In the Barn
It seems that the chickens have developed a taste for duck eggs. Why would they do that? Well, there may be several reasons:
1. Nutritional deficiency - A calcium or protein deficiency may lead chickens to eat eggs which are an excellent source of both! We feed a good quality layer feed that contains a small amount of calcium. Also, we provide both oyster shells and eggshells to the girls as a treat for extra calcium. If you decide to feed your eggshells back to your chickens, make sure to crush up the shells so it does not look like an "egg". I would find it difficult to believe that the girls are not getting enough protein or calcium.
2. Dehydration - Some chickens may be looking for something to drink. We have several waterers in the coop and they are never empty so I don't think this is the issue.
3. Curiosity - If the chickens are bored they may peck at the eggs for entertainment. Using rollaway nest boxes is a great cure for this. The chicken lays the egg and then it rolls away where the chickens cannot get to them. We have several rollaway nest boxes but the girls prefer to lay in nests that they made around the barn. The ducks lay in nests on the ground and I think this is the primary problem. It is just too easy for the chickens to get to the eggs because the eggs are just laying there on the ground.
How to stop egg eating...
Providing good quality feed and clean water can go a long ways toward staving off egg eating. Also, keeping nests up high and in a secluded, dark place can help to keep the girls from hanging out in the nest and starting to peck at the eggs.
We started to collect the duck eggs and fill them with mustard and then put them back in the nest. I heard that the chickens don't like the mustard taste and will stop eating the eggs.
The chickens are not the only ones that like the eggs. Here a duck has mustard on her beak. The ducks cannot break open the eggs but once the chickens break them open, the ducks will definitely try to eat the egg...team work...
Another trick is to add fake eggs into the nest. We bought some wooden eggs and placed them into the nests. The idea is that the chickens would peck at the fake eggs and the egg does not break and then they give up.
If you know who is eat the eggs, you can try to isolate them in a cage for a couple days to help break them of the habit. Here I have 2 chickens that were caught with pieces of egg shell in their beaks so they got put in time out! They really do not like it...
Sadly, I don't feel that the mustard eggs really worked. The chickens still ate the mustard duck eggs!
The chickens don't seem to be eating their own eggs, just the duck eggs. I am hoping when we move the ducks out of the barn and into their duck coop, this will break the egg eating. The worst case scenario is that they would start eating their own chicken eggs since the easy access to the duck eggs has been taken away. BUT hopefully, the chicken coop gets built this spring and then the chickens will be moved to the coop and they will use the rollaway nest boxes and they would not have access to the eggs. Time will tell...
Have an eggcellent day!