What’s Eating the Chicken Eggs?

Author: Meera, June 6, 2015

Several times over the last month or so, I’ve traipsed to the hen house to collect eggs and found a broken egg or one with a hole in the shell and the egg otherwise intact.



Rhody with the rest of the flock of nine chickens

The rust-colored Rhode Island Red is the dominant hen in my flock




I wondered if one of the chickens had gone rogue and was pecking the egg that either she or one of the other hens had laid.


My flock is small and they usually lay their eggs during the morning hours, using the afternoon to free range and forage.


Each time I heard a cackle, I sprinted to the chicken house to see who was raising the ruckus and whether or not she’d pecked her egg.


Finally, I caught one of my Silver-Lace Wyandotte hens on the nest. With her head twisted behind and under her wing, I could not tell what was going on. I slipped my hand under her, causing her head to jerk around. It appeared I had caught her in the act as her beak was covered with yolk.




Hawk spotted on a sign post near Dublin, California

Hawks are capable of carrying off a chicken



So I thought I’d solved the mystery. My solution was to remove each egg as soon as the hen laid it. If I removed the eggs, any temptation for the chickens to peck the eggs would be eliminated, too. But running for every chicken squawk became so time consuming, I finally stopped.


To my utter surprise, there were no more broken eggs. That didn’t make sense. However, during the whole ordeal with the broken eggs, I’d been smelling a skunk. When my closest neighbor said a skunk had been raiding his coop for the eggs, I began to think I had wrongly accused my poor Wyandotte.


Indeed, since my neighbor took care of the skunk (by trap, I believe), my hens are producing eggs every day and none have holes or are cracked. I’m now thinking the skunk was the egg robber.



One of three foxes that have been checking out the chicken house at dawn

One of three foxes we caught checking out the chicken house


That experience got me thinking about other predators that will eat chicken eggs (and chickens, too). The list includes opossums, weasels, rats, snakes, minks, foxes, wild dogs, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and owls. So, even if I’ve got a nice hen house and a run with a wire roof, it seems that a predator motivated by a good meal with find a way in.




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