Why hens eat eggs
Interview source: Phil Clauer, Extension Poultry Specialist, Penn State University
Once a chicken tastes an egg, it's like candy and they'll scout nest boxes to find them. Phil Clauer is an extension poultry specialist at Penn State University. He says if your hens start to eat their eggs, it's important that you take action right away.
"Remove that hen from the flock so the others don't pick up the habit because once one starts, the whole flock kind of tends to attack the eggs once they start breaking them open and so forth, and then they all get a taste and it all becomes fun for everybody," says Clauer. "If you can't figure out who's guilty is early on, what a lot of people do is get some wooden eggs and they'll put those in the nesting boxes randomly. And they'll actually move them around from day-to-day so the birds don't know which ones are impossible to break and which ones are the real thing."
Clauer says some people remove the bottom of the nesting box and add a sloped tray. When the egg is laid, it rolls down to an area where the hen can't see it or get to it. The main thing is to reduce excessive traffic in the nesting area, which increases the chance of egg breakage.
"Never have less than one nesting box for every 4-5 hens," says Clauer. "I recommend in a small flock situation where you have maybe ten birds, to have four nesting boxes right away no matter what because if they all select that one box, it's going to be a problem. The other thing is placement of lights and perches in relationship to your nesting boxes is critical. Birds like darkened areas to lay, so it's best not to have bright light, or real bright windows right by the nesting area."
Be sure the hens are fed a complete ration and supplement with free-choice crushed oyster shells. Clauer says to never feed chicken egg shells without smashing them to very fine particles. If the hen makes the association, she may start picking at the fresh eggs in the coop.
Learn more tricks and tips to prevent your hens from eating their eggs from Kansas State University
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