Once your hen goes broody, it will start to exhibit strange behaviors. The bird will become more aggressive towards you and its flock members.
The bird may also start to exhibit other odd behaviors like eating her eggs. This article looks into why this happens
Broody hen eating eggs:
A chicken becomes broody because she wants to become a mom and raise chicks. The broody hen will sit on her eggs incubating them until they hatch.
She will also be fiercely protective over the eggs, pecking at and even attacking anyone that gets close to her or gets close to the eggs.
Knowing this, you’d be surprised to see this very hen eating her eggs. Reasons why this happens include:
She doesn’t know what to do:
A broody hen may eat her eggs if she is a new mom and doesn’t really know what to do while brooding.
A first-time broody hen is usually a very bad mom, she will peck at her eggs instead of taking care of them and keeping them safe from harm, she may cause the most harm to the eggs, not an outsider.
What to do:
There isn’t anything you can do if the bird has already pecked at her eggs and eaten them, the bird will just have to try again with the next clutch and hopefully brood the next clutch better.
If you want the eggs to hatch, and the bird hasn’t broken and eaten all of the eggs, then you can remove the eggs from under her, place them in an incubator till they hatch, and then put them in a brooder once the chicks have hatched.
Chickens can sense when an egg or eggs are infertile. If one or all of your bird’s eggs are infertile, then the mother hen may break the eggs and eat them.
Eggs are a great source of nutrients and the shells are a great source of calcium for chickens. The bird will eat the egg and use the nutrients in the egg and shell to form a new clutch of eggs.
What to do:
You don’t have to do anything in this case, allowing the bird to eat these infertile eggs will be good for it, the eggs weren’t going to hatch anyway.
Ensure that future eggs are fertile by introducing a fertile rooster into the flock to mate with the hens, or, buy fertilized eggs. Hens will incubate and hatch fertilized eggs giving her the opportunity to become a mother
Too many eggs:
The correct number of eggs that a broody hen should be incubating is 10 – 12 eggs.
If the bird tries to incubate more than 10 – 12 eggs then she may become overwhelmed, be unable to cover all of them, and start to break and eat some of the eggs. She will only break as many eggs as she needs to.
What to do:
Hens can sometimes overwhelm themselves before brooding, these birds will sometimes collect eggs to brood, but they may collect too many eggs.
If you notice that your bird is collecting too many eggs then you’d need to keep her from collecting too many eggs. Only allow her to collect 10 – 12 eggs and take the excess eggs out of her nest box.
Lack of nutrients:
Egg laying takes a toll on chickens, a variety of nutrients are needed during egg formation and egg laying. This is why giving your egg-laying bird more calcium is important.
If the bird does not have enough calcium in its body then it may start to break the eggs and eat them to get calcium from the shell. This may form a habit where the bird regularly breaks her eggs and eats them for their nutrient content
What to do:
You’d need to take a closer look at your bird’s diet and figure out if the bird is getting enough calcium and other nutrients. Feeding your bird a layer feed is recommended if the bird is lacking in nutrients.
Also, make sure that the bird is actually eating the feed that you’re serving it.
Adding crushed eggshells to the bird’s diet is recommended but you need to make sure that the eggs that you feed the bird are crushed well and do not resemble eggs.
If they do resemble eggs then the bird may develop the habit of eating her eggs
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Broody Hen Pecking Chicks, Broody Hen Rejecting Chicks, Broody Hen Attacking Chicks, Can Chickens Drink Salt Water?, Broody Hen With A Pale Comb