *outside* chickens. Are you saying that your outside chickens are laying eggs in the great outdoors (presumably in a large area) and then eating their eggs? Um, no, that’s not normal behavior.

If that’s the case, I have a few ideas:

You first need to verify the offender, are you sure that it’s actually a chicken that is eating the eggs and not a neighborhood intruder (skunk, raccoon, dog)?

If it is a chicken, you may have a confirmed egg eater in your flock. If you can catch the culprit then you can try to break the behavior, I’d confine the bird with a few marble eggs and let her learn that eggs can hurt when pecked.

I’d also set up outdoor nesting areas (if you don’t already have them) so that the chickens can identify that this is the “egg area” and then if the behavior continues, I’d slip some of those marble eggs in the nests. I use a bank of horse feed buckets as our outdoor nesting area.

The best method to curb egg eating behavior is, as you have learned, to gather the eggs quickly. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not possible.

The second best method is to try and change the chicken’s behavior.

I have to warn you that once some chickens become egg eaters, they will always be egg eaters (why not? Good fat and nutrition source with very little work.) If you can’t change the behavior, you’ll need to either isolate the bird from the flock or invite her to Sunday dinner (or live with a reduced egg supply.)

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

look at me

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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6 Comments

Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Holidays, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotable Chicks, The Family

6 responses to “Lesson 967 – Egg Eaters in the Flock

  1. Ellen

    Thanks Wendy, There is two chickens out side, and I live in Newton Nh, we are neighbors. I have been in FL. Roo daddy is taking of these two outside birds. one is almost a year, the other ?????.long story, the other Goldie way a stray lack of a better word. and was lonely, so we got Bridget, before I left Bridget had laid one egg. Then nothing or so I thought . roo daddy found 4 eggs and one broken the next night he saw both eating. They are in a coop built for 6-8 chickens and there are two. they eat lots of veggies, fruit,scrambled eggs, and grain. I’m on facebook and we are friends. thanks for all the advice, I will be home tomorrow, What should I give them to have more fat? again thanks❤

    • Wendy Thomas

      During the winter months we let our chickens have access to a seed block at all times and I also chop up and throw in a few suet blocks every few weeks (you can find them where bird seed supplies are sold, they usually run around .99)

      Be careful with the suet though, the point is to augment the fat supply, not to make your chickens fat.🙂

      Welcome back home to New Hampshire!

      Wendy

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:19 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:

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  2. Nell WAde

    My chickens are locked in at night, but free range during the day. (I live in CA). As a result, we’ve had Jays in the coop, so when the eggs started to get eaten, I didn’t know who to blame. So I went on line and did some research. I emptied one of the eggs and added Chinese mustard to the top and laid the egg back in the nesting box. I found that all the chickens were a bit ‘off’ the next day, but the Jay wasn’t disturbed, so I did it again. Next time the Jays didn’t come back for a couple of weeks. I’ve moved the chickens closer to the house and a few weeks ago they’ve started laying again. Yesterday I found a pecked egg (didn’t get through the membrane) and the Jay’s back. My quandary is how do I keep the Jay out of the coop (actually a tractor) which I leave open for my girls to go in and out of? Will get out the Chinese Mustard again (hot stuff) if I find another one, but not sure what the answer is, except like you stated above, getting the eggs more frequently (I only have 4 chickens now and can usually hear when one’s laid an egg). Thanks!!!

    • Wendy Thomas

      hmm, let me do a little research on this and I’ll get back to you.

      Wendy

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:56 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:

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      • Nell WAde

        Thanks Wendy!!! Enjoy reading your blog – have only had chickens for 1 1/2 years, but love every minute (well almost every minute) of it!

  3. Pingback: Lesson 967 – Egg Eaters in the Flock | Lessons Learned from the Flock

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