Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Cannibalism is a Nasty Habit

Monday, January 23, 2012

Uh-oh.  I guess I've always dreaded this day would come and it's finally here.   Somebody broke an egg and then ate it.  Oh the horror in the hen house!  And no one was fessing up.  So I cleaned up what was left of the evidence in hope that it won't happen again.  My naughty secret is that I've gotten a little lazy this winter - I've only been checking the coop in the  morning and collecting the eggs.  I guess I'll have to do that twice a day to make sure the eggs aren't sitting there and creating a temptation.  It also probably hasn't helped that it's been in the 20's and the girls have been cooped up.  I suspect they're getting bored.

Boredom? Accident? Dietary issue?  Could be lots of reasons.  But let's take a look at how you can keep your chickens from eating their own eggs:

  • Collect eggs promptly. The faster your collect eggs from the nesting boxes, the less chance they will get accidentally broken or pecked.  My 9 hens all want to lay in the same nesting box, despite the fact that there are 4 nesting boxes in the coop.  I've actually seen 2 hens stacked one on top of the other in there fighting over the box. 

  • Watch their diet.  One of the reasons chickens might start eating their eggs is to make up for a lack of  protein in their diet. Make sure that you are feeding your chickens a complete feed that contains all necessary vitamins and minerals, and not giving them too many starchy treats.  I don't think this is my issue because I don't see any other pecking and I'm feeding them a balanced diet of Layena and table scraps.

  • Pad the nest.  Use plenty of soft bedding in the nesting boxes so the eggs don't rattle around once they're laid.  In the interest of recycling as much as possible, I've been using shredded bills and junk mail.  It works great and it's free!

  • Provide some entertainment. When chickens are shut in together (as usually happens in the winter months), they get bored.  Providing a treat ball, Flock Block, or something to entertain them can keep them from pecking at eggs and each other.

  • Stop bad behavior quickly.  If your chickens have started eating their eggs, replace the eggs with something inedible like a golf ball or a wooden egg.  Hopefully, they will realize they can't eat the fake egg and will stop eating their own.  I have one wooden egg that I leave in the nest at all times. 

  • Use negative reinforcement.  Some folks have had good results by empting out the contents of an egg through a small hole and then replacing the inside with something spicy like hot mustard, jalapeno relish or habanero sauce.  The hope is that your chickens should learn to associate this experience with their own eggs and stop pecking them. 

  • Alter your nesting box.  Angle your nesting box so that fresh eggs roll down a ramp to a safe distance. 

Do you have any other suggestions for how to keep your chickens from eating their own eggs?  I'd love to hear them!

Find out what other folks like me are doing on the Homestead Barn Hop.


  1. Howdy there Crank Puppy!
    thanks for the visit! Hope to see you again. Your blog is great!

  2. Hi Cranky! Thanks for stopping over to my blog! I'm looking forward to browsing through your blog...

    To give you a few more ideas about the egg eating...

    The chickens can't taste the "hot" in hot sauces, chili (capsicum)peppers, etc. So filling an egg with it won't help (That is helpful if you have mammals eating the eggs or going after your chicken feed).

    I also give them a few heads of cabbage...cheap and entertaining.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Deb: Well,hello there! Thanks for popping over and saying hello.

    Rea: That's really interesting that they can't taste the capsicum. Most people swear that it works. I'm not sure I could bring myself to be that "mean", though. I'm crossing my fingers but, so far, picking up the eggs twice a day seems to be working. I read somewhere today that pecked eggs are a result of bad animal husbandry! So, yes, it's all my fault...

  4. I would love to have you link up with us at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!
    I hope to see you there!
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick


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