We know that chickens generally lay their eggs In nesting boxes. The nesting boxes that we lovingly prepare for them and keep clean with fresh hay. I even put curtains around my nesting boxes to give my chickens their privacy.
So, why do I keep finding chicken eggs in my garden? What does it mean? Sound familiar?
You may find chicken eggs in your garden for several reasons. For example, your chickens may be going there to lay their eggs, or you may have a thief in the neighborhood…and I don’t mean the kind that steals your jewelry.
This article will go over the several possibilities of why you keep finding chicken eggs in your garden and what, if anything, you should do about it.
Your Chickens May Be Responsible
Even the most seasoned egg layers will change things once in a while. There are usually several reasons why chickens may be laying their eggs in your garden or elsewhere.
Let’s see why your feathered friends may be responsible for those mystery eggs in the garden.
- It’s too hot
- Your chickens are new to laying
- They wandered from the nest
- Crowding in the nesting boxes
- Nesting boxes aren’t clean
- No privacy
It’s Too Hot
Anyone who has chickens and lives in a warm climate at least part of the year knows that they hate the heat. Perhaps you’ve seen your flock panting like dogs (yes, chickens pant) when the mercury climbs?
If it’s hot outside, think about how hot it must be inside the coop and nesting boxes! In hot weather, especially with high humidity, your chickens may be laying their eggs elsewhere, such as under bushes or in the garden.
Your Chickens Are New to Laying
When young chickens begin to lay eggs, it’s not unheard of for them to get a little confused. Therefore, you may find eggs in strange places like your yard and garden.
By putting fake eggs or golf balls in the nesting boxes, you can help the younger hens figure out where they are supposed to be doing their business.
They Wandered From the Nesting Box
This is usually the case for free-range chickens, but if they happen to wander off a bit farther than usual and the urge strikes to lay, your garden or some other place may become a makeshift nest.
Crowding in the Nesting Boxes
Chickens are a lot like cats because there is a certain ratio when it comes to nesting boxes. Usually, one nesting box for every 4 to 5 chickens works. And if there aren’t enough nesting boxes for your hens, they will likely feel stressed and find somewhere else to lay their eggs.
Nesting Boxes Aren’t Clean
Your chicken coop needs a deep cleaning at least twice a year, and the nests should be kept clean regularly. Any nests contaminated with bugs or poop could cause your chickens to lay their eggs somewhere more pristine, like your garden.
Chickens need privacy to lay their eggs, just as we need privacy to go to the bathroom. Of course, some will gladly plop them anywhere, but I’ve had chickens that are really picky about their privacy (hence the curtains).
So if you see eggs in your garden, this could be another reason.
You May Have an Egg Theif
If you see broken eggs or egg pieces in your garden, chances are they got there because of a thief or predator. Eggs are a yummy source of food for animals and people, so it’s not surprising they get snatched up.
Let’s look at what animals may be stealing your chicken’s eggs.
- The family dog
- The chickens themselves
Foxes are notorious for stealing chicken eggs, and they will generally carry them away from the nest and either eat them or bury them in places like your garden. Unfortunately, foxes are also notorious for not only eating chicken eggs but eating the chickens themselves.
Ravens and other birds, such as magpies and jays, are the most commonly seen predators when it comes to nests of eggs. Ravens may eat the egg right in the nest and carry off the rest to somewhere like your garden, and it’s there you may find pieces of the eggshells.
Rats are also the epitome of the egg thief. I remember the scene from Charlotte’s Web when Templeton the rat was beside himself when he was given a rotten goose egg.
Rats sure do love what is inside those nests and have been known to puncture eggs on the spot to drink the yolk. However, they will also drag an egg away to a location like your garden and leave it there for further keeping, just as Templeton did.
Raccoons usually enjoy meat in the form of baby chicks, among other things, but they are also very crafty when it comes to stealing eggs. For example, they can cleverly sneak the eggs away from the nest (unless they eat them right there!) to a hiding spot such as your yard or garden.
Like the other critters, squirrels are pretty sneaky when it comes to chicken eggs. You will see squirrels after your poultry feed, too, so the temptation of a chicken egg is often worth the struggle.
Because squirrels tend to hoard things, you may see a chicken egg in your garden that could likely be from a squirrel.
The Family Dog
As silly as it sounds, your own dog could be the culprit. Dogs are famous for taking things and hiding them. So what better than a ripe chicken egg to save for later?
If you see the obvious paw marks (unless they are from a fox) in your garden, there is a good chance Fido is behind the mystery.
The Chicken’s Themselves!
Believe it or not, it may be the chickens themselves who are behind the mystery of the garden egg. As gross as it sounds, chickens will eat their own eggs if there is a deficiency in their diet, such as calcium. Calcium deficiencies especially will cause a chicken to seek out the supplemental diet egg.
Now, while a chicken isn’t going to drag her egg to your garden to eat it, she may lay it there and then partake in her feast. If you see pieces of eggshells, this may be the case.
Another surefire way to tell is if your chicken has yolk all over her face! This also works for the family dog.
Should I be Concerned?
You need not be overly concerned if you find chicken eggs in your garden. However, if you think your chickens are laying their eggs there, you will want to ensure they have a clean and quiet environment in their coop.
Remember, a dirty coop or one with little privacy is one reason why chickens may be laying their eggs elsewhere.
If you suspect predators are behind the deviousness, reevaluate your coop. Is it predator-proof? Is there any easy way for critters to get in and steal the eggs (including the dog)?
If you have evidence of your chickens eating their own eggs in your garden, make sure they have enough calcium and other nutrients in their diets.
There are many reasons why you may find chicken eggs in your garden. We’ve gone over why your chicken may be laying her eggs there or even eating the eggs.
We’ve also talked about the various predators that may have taken a liking to stealing your chicken eggs and burying them in the garden.
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