Why do chickens eat their eggs?

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It is frequent that the chickens eat their eggs, Let's talk about a hen as a pet or the chickens that are part of the meat or egg industry. However, although we have mentioned that it is a common behavior, we must not ignore that it is also an alarm signal which indicates that an important aspect of the life of these animals is not being properly cared for.

In this AnimalWised article we will explain why do chickens eat their eggs, reviewing the main causes that motivate this behavior and the changes that can be made to improve the well-being, health or conditions of these individuals.

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  1. Is it bad for chickens to eat their eggs?
  2. Why do chickens eat their own eggs?
  3. How to prevent chickens from eating their eggs?

Is it bad for chickens to eat their eggs?

The ingestion of eggs in chickens is not an abnormal behavior and, in fact, it is not harmful to their health. However, when it occurs, we must know that something is wrong. We must pay attention to possible health, stress and behavior problems, so it will be vital to spend more time improving the living conditions that we are offering to the hens. Likewise, it is a behavior that can be generalized in other individuals, so in no case should it be ignored.

We can notice this behavior before absence of eggs or the decrease in laying. It is also possible to observe egg remains on the beak or feathers of one of the chickens. It is not so frequent to find residues in the nests, because when the hens eat their eggs they ingest them completely, including the shell.

In most cases, chickens acquire this habit accidentally, especially when an egg is accidentally broken. We must know that the consumption of eggs helps them increase their levels of calcium, fat and protein, so it is not strange that they continue to do so if they suffer from feeding problems, even eating other eggs that are not theirs.

Nevertheless, ¿why do chickens eat their eggs? ¿What motivates this behavior? In the next section we will review the most frequent causes:

Why do chickens eat their own eggs?

¿Do you want to know how to prevent chickens from eating their own eggs? Although there are systems that help to avoid this behavior in a forced way, such as the use of nests, We must know that this method does not help to directly solve the cause of the problem, likewise, it can cause higher levels of stress and anxiety, which will directly affect the quality of life of the hens and the quality of their eggs.

Therefore, the best way to prevent chickens from eating their eggs is to identify the problem that is causing this behavior and act on it. Here are the 3 main reasons that explain why chickens eat their eggs:

1. Diseases

There are various diseases of poultry that can affect our chickens, such as bronchitis or the presence of parasites, internal and external, such as the red mite. Therefore, if in addition to observing that your hens eat their own eggs you also detect abnormal symptoms, we advise you to consult with a specialized veterinarian, that will help you to rule out the presence of diseases and will advise you so that you can find the cause of the problem.

2. Nutritional problems and lack of water

Another reason that explains why chickens eat their eggs are the nutritional deficiencies. When their diet is not properly balanced and there is an absence of certain essential nutrients for their proper development and / or maintenance, it is very likely that they begin to manifest behavioral problems related to eating, in this case with the consumption of their own eggs..

As we have commented previously, eggs are an excellent source of fat, protein and calcium, so it is convenient to check that the contributions and supplements are properly administered. Once again we advise seeking professional guidance from a specialized veterinarian, especially when we are in the process of breeding chickens..

On the other hand, the consumption of water is as important and necessary as it is the contribution of a properly balanced diet. A chicken dehydrated You can use eggs to ingest the fluids your body requires. While this can happen at any time of the year, it is most common in the summer. We must not forget the importance of offering fresh and renewed water to our chickens.

3. Stress and anxiety

Along with the appearance of pathologies and nutritional deficiencies, stress is the third risk factor which can explain why chickens eat their own eggs. The overcrowding, that is, the accumulation of individuals in an extremely reduced space is one of the main problems that motivates it, common in chicken farms. So can poor nests. On these occasions we can observe the consumption of eggs among many other abnormal behaviors.

Another reason that can explain the development of stress is the bad lighting, which is really important for chickens. In intensive breeding farms, development is usually stimulated by related techniques that, unfortunately, end up having a negative impact on the well-being of these individuals, leading to the appearance of high levels of stress..

As in other animals, stress triggers abnormal behaviors in chickens, which includes pecking between individuals (they pluck feathers from each other or from themselves), the appearance of stereotypes (repetitive movements without an apparent end), etc. In these cases, it is essential to pay attention to enrichment, well-being, the space in which individuals reside and the ethology of the species, among others..

How to prevent chickens from eating their eggs?

Now that you know the main reasons that explain this behavior, it is time to offer you the possible solutions that you can apply:

1. Offer a quality balanced diet

Feeding is crucial to keeping your chickens healthy. You must offer them a diet that contains the necessary contributions of proteins, vitamins, minerals, good fats and calcium. We must know that chickens have a tendency to suffer calcium deficiency, especially in laying hens, which directly affects their health and the eggshell, which becomes weaker and more brittle.

Therefore, it is essential to offer the hens a complete diet that is perfectly adapted to their needs and life stage. If you suspect that this is your case, consult a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and consult the option of offer supplements.

2. Improves the well-being of individuals

The hen house layout and organization It is essential to keep your chickens happy, so you must take into account the space you have when adopting some of these birds.

The nests of the cages should be placed at a certain distance from the ground, as well as have adequate, soft, abundant and comfortable filling. Ideally, offer a minimum space of 600 cm2 per bird, encourage foraging behavior with perches for perching and free access to a outdoor area with vegetation during the day. [1]

What's more, lighting should be poor, so it is not recommended to place light bulbs, much less have them on all day. With this you will not only contribute to the nests having penumbra, but you will also prevent the temperature from increasing with the sun's rays.

Remember also that chickens are very sensitive to loud noises or sudden movements, so you should install nests and spaces away from any stimulus that may cause stress or anxiety..

3. Remove the eggs frequently

One way to prevent chickens from eating your eggs is by minimizing the chances that they will, that is, removing them frequently. It is recommended to perform this routine twice daily, after 10 in the morning and at the end of the afternoon.

4. Offers adequate preventive medicine

Apart from consulting with a veterinarian to rule out the presence of various pathologies and health problems that may be causing this behavior, offer a quality veterinary monitoring to all individuals on a regular basis is essential to prevent and detect any health problem. Never forget the importance of having the advice of a professional.

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