Now, I know that we don’t just keep chickens for eggs, but there’s nothing worse than going out to the nest to collect your morning breakfast only to find broken eggs and a big mess in the nest.
It’s not just a problem for us humans, it’s also not great for the next hen to sit in an eggy mess while she lays especially because egg sets like glue causing feathers to stick together.
If this keeps happening in your coop, then chances are you want to know why it’s happening and how you can stop it.
Broken chicken eggs occur when there’s either a chicken that has developed a taste for eggs, there’s a chicken that has a calcium deficiency and is laying eggs with soft or thin shells or because there’s a problem within the coop which is causing eggs to be trampled.
Try not to worry too much if this is happening to you, because once you identify the issue there are things you can do to prevent egg breakages going forward.
Read on to find out more about the reasons why you’re finding broken eggs in the nest, along with solutions for each specific problem.
1- Chickens Breaking Eggs to Eat Them
Most chickens go through their lives laying eggs without a second thought of what’s inside, but problems can occur once a bird realizes that eggs are actually good to eat.
This can happen if an egg gets broken in the coop a few times and a chicken develops a taste for what’s inside.
Chickens love eating raw egg and if one is broken on the ground they’ll lap it up until it’s all gone, sometimes shell and all.
A chicken who develops a taste for eggs might start to peck and break eggs on a daily basis unless the problem is resolved. Some will even wait while another hen lays just so that they can eat the egg as soon as it appears.
Some chicken keepers don’t mind their chickens eating the eggs but although they’re perfectly entitled to eat them (after all they lay them), it’s not an ideal situation because it causes a mess inside the nest for you and other hens going into lay.
Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on April 6, 2021.
Why Chickens Eat Egg Shells
Another reason why chickens might be eating eggs is that they have a calcium deficiency.
Chickens eggshells contain a source of calcium and chickens instinctively get a desire to eat them if their bodies are lacking in the nutrient.
Laying hens need more calcium than non-layers so they can produce eggs with strong, hard shells as well as maintaining strong bones while they’re in the laying phase.
Usually, chickens get all the calcium they need from their complete layer feed, but in some cases, they might not be getting enough – which I’ll cover next.
How to Prevent Chickens From Breaking Eggs to Eat
When chickens have developed a taste for eggs, there are a number of things which you can do to prevent it from happening going forward, these include:
- Remove the eggs from the coop once the hens have laid.
- Use deeper bedding so the eggs sink down out of sight.
- Use some fake rubber or ceramic eggs to confuse the egg eater.
- Chickens can eat eggs due to boredom and lack of space, free-range time and chicken toys can help to prevent boredom.
- Make sure your chickens are getting enough food and they’re not turning to eggs because they’re hungry.
For more in-depth information on this, you might want to take a look at my full article on chickens eating eggs:
Check if Your Hens are Getting Enough Calcium
If your chickens are eating eggs and specifically the shells, this could be a sign of a lack of calcium in their diet.
A good way to find out if a chicken is lacking in calcium is to look at its own eggs and how thick the shells are. A chicken that is laying a thin, brittle or soft-shelled egg is probably not getting enough calcium in its diet.
Laying chickens should either be fed layers pellets every day and ideally once in the morning and once in the evening or they should have given access to oyster shell which is high in calcium.
If you’re already feeding your chicken’s layers pellets and/or oyster shell and you still think your chicken isn’t getting enough calcium then try the following tips:
- Make sure your chickens have eaten their morning meal before letting them leave the run.
- Check there’s no bullying going on at feeding time which is preventing a chicken lower down in the pecking order from getting much food.
- Make sure your flock isn’t filling up too much on other foods and treats rather than their complete food.
Chickens can be a bit like small children when it comes to eating and instead of concentrating on their complete food they might be looking for a treat instead.
When we let our hens out to free-range, they often go running off to their favourite snail hiding place instead of concentrating on the good stuff. By holding them back in the run for a little bit to eat their feed, we can make sure they’re getting enough of what they need before they go exploring.
2- Chickens Breaking Eggs With a Thin or Soft Shell
Another reason why you could be finding broken eggs in the nest is that the shells are soft or thin so they break very easily if knocked or they’re stood on.
In most cases, this is due to a lack of calcium in the hen’s diet, which can be easily fixed (see above), but in some cases, it can be due to the age of the chicken.
It’s not only important for us to have a nice tough shell around an egg it’s also very important for the hen too.
This is because a soft-shelled egg can be difficult for the hen to pass and it can even make them appear sick and lethargic until their shells harden up again.
Older hens can also lay thinner shelled eggs as they come towards the end of their laying life.
We have an ex-battery hen who has laid a thin-shelled egg since she came to us for retirement and there’s nothing more we can do to improve it, other than making sure we take it away early before it breaks.
3 – Problems in the Coop Causing Broken Eggs
There are some other things that could be happening inside the coop which are causing eggs to become broken in the nest, these potential issues include:
- There’s fighting inside the coop which is causing eggs to get trampled and broken.
- The chickens aren’t getting let out of the coop early enough, making them bored and frustrated.
- There’s a boisterous rooster in the coop.
- The nest boxes are too low down and eggs are getting kicked about.
- There’s not enough nesting material in the nest to protect the eggs.
- There’s not enough space in the coop.
When chickens are all in the coop on top of each other in the morning after they wake up, they tend to start laying early on.
This increases the chances of breakages, so one of the best things you can do to keep eggs safe is to let your flock out as early as possible.
An automatic coop door is a really good way to let your chickens out in the morning if they’re up before you are.
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I hope this post has helped you to find out more about why chickens break their eggs, you might also like the following articles too:
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on April 6, 2021.