Nobody wants to go on a wild goose chase hunting for eggs in collecting farm fresh eggs from your chickens! Have you found yourself having to hunt for eggs like it’s Easter morning? If so, you’ve probably wondered, “do chickens bury their eggs?”
Do Chickens Bury Their Eggs?
Yes, sometimes chickens bury and hide their eggs. It could be because they see other chickens lying in a different spot; a specific area feels safer, the coop is dirty, or they could be marking their territory.
If you’re reading this, you most likely have found some eggs hidden and buried somewhere at some point in your chicken-tending experience.
Chickens are creatures of habit, but it’s entirely normal for them to lay eggs in other places. Find out what causes this behavior and what you can to get them to use the same spot.
Why Do Chickens Bury Their Eggs?
In the corner of your yard where the chickens free-range, you find a clutch of eggs. In the corner of the coop, under some pine shavings, you find a lone egg. So, why do chickens bury their eggs sometimes?
To explain this oddity in the chicken world, we must first take a look at chicken egg-laying and their hidden agendas and instinctual “rules” that they follow along the way. Chickens tend to be very selective about where they lay their eggs. They are also creatures of habit.
You will notice that certain hens will ALWAYS lay in the same box or corner.
Chickens, for the most part, lay daily. When chickens lay their eggs, they seek a dark, private, and enclosed space, usually away from other chickens. When they find this space and decide it fits their needs, they will revisit the same egg-laying area over and over like clockwork.
It’s also very attractive for a hen to lay an egg where another chicken has already laid an egg-monkey see, monkey do! This behavior has an unknown reason behind it, but chickens like to lay their egg where they see other hens have already laid an egg.
Possibly they feel that if another hen has deemed it a safe place, they want to lay there too. It could also be an act of “marking territory.” They like their chances of placing another egg with others to increase the likelihood that someone will go broody and hatch the clutch of eggs.
Chickens Will Argue or Bicker For Their Territory
Sometimes, hens will bicker over a particular nesting box or area to lay. If you have several chickens, it’s crucial to ensure there are enough nesting boxes to accommodate your flock.
Thus, chickens may also get new ideas in their head and “think outside the box” a little. They may decide that, for them, a better spot to lay an egg is in the corner of a nesting box or the coop, under some hay or pine shavings bedding.
Perhaps they do not even intend to bury the egg, and that hen, or another chicken, accidentally covers it up in digging around through the bedding hunting for food and bugs.
Free-range chickens may prefer laying eggs behind a tree, a pile of leaves, under a thicket of grass, or even buried in the dirt. It’s not unusual to find eggs being left in the most unusual places, especially if your flock is allowed to roam.
It happens. You may be doing yard work and finding an egg (or two) laid months ago! It is a mystery whether or not the hen intended to hide it, if it happened by accident, or if it is just natural to them.
How to Keep Your Hens From Burying Their Eggs
So, when you start discovering this phenomenon, how do you stop it? Nobody wants to go hunting for the eggs every day. It can be such a pain in the butt.
After all, there is no way to know if they are fresh when this occurs. There are a few things that you can try to coax your chickens to lay inside the nesting boxes, coop, or somewhere else in the chicken run or yard that is deemed acceptable. Let’s take a look.
Clean Out The Nesting Box More Often
Clean coops and nesting boxes are enticing and appealing to chickens. Chickens will be more likely to use the nesting boxes if all the poop and gunk is not allowed to accumulate.
Mites are drawn to dirty coops and can be very dangerous to your chicken’s health. Chickens will appreciate the clean enclosure and will want to be in there, laying fresh eggs.
Look for Secret Stashes
If you notice that your hen’s egg production is way down and you suspect you may have a hen burying eggs, you may need to set out on an actual egg hunt, especially if you free range your chickens.
Chickens will notoriously lay eggs beneath trees, in piles of leaves, under bushes, and they may get buried. One way to figure out where their secret “stash” is is by listening to the egg song that hens typically sing after they have laid an egg. It will give you some insight as to where they are likely to hide the eggs.
If you are lucky enough to find the secret, you should block the area off from your chickens. You can do this by using branches, rocks, and pavers. Hopefully, this will be a little nudge for them to go back to laying in their designated areas!
Collect Eggs Daily
Be sure to get out there and collect your eggs every day, or twice a day if you can. While a few eggs in the nesting box can be enticing to chickens and get them to lay their eggs in that same location, if the nesting box is overcrowded with eggs, it can deter them from laying there.
It will send that hen out, searching for a better place to lay her egg. From here, your chicken may end up burying the egg. Oh no!
Not only does collecting your eggs daily help prevent hens from going elsewhere to lay their eggs, but it also helps to make sure you don’t have broody hens and ensure that your eggs are as fresh as can be!
New chicken owners make the mistake of leaving the eggs in the coop too long because they think the chickens will get sad when you take their eggs. However, chickens don’t mind you taking their eggs, and collecting them will keep your hens producing in the same spot.
Use Decoy Eggs
Ceramic eggs carry the same idea that hens like to lay where they see others have laid. Fake or decoy eggs tell your chickens where you want them to lay. It is a form of encouragement for them.
Most hens like the comfort of knowing that another hen was safe laying her egg there. It is certainly worth a try!
Mix Things Up
Chickens run off of routine. They essentially do the same thing day in and day out. This behavior helps you know what to expect, and it makes detecting an illness easier, as chickens try to hide their sickness as long as they can.
However, if a hen is routinely burying or hiding her eggs, breaking the habit can be tricky. It will not be easy, but with persistence and consistency, it is possible.
If you usually free-range your chickens, keep them inside the coop or run until the afternoon, or all day if you would like. It will force them to lay in a much more ideal spot!
Do some coop redesigning and move things around a little if your coop allows you to. The new scenery will feel very new to the chickens and will force them to investigate and explore. Hopefully, they will find somewhere new that is optimal for them to lay their eggs instead of burying them.
When chickens bury their eggs, it can be confusing and frustrating. It sure makes it difficult to collect fresh farm eggs! Investing your time into shaking things up, using decoy eggs, cleaning the coop out more regularly, and collecting eggs more often can help to coax your chickens to lay where you would like them to.
Chickens seem always to have their agendas, and we have to play some tricks and work some magic to teach them where they should be laying their eggs. It may take some time and patience, but it will be worth it!