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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

They Eat Their Young!

by Michael

A few weeks ago our chickens quit laying eggs. One day we were getting 5 a day and the next day we didn’t have any. Usually this means they aren’t getting enough food, they are too cold, or they aren’t getting the right nutrients from their feed and it happens more often during the winter. Chickens can also stop laying when they molt but most of our chickens molted over the last few months and it is rare that all of them would molt at once.

Our first step was to check the heat lamp and it was still on. The next culprit, a lack of food, was checked and the chickens were getting plenty of food. This left one dreaded reason that we could think of for why the eggs were disappearing. OUR CHICKENS WERE EATING THEIR YOUNG!

This is not an uncommon thing. If chickens accidentally crack their eggs they might taste them and find that they like them. This will lead to the chickens cracking the eggs by pecking them and eating all of the eggs. To make sure that your eggs don’t crack accidentally, make sure that you add soft padding to the nests and make sure your chickens aren’t too crowded as this can lead to more trampled, cracked eggs.

I was really worried that our chickens were eating the eggs since I have heard that once they start they might never quit. We read online that if your chickens are eating your eggs, that you can add golf balls to the nest. This will often lead to your chickens pecking the golf balls, and quitting since it isn’t pleasant to hit a golf ball with your beak. Try throwing a golf ball at your teeth and you will know what I mean. We didn’t have any golf balls, but we did have some plastic Easter eggs so we decided to give it a shot and throw them into the nest. I don’t know if it is a pre-Easter miracle, but this colorful method worked and we started getting eggs again. For the first few days the chickens were cracking our Easter eggs open but they have quit cracking both so I guess they decided it wasn’t worth the effort to guess which eggs are real and which are fake. Now I can have eggs for breakfast again.

I guess chickens aren’t as smart as I thought.

Tell us if you have experienced something similar and how your resolved the problem.


Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

We've had a cracked egg or two in the nesting boxes over the years and I've quickly cleaned it for this very reason, but you can't always be there right after it happens. Scary thought - chickens turning cannibalistic! We have a terrible time keeping nesting material in their boxes. They are forever scratching it out. I guess this is just a farm chore that must happen on a regular basis. I may add a taller fence to the front of the box to see if that curbs it a bit.

Jennifer said...

What a funny solution! I love it.

Dale Johnson said...


Great article! I never tried the golf balls or plastic Easter eggs. It would have extended my hens lives over the years. Thanks for the idea. I thought I knew a lot about chickens but somewhere along the line I missed this trick.

mike said...


I understand the constant battle to keep nesting material in the box. It can be frustrating at times. Let us know if a bigger fence works.

katiegirl said...

I've been lucky and only had 1 egg eater. She was a trade for a rooster of mine, so I just gave her back to the people I got her from. *knock on wood* I hope I don't get any more egg eaters.

Kate and Crew said...

I've had a golf ball in my chicken's fav nest from Day 1. I read it's good to leave it in there for a multitude of reasons so a little white Titleist lives in our nest!

marisa said...

Kate and Crew, do you remember any of the other reasons?

-Sydney- said...

Look at that beautiful blue egg!

Kate said...

A friend recently gave us four new chickens to add to our seven and this problem started when they arrived. We now have nests with golf balls and are checking the nests every hour to correct the problem. Hopefully this will break them of the habit.

sheila said...

Are the shells thin? The eggs will crack easily if the shells are thinning and then the chickens will learn to eat eggs. Oyster shells left in a dish for them to eat will increase calcium levels and make the shells thicker/harder to crack.

Word verification-
adecrac- what happens to thin shelled egg?