Six Steps to Keep Ducks From Eating Their EggsMarch 13, 2011
Some poultry develop a habit of eating freshly laid eggs. We have never seen it in geese but have with ducks. It can be prevented if you follow these steps, with the most important first.
1) Have an adequate number of well bedded nest boxes. It is highly unlikely a duck will purposely break and eat an egg. Normally they acquire the taste when an egg is accidentally broken and they find they like the taste. So make sure you have enough nests (a minimum of one nest for every four females), your birds are not overcrowded (at least five square feet per bird) and each nest has at least two inches of wood shavings, sawdust, straw or hay in the bottom. It is important there is a 3-4” front on the nest so the bedding stays in the nest. We will discuss nest construction for ducks and geese in a future blog. We have found the larger, clumsier ducks, such as Pekins, accidentally break and then eat more of their eggs than the lighter breeds.
2) Pick up any broken eggs quickly and do not toss cracked or broken eggs back to your ducks.
4) Remove the offending ducks. Watch your birds and see which are doing the breaking and eating. Any incriminating yolk on their bills?
Some people have said to put hot pepper in an egg and the birds will learn to not eat broken eggs due to the pain from the peppers. The problem with this theory, however, is that peppers cause no discomfort to birds! They even put hot pepper in bird seed to prevent squirrels from eating it! In my research I did find there is a compound, methyl anthranilate, that birds detest. It is a naturally occurring compound that is found in concord grape skins and burns the pain receptors in birds just like hot peppers do us. It is used in all sorts of bird repellents but it is not sold in smaller, retail quantities. I wonder? Is there enough methyl anthranilate in grape juice to train ducks to not eat their eggs?
I ran an experiment by putting duck feed in two troughs. In one trough I poured water on the feed at one end of the trough and Welch's grape juice on the feed at the other end. On another feeder, I poured water on half and Grape Kool-Aid on the other. The result? All was equally eaten. If there was any methyl anthranilate in either product, there wasn't enough to bother the ducks! Of course, hungry ducks will eat most anything. It is like putting two kinds of feed in front of a hungry Black Lab (our dog). Everything will be eaten – taste does not enter into the equation!