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Small Flock Management of Poultry

Causes for hens eating their eggs

The causes that incite hens to eat their eggs usually result because of poor husbandry or management practices. Chickens do not naturally eat their eggs. Once the management of the flock is restored to an acceptable state, the egg eating will stop. The list of major causes and corrections are listed below. A factsheet entitled Prevention of Egg Eating discusses the subject in more detail.

  • If shells of the eggs are thin and weak, provide proper diets as discussed in the nutrition section to correct the problem.
  • Not enough nest space is provided. Provide at least one standard nest for each four hens.
  • Keep plenty of soft nesting material in the nest so eggs will have a cushion on which to lay.
  • Collect the eggs more regularly, at least 2 or 3 times daily. The longer the eggs remain in the nest, the greater chance of breakage and consumption.
  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh drinking water. Hens need greater amounts of water than other birds and may consume their eggs for the liquid content.
  • Cull non-laying hens from the flock. Refer to Culling Hens for assistance with this process.
  • Maintain a disease-free flock that is treated regularly for internal and external parasites.