Why some Chickens Eat their own Eggs

This may come as a surprise to many but it is true that some chickens eat their own eggs.  More particularly with hens that lay their eggs in a nest.  Some of you may think it is cannibalism but it is hardly the case.  Many hens that lay eggs for hatching often lay more than the number they can hatch.  A large hen can accommodate about 16 to 18 eggs for natural hatching.  When they “sit” on their eggs for hatching they can sense if there are eggs not sufficiently covered by their body.

Eggs not heated under the ideal temperature that should be somewhere around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius, will not hatch.  A big upper or lower deviation from this temperature range will cause failure from hatching.  Normally, during the first time for a hen to hatch her own eggs will lack familiarity on how many she can hatch.  After the hatching process of which is usually 21 days, a hen will know how many eggs she can effectively hatch.  So in her next laying season, after weaning her chicks, finds too many eggs are on the nest, she will eat the excess.

Also, some chickens that are not provided sufficient water and food will tend to eat their own eggs.  This is especially so during summer or in locations where it is extremely warm.  It is noticeable when it gets really hot in the nest, the hen breathes heavily through her open mouth.  Often the hen will leave the nest to cool off and find some water.  If none, then the eggs will be the alternative.

Chickens bred for fighting in cockpits are the most notorious in eating their own eggs.  The reasons for these are their ferociousness that can be considered as cannibalism, over laying the number of eggs and sometimes selectivity.  This is aside from need of water and their nutrition requirements.  Chickens also rarely leave their nests during the hatching process to feed.  This will be one situation where lack of food to find will be a reason to eat their own eggs.

There are also some roosters who can be considered to eat their own eggs especially if they are the only rooster confined in a small coop.  The reason for this is often hunger.  This is a rare though when they free ranged.

Production egg-layer chickens in individual cages do not have reasons to eat their eggs as the eggs roll out of their cage for easy picking.  Another is, they are fed and provided water 24 hours everyday and will not go hungry.  Eggs for commercial purposes are not fertile, meaning they will not hatch, which could probably be also a reason why chicken layers do not eat them even when confined in a coop.