Why Your Laying Hens Are Eating and Breaking Their Eggs and How to Stop Them
To your utter dismay and disappointment, you discovered that your laying hens are breaking, eating, and drinking their eggs. After 21 weeks or more of anxiously waiting to pick your first farm fresh eggs from your laying hens.
This can be a very disappointing and painful experience. This problem of egg eating and breaking is not uncommon and it is very possible to prevent and stop it completely.
If your laying hens are eating, drinking, and breaking their eggs, you need to discourage them and break this habit immediately. The longer you wait to correct this habit, the harder it will take to cure them of this terrible habit.
If your chickens have started pecking at each other. And are involved in eating and breaking their eggs, something must have prompted this behavior. And several very important measures need to be taken to curb this frustrating behavior:
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Factors That May Be Responsible for your laying hens eating and breaking their eggs
Lack of, or inadequate nesting place and materials:
Inadequate provision of the nest may lead to your laying hens eating and breaking their eggs. Place the nesting box in a dark and quiet place within the pen. Chickens may begin to scramble and compete for where to lay eggs, especially at the early stage of laying their eggs. These may lead to egg breakage, eating, and drinking.
Overcrowding may lead to your laying hens eating and breaking their eggs:
Lack of adequate space in the coop might lead to stress and stress might aggravate egg breaking and drinking.
For chickens to effectively lay eggs they need a certain amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to lay more eggs. When their feed is deficient in protein, vitamin D, and calcium it may result in poor quality eggshells.
Inadequate calcium in the feed may result in a weak shell and when the shell is weak it can easily break. This may also lead to your laying hens eating and breaking their eggs.
Provide additional shade diagonally in the chicken coop to avoid direct sunlight entering the chicken coop when chicken is exposed to the direct rays of the sun especially in the afternoon.
It can be very stressful for the chicken and is capable of aggravating all the conditions that can lead to egg eating, egg breaking, etc. and beside egg-laying chicken prefer to lay their eggs in a dark safe environment.
Hard, solid floors:
Floor raised layers are more prone to egg eating. Provide good litter material for your birds, in case of floor eggs, the eggs will not easily break. Provide soft material in their nesting place such as soft dry grass, softwood shavings to serve as a cushion for eggs. To avoid your laying hens eating and breaking their eggs
How to effectively prevent your laying hens from eating and breaking their eggs
Curing the Egg Eating Habits
If your laying hens are eating and breaking their eggs, there are several changes you will have to make to curb this problem.
To stop your laying hens from eating and breaking their eggs you have to eliminating the culprits.
One hen must have started the habits. I remember back then when I was experiencing egg eating in my flock. I have to visit their shed several times a day, stay in the shed for some time.
Just to identify the particular culprits that eat and break the eggs, and once I identify the particular chicken. I will remove it, keep it in a different pen for some time, and bring it back after a while.
If he refused to stop eating the eggs, the last and only option left is to eliminate the chicken, to help curb the habits. Which I did and it helps to reduce the trend completely.
Pick your eggs regularly
About 75% of eggs are laid before 12:00 noon it is required to pick the eggs as soon as the birds lay them. To avoid your laying hens from eating and breaking their eggs. Especially if your laying hens are placed in a deep litter system.
No matter how hard you try, some chickens will still lay outside their nest. And their eggs can be broken easily if allowed to stay there for long.
Provide a Balanced diet to prevent your laying hens from eating and breaking their eggs
Feed your chicken with a well prepared commercial feed labeled layer feed. Especially when you see your first egg for the first time. A commercially prepared feed is subjected to research and industry standards.
It contains all the nutritional and mineral requirements needed for a laying hen to lay a healthy egg with good shell quality.
Care must be taken when given locally manufactured feed to your chickens. It may not contain the right quantity of nutrients, and minerals needed to form a quality eggshell.
Avoid all Sulpha drugs in laying hens if possible, especially when you are trying to restore them to good health whenever they are sick.
Sulpha drugs reduce eggshell quality making the eggs vulnerable to breakage and eating, instead used oxytetracycline. It improves eggs shell quality, and good antibiotics too, these can equally restore your chicken to good health.
Provide calcium supplement if calcium is deficient in their feed. Lack of or inadequate calcium in laying hens feed weakens the shell quality considerably. It is advisable to provide calcium supplements on a plate. at a corner or side of the coop, if any chicken needs it they can reach out to it.
Tricking the Hen will also help in preventing your laying hens from eating and breaking their eggs.
Place gulf or table tennis eggs in their nest once they peck it trying to crack or eat it. They will suddenly discover that they can’t break or eat it. After several attempts, they will be frustrated and eventually give up the habit. I have personally tried it and it works. This will also help in preventing your laying hens from eating and breaking their eggs.
Adequate provision of drinking water
Don’t joke with water, always provide enough drinking water throughout the day, especially in a hot harsh climate.
The provision of adequate drinking water will always reduce the incidence of egg eating and drinking. About 70% of the egg is made of water. And they need a lot of clean drinking water to lay more eggs, and if they don’t have it.
It may aggravate stressful condition, thereby prompting your laying hens to start eating and breaking their eggs
The best antidote to this menace of your laying hens eating and breaking their eggs is Prevention. Provide ample space for your laying hens, quality feed, clean fresh drinking water at all times, good nesting place.
And pick your eggs promptly about three to four times daily, and provide a conducive production environment.
Periodically check on your birds. If after meeting all the above mention management and preventive measures the habit persists.
And is coursing you both psychological and economic loss. The best thing to do is to cull all the birds and get a new flock.