7 Reasons Why Chickens Dig Holes In Their Eggs (2023)

Eggs are a valuable resource when it comes to raising chickens. They can be a source of income when sold, give birth to a new generation of chickens, or you can consume them and never have to buy eggs at the store again. Unfortunately, one of the quickest ways to ruin your egg-related goals is to have your own chickens poke holes in them.

Most owners view this as irrational behavior and cannot understand why one of their hens would deliberately sabotage their eggs. If you're one of those people, read on as we cover seven reasons why your chickens might be pecking at your eggs, along with some tips to prevent this behavior.

7 Reasons Why Chickens Dig Holes In Their Eggs (1)

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Chickens are just curious.

Anyone who has or has had chickens knows that they are incredibly curious by nature.

Although tame chickens are prey, they love to roam their owners' property (if allowed) and investigate new things due to their remarkable intelligence, leading to an affinity for the Inquisition. Unfortunately for your balls, that burning curiosity can quickly turn into trouble.

One of the main reasons chickens poke holes in their eggs is that they are curious about the egg itself and its contents. This behavior is more common in younger chickens, particularly pullets (chicks less than one year old).

Remember that the hen that lays her eggs is not the only hen in the flock that may have access to them. There will be times when other members will show up and their curiosity will get the best of them. This can cause them to shy away from or even peck at the egg, leaving holes in the obviously fragile shell.

Since hens can lay eggs as early as 18 weeks of age (although 6 months is more common), it's not uncommon for new mothers to examine their new eggs too enthusiastically and accidentally damage them. 🇧🇷Those)

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Chickens can get bored

If there's anything worse than being too curious, it's being too bored, and when you thinkIs he around?To get bored, try being a chicken stuck in a chicken coop with nothing but a perch and tons of straw. In an environment like this, playing with eggs can be the most challenging thing your chickens can do.

Besides curiosity, one of the most likely reasons your hens will pierce their eggs is because boredom increases their pecking behavior.

As we mentioned earlier, chickens are relatively intelligent animals (comparable to dogs), which means they need sources of stimulation to stave off boredom and hopefully leave their precious eggs alone.

How to prevent boredom in chickens and redirect curiosity

When your chickens don't have an outlet for their curiosity or energy, they will flock to the nesting area to have fun.

Therefore, one of the best ways to eliminate these causes of egg pecking is to add sources of stimulation around the coop and the hen's immediate environment. Some ideas include:

  • Installation of hangers, swings and ladders.
  • Hanging candy dispenser
  • Provision of a dust bath area
  • Buy suitable chicken toys (eg plastic balls, mirrors)

If your chickens are used to being handled, spreading them out for a while can also be great for stimulation and bonding, in addition to the sources of enrichment mentioned above.

It also helps to give the hens more space, both outside and inside the coop, as this allows them to roam instead of being cooped up with the eggs.

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Shell Testing: Natural Selection At Its Finest

While we like to make the most of every egg laid, whether by selling it, eating it or hatching it, sometimes hens know better and find out by pecking at the eggshell.

Chickens often test eggs to see if they are fit for hatching and are therefore worth the effort and energy to sit on. One way to do this is to peck at the shell of the egg to test its strength.

Eggs with exceptionally weak shells are discarded by the hen, and sometimes eaten by one of the hens.chickens in the coop.

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Sometimes the egg was perfectly viable and the hen pecked very hard, but generally this type of test is used to find soft-shelled eggs, which are less likely to hatch a healthy chick and should not be eaten.

Soft-shelled eggs are more common in old and/or calcium-deficient hens.

Therefore, if you notice an unusually high number of soft-shelled eggs being laid in the nesting area, you can reduce it by limiting the number.often your older hens lay eggsand seriously watch your chickens' diet to make sure they get enough calcium.

Here is a good video with information on chickens and calcium in their diet:

Supporting the growing chick

This is probably the healthiest reason your hens or other chickens might peck at the shell of an egg, which only makes it more unpleasant if you go too far and poke a hole in the outside.

As the chicks grow and develop inside the egg, a hen will occasionally stroke the eggshell to support and encourage the chick.

A simple analogy for this would be a pregnant woman rubbing her tummy or talking to her baby. Admittedly, this is more for bonding purposes, because in this situation the hens will perform this behavior late in the chick development process, around the time they are expected to hatch.

Usually the pecking should be no more than a light nick to the shell, but sometimes a hen accidentally pecks too hard or in the same spot too often, creating a hole. Another cause could be that the chick's shell was not as strong as it could be and therefore this light tapping was more than the shell could take.

It was not a beak at all, but a crow's foot.

You wouldn't be the first chicken owner to walk into the nesting area, find an egg or two with holes in the shell, and steal one of your own.canned chickena hole in it. Although egg pecking does occur, it is not entirely unlikely that there is an alternative explanation for why some eggs have holes.

Sometimes holes are made in chicken eggs when chickens step on them instead of pecking at them. This is especially common in crowded hens where the hens don't have room to move away from their nests or roost.

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A good way to see if a hen is pecking at her eggs, or if they are being trampled on, is to install a camera in the coop to try to capture these events.

If you don't have the technical means to do this, maybe look at yourhen houseand the entire living area. Ask yourself if they have enough room to move and roam within the nesting area you have established.

  • If you don't have designated nest boxes, this is definitely the first step to take, as training your hens to lay in nest boxes will reduce the likelihood of those eggs being laid in the coop.
  • You should also make sure that these boxes are large enough for your chickens to move around and lay eggs comfortably without being too spacious, as chickens like to lay eggs in dark, cozy spaces.

Another factor to consider is whether the nests are on the ground. Chickens instinctively prefer to lay their eggs in an elevated environment, so their nests should be a foot off the ground, both for egg production and to reduce the chance of them being trampled.

Something may be missing in the chicken's diet.

We briefly discussed how a hen's diet can affect her eggs when we mentioned that a calcium-deficient hen often produces soft-shelled eggs. But this isn't the only time your hen's diet can play a role in egg pecking, and it's not just laying hens you need to consider.

The most problematic reason why your chickens may be pecking at eggs is that they are hungry and trying to get some nutritional that is missing from their overall diet by eating the egg.

In addition to a calcium deficiency (which becomes apparent when chickens also eat the shell and not just the inside), a chicken eating the contents of an egg could indicate a protein deficiency. Ideally, you'll spot other signs of these deficiencies before they start tricking your hens into eating eggs, as this could lead to a more serious problem, which we'll cover in more detail shortly.

Symptoms of a low calcium chicken include:(Those)

  • Eggs with soft shell or without shell
  • Abnormal skeletal development (usually in chicks)
  • osteoporosis
  • feather loss
  • egg link

Symptoms of protein deficiency in chickens include:(Those)

  • Fatigue/Lethargy
  • weakened immune system
  • reduced muscle size
  • wing depigmentation
  • federal anomalies

Obviously, by providing chickens with ample sources of protein and calcium through feeds and supplements like the ones listed below, you can avoid these deficiencies entirely.

Calcium sources for chickensProtein sources for chickens.
crushed oyster shells
Green leafy vegetables (for example, kale, Swiss chard, kale)
Laying feed with higher calcium content
chipped limestone
Specific calcium supplements for chickens
fish/fish meal
meal worms
pumpkin seed
Most meat trimmings and offal (for example, lamb, veal, pork)

As long as you have a healthy supply of these foods and supplements available to your chickens, it is unlikely that they will develop a deficiency that would cause them to peck and eat the eggs laid in the coop.

Here is a good video with some tips to avoid eating eggs:

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A hen began to eat eggs.

We leave this reason for last because if you are sure that your chickens are pecking eggs because of this, it is undoubtedly the biggest challenge to prevent and solve.

Whether they have eaten an egg out of lack of nutrition, boredom, or pure curiosity, your hens may become habitual egg eaters, enjoying the taste of unhatched eggs and purposefully piercing the eggshell and consuming the contents.

The unfortunate reality here is that you could feed your chickens a spectacular diet and fill their environment with endless space, toys, and various sources of enrichment and stimulation, but finding that one (or more) always has an egg or two left to eat seems other reason than the fact that he wants to.

Dealing with habitual egg eaters can be exceptionally challenging, especially when you don't initially know which chickens are responsible.

Even if you know the culprit, you now need to find a way to keep the contents out of the eggs. Fortunately, we have some tips on how to break this nasty habit.

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How to prevent chickens from eating eggs

There are several possibilitiesstop your chickensof eating defenseless eggs, but the process always starts with confirming that this is the cause of the pecked or cracked eggs, and then finding the hen(s) responsible.

We mentioned earlier that homeowners could easily set up cameras pointed at their nests to try to capture pecked eggs and this can be adjusted here to see if their hens are actually eating the eggs.

Some alternatives are to go the traditional route and sit in a chair outside the chicken coop early in the morning and wait until you hear the distinctive sound of a hen breaking an egg shell. You can also fill an egg with food coloring (green or blue is best), and if you later find it cracked or eaten, try to find traces of the food coloring on one of your chickens.

  • When looking for the culprit, it is highly recommended to take preventive measures such as: B. collect the eggs as soon as possible.
  • The fewer are left unprotected in the nest, the better.
  • If you're having trouble with this, perhaps due to time constraints, try installing collapsible nest boxes that will hide or remove the eggs once they've been laid.

Once you know which chicken is causing this, the ideal approach would be to try the various solutions listed above for other common causes (such as nutritional deficiencies) and see if that fixes the problem. Unfortunately, breaking the egg habit, once established, is extremely difficult.

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As a result, it is not uncommon for chicken owners who rely heavily on their eggs to relocate their egg-eating rooster or hen. The only other solution is to hope that this helps keep them away from the eggs and gives them enough space and entertainment to get past them in time.


Why are my chickens pecking holes in their eggs? ›

A chicken may begin eating their eggs if their calcium levels are low. Calcium deficiency causes a chicken to seek out a supplemental diet of egg shell. Chickens may also eat their eggs due to accidental discovery. If a chicken coop is crowded, a chicken can very easily break an egg.

Why do my chickens dig holes? ›

The main reason chickens dig holes is because it is an instinctual behavior. They feel an internal drive to do so. There are also benefits to digging. The most common being to be able to take a dust bath, to stay cool in warmer temperatures, and to sometimes create a safe place to lay eggs.

How do I give my chickens more calcium? ›

Crushed oyster shells are the best option for providing supplemental calcium. They stay in the digestive track the longest, which optimizes calcium absorption. Crushed eggshells make a good supplement in addition to crushed oyster shells.

Do chickens get stressed when you take their eggs? ›

Laying eggs is as instinctive to hens as perching and scratching. It's something they need to do, but they are not doing it with thoughts of hatching chicks, and will leave their egg as soon as it has been laid. This means you can take it without worrying about hurting your hen's feelings!

Can you stop chickens from eating their eggs? ›

Therefore, offering additional calcium is a great way to prevent egg-eating behavior as well as illness. Either purchase crushed oyster shells, or save and crush their own eggshells. Offer calcium in a dish separate from their food; they eat what they need (and too much calcium can harm them too).

Why do you put Vaseline on chickens? ›

Petroleum jelly on their combs

Some people say you can prevent frostbite on combs during the winter by putting petroleum jelly on the combs. For starters, this is really impractical if you have more than four or five chickens, especially if it is getting below freezing every night.

What does vitamin deficiency look like in chickens? ›

Gross signs in chicks include anorexia, growth retardation, drowsiness, weakness, incoordination, emaciation, and ruffled feathers. If the deficiency is severe, the chicks may become ataxic, which is also seen with vitamin E deficiency ( see Vitamin E Deficiency Vitamin E Deficiency read more ).

Should I put Vaseline on my chickens? ›

These are two ways that chickens' bodies help to prevent frostbite. Yet, sometimes breeds succumb to frostbite for other reasons. Apply any one of the following: Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly/Bag Balm/Waxelene/Coconut Oil, to their combs and wattles prior to roosting each evening. Keep the coop dry and weatherproof.

How do I know if my chickens have calcium deficiency? ›

The first signs of a deficiency of calcium, phosphorus or vitamin D, or all of these, are:
  1. Lameness.
  2. Stiff legs.
  3. Ruffled feathers.
  4. A reduction in growth.
  5. Leg bones appear rubbery.
  6. Joints become enlarged.
  7. A calcium deficient diet may cause paralysis followed by death.

What can you give chickens to harden egg shells? ›

Switch the flock immediately to a laying diet which has 3.5% or more calcium when you see the first egg laid by the flock. Approximately 10% of the diet must be limestone or oyster shell to provide this much calcium. Let the hens will pick limestone or oyster shell as they need it from a hanging feeder.

Should I feed eggshells to my chickens? ›

Feeding eggshells to your chickens is a great way to provide them with calcium and other nutrients. The calcium in the shells helps them form strong eggshells, and the calcium in the diet helps the hens lay larger eggs.

How do I give my chickens more protein? ›

Here are some of our favourite treats to help you boost the protein in your chickens' diet:
  1. Dried Mealworms. At 53 % protein, Dried Mealworms are by far our chooks' favourite protein-rich treat. ...
  2. Dried Soldier Fly Larvae. ...
  3. Insects. ...
  4. Seeds. ...
  5. Non-medicated chick starter. ...
  6. Sprouts. ...
  7. Worms. ...
  8. Eggs.
7 Jun 2019

How do you tell if chickens are eating their eggs? ›

There may be yellow yolk stains on the beak or feathers of the chicken that is eating the eggs. This may be hard to notice if your chickens have yellowish beaks or feathers.

Do chickens abandon their eggs if you touch them? ›

A mother bird will not abandon its chick if touched by a human. Many birds have a limited sense of smell and will not be aware that a human has come near their chicks unless they see it happen. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, it's best to leave birds alone anyways.

Do chickens miss their owners? ›

They do recognise and bond with their owners, but they will still get lonely without other chickens, which can cause stress and shorten their lifespan as well as affecting egg-laying. If you're thinking of getting just one chicken it may be best to wait until you're in a position to get a flock.

Do chickens have feelings? ›

Chickens are sentient beings, meaning they experience a wide range of emotions and can feel pain. There are more chickens on the planet than any other land animal. Let's learn a bit more about them. Chickens don't just recognise other chickens, either.

Do hens feel pain when laying eggs? ›

Many chickens don't appear to be in pain while laying eggs, but some chickens, particularly young chickens and those laying very large eggs, do show signs of pain. These signs include wheezy, gasping vocalizations while laying and occasional minor bleeding from the vent.

When should chickens not eat eggs? ›

Never eat eggs raw or undercooked. Undercooked egg whites and yolks have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella enteritidis infections. To prevent illness from bacteria, cook eggs until yolks are firm and whites are set, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly to 160°F. Use a food thermometer to be sure.

How do you fill an egg with mustard? ›

This can be done by making small holes at the top and bottom of the egg and blowing out the insides with a drinking straw. Then fill the now-empty shell with plain yellow mustard and offer it to your chickens.

Do chickens eat other chickens? ›

It is a problem that can occur among birds of any age and of any breed. Cannibalism can affect many different types of poultry, including chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, and pheasants.

What does Epsom salts do for chickens? ›

For a chicken, an Epsom salt bath helps her relax the same way it helps us. If she's found to be egg-bound, a warm soak will ease her muscles and encourage the egg to slide out. If she's eaten something she's not supposed to, it will help flush out toxins.

What does olive oil do for chickens? ›

Dietary oil or fat type improved significantly (P < 0.05) the body weight and gain as well as feed efficiency in birds fed EVOO compared to those fed with the other treatments. Supplementing EVOO in the diet significantly (P < 0.05) reduced lipid peroxidation by increasing antioxidant defense system.

What does soaking your chicken in water do? ›

A brine adds flavor and keeps the meat tender and juicy.

You can brine whole chickens or broken-down birds; those pan-roasted thighs would surely benefit from it. All it takes is a little planning (you'll need to devote at least a couple of hours to the process, but it's happily hands-off).

What is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency? ›

Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. In its more severe forms, vitamin A deficiency contributes to blindness by making the cornea very dry, thus damaging the retina and cornea.

What are 4 symptoms of having a nutrient deficiency? ›

6 Signs of Nutrient Deficiency
  • Severe hair loss. ...
  • Burning sensation in the feet or tongue. ...
  • Wounds are slow to heal. ...
  • Bone pain. ...
  • Irregular heartbeat. ...
  • Your night vision deteriorates.

How do I know if my chickens are getting too much calcium? ›

Signs of too much calcium or an unbalanced calcium-to-phosphorous ratio are:
  1. pimply eggs.
  2. eggs with rough ends due to excess calcium deposits.
  3. soft-shelled or shell-less eggs.
  4. reduced feed consumption.
  5. reduced egg production.

Is peanut butter good for chickens? ›

Yes, it's safe for chickens to eat peanut butter in limited quantities. One tablespoon of creamy peanut butter provides almost double the amount of protein a light-breed hen needs to consume in a single day. That same peanut butter also gives the hen about a third of the necessary fat.

What is a natural antibiotic for chickens? ›

Oregano is being added to poultry diets at commercial chicken farms to work as a natural antibiotic. Add some to your backyard chickens regiment for a happy, healthy flock....

What does lemon balm do for chickens? ›

As well as relieving stress and promoting calm among our chickens, Lemon Balm is full of antibacterial properties, and also a great all natural rodent repellent. To make sure you can harness all of this goodness for your girls, lay some fresh Lemon Balm in their nesting boxes.

What are the symptoms of too little calcium? ›

A person with a calcium deficiency may experience:
  • muscle aches, cramps, and spasms.
  • pain in the thighs and arms when walking or moving.
  • numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs, as well as around the mouth.

Will chickens eat banana peels? ›

So I looked up – Are banana peels healthy or good for chickens? The answer? A resounding YES! Not only are bananas edible for chickens, but they're nutritious and full of good things, like fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, B6, and B12 – nutrients that your chickens need!

What can you feed chickens to improve egg quality? ›

Your hens' diet should include calcium for strong shells; amino acids, vitamins and minerals for enhanced egg quality and hen health; and probiotics and prebiotics to promote digestive function. The complete layer feed should comprise at least 90 percent of the hen's diet.

Is uncooked oatmeal good for chickens? ›

Chickens love oats, which are an excellent source of vitamins, protein, and antioxidants. Raw or cooked, oats provide essential vitamins and nutrients including calcium, choline, copper, iron, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and zinc.

What should you not feed chickens? ›

Hens should never be fed food scraps that contain anything high in fat or salt, and do not feed them food that is rancid or spoiled. Specific types of food that hens should not be fed include raw potato, avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits, uncooked rice or uncooked beans [2].

Why you should not throw away eggshells? ›

Eggshells serve double duty in a garden. If you mix them into the soil, they'll have the same impact that they do in your compost: they'll decompose and feed valuable nutrients into the soil, which in turn will make your plants happy.

What happens if you feed a chicken too much protein? ›

Too much overall protein in a chicken's diet could lead to kidney failure, so it's best to stay within recommended protein levels for your birds.

Is raw fish good for chickens? ›

Absolutely! They will enjoy both raw and cooked fish. Avoid fish that's gone off, of course, or in breadcrumbs, batter, or fried. They're all processed, often loaded with additives, and much too high in fat.

Should you feed chickens cracked corn? ›

Cracked corn is a great treat for chickens. Because it is high in carbohydrates, it is particularly good in the winter months. But, like all treats, cracked corn should be fed in moderation. Never give your birds more than they will eat in 10-20 minutes.

How do you increase calcium in chickens? ›

Crushed oyster shells are the best option for providing supplemental calcium. They stay in the digestive track the longest, which optimizes calcium absorption. Crushed eggshells make a good supplement in addition to crushed oyster shells.

What are chickens lacking when they eat their eggs? ›

A chicken may begin eating their eggs if their calcium levels are low. Calcium deficiency causes a chicken to seek out a supplemental diet of egg shell. Chickens may also eat their eggs due to accidental discovery. If a chicken coop is crowded, a chicken can very easily break an egg.

What time of day does chicken lay eggs? ›

Most hens lay their eggs in the morning! Although, you may find one or two hens get started later in the day. Chickens are diurnal creatures, though. So, they won't produce any eggs or even ovulate during the night, even if they do spend most of it tucked up in a cozy nesting box.

Do chickens know their eggs are unfertilized? ›

A hen does not know if her eggs are fertilised or not. In fact (much like a human) a rooster can be infertile, so a hen's eggs might not be fertilised even if she is in a flock with a rooster. Many modern breeds and commercial hybrid hens will do nothing with their eggs other than lay them and walk away.

Why do birds throw eggs out of nest? ›

In some species, egg-tossing is a strategy of clutch coordination; eggs are tossed until all birds in the common nest are ready to proceed with brooding. This helps to prevent early egg-layers from dominating reproduction.

How long can fertilized eggs survive without heat? ›

Some embryos can survive at temperatures below 90°F for up to 18 hours, so do not give up. You should continue to incubate the eggs after the outage; then candle them 4 to 6 days later to see if there has been further development or signs of life.

Do birds peck holes in their eggs? ›

Hens will often test eggs to see if they are viable for hatching and, therefore, worth the effort and energy of being sat on. One way they do this is by pecking at the egg's shell to test its strength.

Why do birds peck their eggs? ›

The hen loses a lot of calcium and protein when forming and laying each egg, so if she feels too depleted, she eats her own eggs to replace the nutrition.

Do birds know their own eggs? ›

The results from a large number of new experiments reveal that rejector-species do indeed recognize their own eggs.

Should you touch bird eggs? ›

In most cases, the parents are nearby and may be waiting for you to leave the area. Touching animals can also result in diseases passing from wildlife to humans, or vice versa. However, if you do inadvertently happen to touch a bird's egg or nest, rest assured that your scent alone won't cause the parents to flee.

Why do chickens destroy their eggs? ›

Another school of thought is that a broody hen checks an egg's shell strength by pecking at the egg; this is thought to be a way of testing the egg and evaluating if it's strong enough to set and hatch. If the egg is strong and the shell is thick, the hen will sit on it.

What is the first indication of peritonitis? ›

The first symptoms of peritonitis are typically poor appetite and nausea and a dull abdominal ache that quickly turns into persistent, severe abdominal pain, which is worsened by any movement. Other signs and symptoms related to peritonitis may include: Abdominal tenderness or distention.

What are signs of egg binding? ›

3. How can I tell if my bird is egg bound?
  • depressed demeanour, fluffed up appearance.
  • unable to perch or may often sit on the bottom of the cage or in food bowl.
  • tail bobbing.
  • straining to lay an egg.
  • paralysis of one or both legs (due to the egg putting pressure on the nerves that control the legs)
  • vomiting.
6 Jun 2020

What are the stages of peritonitis? ›

Peritonitis can usually be divided into an early formative or absorptive stage during which bacteriemia and bacterial toxemia preponderate, and the fully developed later stage in which circulatory disturbances and inhibition ileus preponderate.

Why do birds throw their eggs out of the nest? ›

In some species, egg-tossing is a strategy of clutch coordination; eggs are tossed until all birds in the common nest are ready to proceed with brooding. This helps to prevent early egg-layers from dominating reproduction.

Why do birds remove eggshells from nest? ›

(1963) sug- gested five possible reasons why birds might remove hatched eggshells from the nest: (1) sharp shell edges could injure newly hatched chicks, (2) unhatched eggs could become trapped inside hatched shells, thereby reducing hatchability, (3) hatched shells could interfere with brooding, (4) hatched shells ...

Do birds mourn their eggs? ›

No. Grief is a human emotion. Birds follow millions of years of instinct. Some may build another nest and lay more eggs.

Does apple cider vinegar Deworm chickens? ›

In addition to these valuable wellness benefits, apple cider vinegar for chickens is often used in an effort to prevent worms. Some worms can attack a chicken and cause it to become vulnerable rapidly. Apple Cider Vinegar's low pH destroys germs and worms.

What does apple cider vinegar do for chickens? ›

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens:

Reduce intestinal and fecal odor. Apple Cider Vinegar is thought to support animals digestive system by providing probiotics (also known as “good bacteria”) Helps break down minerals and fats. Assists the animal to assimilate protein.

Can you eat eggs from chicken with worms? ›

Roundworms Most Common Chicken Parasite

Very occasionally in severe cases, a worm can migrate to the hens' oviduct and a worm will be found inside an egg – a decidedly unsavory experience! Note: As unappealing as it may look, it is not a health threat to humans.


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