Egg Eating Hens
Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about your hen’s egg-eating habit! Chickens enjoy eating eggs just as much as we do. If you are finding broken or half-eaten eggs in your nesting boxes, it can be incredibly frustrating. Left unstopped, the destructive behavior of egg-eating can become harder to correct. So how do you break this bad habit? We’ll provide tips on preventing the habit from forming, and how to break an egg-eating hen.
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Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery – where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. Each week we like to take a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings.
Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about your hen’s egg-eating habit!
Chickens enjoy eating eggs just as much as we do. If you are finding broken or half-eaten eggs in your nesting boxes, it can be incredibly frustrating. Left unstopped, the destructive behavior of egg-eating can become harder to correct. So how do you break this bad habit? We’ll provide tips on preventing the habit from forming, and how to break an egg-eating hen.
Prevention starts with reducing the risk of egg breakage. Provide an environment that’s not conducive to broken eggs with ample bedding and low light.
At least 2 inches of dry, clean bedding in the form of pine shavings or straw will cushion eggs being laid. You’ll also want to ensure nesting boxes are in low lighting. Not only does this help new egg layers to feel safe but will also camouflage eggs previously laid.
Also, be proactive about your hen’s nutrition. Ample protein in their diet will prevent them from finding alternative sources. You want to ensure hens 16 weeks of age or older are on a high-quality 16% protein layer ration. In addition, you can also provide high protein snacks your flock is sure to love, including mealworms, sprouted lentils, and sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
You can also provide finely smashed eggshells or oyster shells as a calcium boost. This will help strengthen eggshells, reducing the risk of damage from hens moving in and out of the nest box.
Lastly, be sure to collect your eggs daily, even 2-3 times a day if necessary. Eggs left in the nesting box are more susceptible to breakage, leaving your flock at a higher risk of creating an egg-eating habit.
Now, if the egg-eating habit has begun, first assess their environment. In addition to bedding and light, ensure your coop has adequate nesting box space and room to roam. Overcrowding can lead to egg breakage and boredom to egg-eating. Remember the rule of thumb is 2-3 square feet per chicken inside the coop, and 1 nesting box to every 4 hens.
If your hens free-range or are allowed to access a run, try letting them out earlier in the morning. If confined to a coop veggie garland or a bale of straw will keep them active and out of the nesting box.
In extreme cases try placing golf balls or wooden eggs in the nesting boxes. When the hens peck these and are unable to break them, they’ll often give up. You can also make a small hole at the end of a fresh egg and blow out the contents. Replace with mustard and place back in the coop. Most chickens dislike the taste of mustard, breaking them of their egg-eating habit.
Lastly, you can try roll-away nesting boxes. With the base angled, freshly laid eggs will roll out of the nesting box and out of the hen’s reach.
With these preventive tips and ideas to assist in breaking the egg-eating habit, we wish you luck on your next egg collection! And that’s your weekly moment with Meyer.
Enjoy the rest of your week and as always, thank you for listening to The Coop!
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Kendra + Jeff
From Meyer Hatchery
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