Egg eating is not a very productive behavior with laying hens, but with the proper prevention it can usually be avoided. The proper prevention for this behavior will include proper housing, proper size of nests, good nutritious feed, nutritional supplements and good care and management of the chicken flock. All steps of the prevention plan are important and none should be left out as these are also important for the health and well being of the chicken flock in general.
The proper chicken house or coop that should be built to house the laying hens or the entire chicken flock should be large enough for the chickens to roost and for there to be enough nests for all the laying hens. These nests should be located at least four feet from the chickens’ roost. Lighting should also be reduced near the nests if at all possible.
The nests that are put in the chicken coop or house are very important. These nests should be on an average twelve inches square and should be located two feet off of the floor of the chicken coop or chicken house and four feet away from the roost located in the shelter. There should be at least one nest for every four laying hens and each nest should contain about two inches of nesting material that should be soft, dry and clean, such as hay, straw or shavings.
Feeding the chicken flock is another important aspect of egg eating. In order for nutrition to be a preventative, there should be calcium added to the diet of the chickens. This can be done either by offering oyster shells free choice, meaning the chickens are always capable of getting them or by feeding eggshells that are cleaned and finely ground up. It is also important to offer the chickens a complete chicken feed with all the vitamins and minerals that the chickens require.
Gathering the eggs in the nests at least twice a day is also important to combat egg eating by chickens. After all, if the eggs are not there, they can not be eaten. Actually it is a good idea to gather them once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
Another thing that can be done is to remove any brooding or setting hens and their nest of incubated eggs from the egg laying nests. This will definitely help, especially when the eggs are hatching and egg shells are readily available to temp the other chickens in the flock.
The last and probably most dramatic preventative aspect of egg eating by chickens is to get rid of the chicken, especially if they eat eggs regularly. If the chicken can not be broken from eating eggs, not only is the owner going to have less eggs, this behavior can be passed on to other chickens in the flock, which could cause all sorts of problems.
Following these few preventative measures will not guarantee that there will be no egg eating among the chickens in the flock, but they do help.