Monday, September 27, 2010


It all started a couple of weeks ago. My dear friend A agreed to care for my chickens while my family and I went to NM for a visit. Upon arriving home, A reported that everything went swimmingly. The chickens ate, laid and were merry in my absence. However, A did report that my most favorite blue-green eggs laid by my Americana Olivia were cracked. They were marred by a beak shaped hole that ruined my sea foam colored eggs. 

I knew what she was alluding too but I refused to believe it. Livy, as we call her, is the gentle one. Unlike "Crazy Daisy," we can scoop Livy up and stroke her feathers without fear of wildly flapping wings or wayward pecks. She's truly a pet, and our favorite of the pair. My sweet little bird couldn't be....oh it's too horrible to even say....eating her own eggs?! (gasp in horror here)

Crazy Daisy and Sweet Livy in the background

I've continued on in my deluded state while tossing blue eggs almost every day due to what I'll call "chicken error." Maybe she's just clumsy and kicks the egg a bit with her big chicken feet and cracks it. Maybe she's pecking for bugs and accidentally gets the egg. Every time. But then this morning, I saw this:

Remains. Not a crack or a peck but a shell. Just a shell. No yolk or whites anywhere to be seen. I could not blame chicken error for this one. I turned to the internet but all that did was make me feel like a terrible chicken keeper. The following are the leading causes of cannabilzing eggs:
  • Inadequate nest padding
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Overcrowding
  • Boredom
  • Lighting issues
Let's start with nest padding. My girls could use a little extra. But every time I cozy up the nest boxes they end up scratching all the bedding out by the end of the day. As for nutrition issues, I highly doubt they are lacking. I'm paying out the wazoo for organic chicken feed. I'm confident that it provides adequate vitamins and minerals. Overcrowding isn't an issue. The coop is small but there's only two of them for crying out loud!! And boredom? How does a chicken get bored? 

Getting a chicken to stop eating eggs is a very, very difficult habit to break. The best thing to do is get rid of the offending hen but a) I'm not 100% sure which chicken it is and, b)chicken butchering is NOT one of the things I had planned on adding to my sustainable living skill set this early in the game. I'm still getting one good brown egg a day but I swear I almost tear up when I see a broken blue egg that I have to scoop up and dispose of in the compost bin. It baffles me as to why only the blue eggs get snacked on and not the brown.

The game plan is this:
  • Check for eggs three times a day. The less time the egg is in the coop, the less opportunity to eat it!
  • Buy some straw. The straw will provide a nice soft place for the newly laid eggs.
  • Darken the nest boxes. I'm thinking by hanging and old towel over the entrance to the boxes, it will provide a sense of security for the hens to encourage laying.
For any of you who have your own flock, any advice would be greatly appreciated. There would be a blue egg omelet in it for you...


  1. If I accidentally drop an egg while collecting, the hens swarm it and peck it up voraciously...makes me feel sick!! If there's just a little peck hole, we put it in the fridge and eat it within a few need to chuck the whole thing if it was laid that day! Yes, collecting as often as possible gives you cleaner eggs, for one, and will hopefully reduce the peckage. With only two hens, I'm sure you feel the loss of that one egg every day! Mysterious creatures...

  2. sigh...I can't wait for Ottawa to allow hens in residential areas! All of these issues seem so mysterious and wonderful to me (mind you, I'm sure they are very frustrating for you!) Hope things improve...

  3. i remember that our chickens had to have some sort of crushed shells or something to help their gizzards or some such thing. Does the organic feed include this? I think the towel may help the chickens feel more secure and may keep them from seeing the egg to peck. I'm so glad that one of my friends loves chickens and her family doesn't really want all the eggs. We get fresh eggs from her! Yay!

  4. Once they have a taste for eggs they eat them...I'm not sure if you can do anything about it aside from collecting your eggs more frequently! We found out, (the hard way), that they also kill babies, (the hens who aren't the hens mamas)...we lost 3 little chicks this spring to a rival hen.
    Oh, what you don't learn from your chickens?!
    xo maureen