BREAKING NEWS! What came first the chicken or the …


My oldest girl became a woman today.


First Egg





O.K.  I’ll try to calm down now and tell you the story of how this all happened.

Hold on.  I need a drink of water.  And maybe some smelling salts.  This whole episode has given me the vapours.

Before we get into it I should probably explain the whole egg thing.  YES.  Chickens can lay eggs without a Rooster.  Hens produce an egg every day the same way women produce an egg every month.  You only need the Cock to fertilize the egg to produce a chick/baby person.  I hate that word.  You know which one I mean … but it seemed appropriate for the story.

Alrighty …. so I went outside this morning as I do every morning to tell the chickens to be quiet.  They’ve been a bit of a heat score lately, screaming at the top of their lungs.  You see … I’m not entirely, completely sure that chickens are actually legal in my part of town.   Heh, heh.  Cough … sputter … yeah.  I’m kind of positive they’re totally illegal as a matter of fact.  So.  Anyhooooo  … ignoring that whole issue … the hens are acting up this morning so I went out to give them some treats.

Every morning it’s the same thing.  Say hello to the girls, give them some treats and check the nesting box for eggs.  I’ve been checking the nesting box since it was built.  Even prior to putting the chickens in the coop.  I’m hopeful that way.

So I fed the chickens, checked the nesting box (empty), and then decided to clean out their coop.  As soon as I opened the big double doors, I saw it.  And I was stunned.  For someone that’s been waiting and checking for an egg every day for the past 4 months, you’d think I’d be more mentally prepared.

I slammed the doors shut so no chickens could escape, ran into the house got my iPhone, the camera and a few different lenses.  RACE back outside in case the egg decides to walk away.

Phew.  It’s still there.  So I take one picture of the egg on my iPhone so I can send it to family members and then switch over to the real camera.  By the time I got 1 picture taken, the girls started making their way into the coop.  Like so …

First Egg3 chicken

That by the way is exactly how disgusting a “poo board” becomes after one night under 4 chickens.  I was too excited about the egg to worry about offending you with the dirty poo board so you’ll have to deal with it.  Gross.  I know.

It seemed awfully cute!  A chicken had come to inspect the egg.  The egg, by the way, had a shell as soft as tissue paper.  You can see my finger indent where I touched it.

First Egg2

Chickens get better at making eggs with practice.  Plus now that they’re laying eggs I’ll start giving them more calcium in the form of milk and oyster shells.  It helps to make their shells strong the same way it helps to make your bones strong.  ‘Cause I know you’re all sitting around eating oyster shells.

Norma made her way over to the egg.  Norma has ALWAYS been the most curious chicken.  So curious I considered changing her name to George.  I suspect the egg was laid by Norma because she’s the most mature looking.

First Egg 4 Chicken

After looking at the egg for a milisecond she tilted her head back as far as it would go and smashed her beak into the egg.  Seconds later Walnut showed up and all hell broke loose.

Chickens Eating Egg


Chickens Eating Egg2

Prior to them eating the egg I should have stopped them.  I should have done something. Anything!  But I was so stunned, and looking at it through the lens of the camera as it was happening made it even more surreal.   It was horrifying on so many levels.  #1.  My chickens are born cannibals.  #2.  My chickens are eating MY eggs!  If those hens wanna eat eggs, they can raise up a duck from scratch and built it a coop and feed it and so on and so forth. Until they do that, they’d best leave MY eggs alone!

So … straight to the Internet to find out what to do about this little problem.  Suggestions included giving the hens a bowl of milk in case they’re craving the calcium in the egg.  It also suggested you put a fake egg where the real egg was.  They’ll come around, bash their beaks on it and when nothing happens, they’ll lose interest in eating eggs.  Finally … if these two techniques don’t work, break an egg into the coop but spice the yolk with tabasco and pepper.  They won’t like it and they won’t come back for more.

I did the first two suggestions and I’m hoping it’ll work.  If not … I have a certain pepper grinder waiting in the wings …



Back to our regularly scheduled posts tomorrow …  for those of you who haven’t seen it … see the entire coop I built here.



  1. Rebecca says:

    Congratulations Karen! But you do know they sell those for pretty cheap at the grocery store, right? And it doesn’t requires months and months of construction work.

    • Karen says:

      Rebecca – Hah! Yup. Fully aware. I don’t find the grocery store to be quite as fulfilling though. For instance I don’t go out and sit quietly in the evening to watch my grocery store march itself off to bed. 🙂 ~ k

  2. Cheri says:

    ohmygod. You are so flippin’ funny and I would have reacted exactly the same way over my first egg. Oyster shells. how did you know??

    Great blog!!

  3. Christina Boyll says:

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!! After months and months of waiting this next step in the life of a chicken is cool to be a part of, albeit vicariously 🙂 !!!

  4. Renee says:

    Congrats! It’s so exciting to live vicariously through your blog. I would love to have backyard chickens or a goat!

    It’s illegal to have them here (I’m within a half mile or so of the “city limits” and on the other side of that imaginary line, chickens are perfectly legal!) but I see that’s not stopping you though… so maybe…

    The good thing is that we have plenty of places to buy free-range eggs around here, including our great local farmer’s market, so at least I can still get those!

    I wonder how many eggs you’ll be getting on a daily basis soon… I bet you’ve stocked up on egg recipes!

  5. Pati Gulat says:

    How awesome,Karen !! I understand the significance of this post…coming from hardy “chicken” stock myself !LOLOL!
    (i was raised on a farm)

  6. Marti says:

    Congrats Karen! I know you’ve been waiting for this. I think you ought to put some straw in the boxes where you want those chickens to lay eggs. By instinct, they ought to make nests and there are no nests to be made out of wood shavings. Run out to wherever you see those horses and finagle/buy/STEAL half a bale of hay or straw.

    And good luck getting ’em to stop eating their (un)young. Eggs minus fertilization is un-alive.

    This is pretty exciting. Portends lots of fun posts ahead! 🙂

  7. Chris says:

    WOOHOO! Congrats. I feel like I should send you cigars.

  8. Polli says:

    Oh YAY! But oh NO! You don’t want the chickens to figure out they can eat their eggs – you won’t have eggs! Bad, bad habit for them to get in to.

    Good luck! I hope you get one with no shell early on, those are cool, too. Freaky, but cool.

    I’m the proud mama of 15 ladies and one Dude, Looked Like a Lady. We’ve been trying to find him a home, but my kids don’t want to part with the lovely Sriracha (formerly know as Sweetsie.) Chickens are legal here, but roosters… not so much.

  9. I am not allowed chickens and I am too nervous to be breakin the chicken laws so I am getting quails. I will let you know how I go.

    Your chickens are pretty creepy..ever thought about tossing them a drumstick and seeing what happens?

    • Karen says:

      Shannon – Apparently chickens love to each chicken. Uch. I don’t plan on trying the theory out. Mine will be vegetarian chickens. I checked with my neighbours to make sure they didn’t have a problem with chickens. They didn’t so … I have ’em. I’m up to episode 6 of MasterChef Australia by the way! I finally got a glimpse of you the past 2 episodes! It’s a great show. ~ karen!

  10. Fiona says:

    I once ate a chicken sandwich outside, and bits of dead cooked chicken meat fell out – AND MY LIVE CHOOKS ATE IT. Egg eatin’ is nuthin.

  11. Sue says:

    It is so exciting! Nothing like fresh eggs that are laid that day. They by NO means compare to the grocery eggs that sat around for 2 or three weeks before you even saw them on the shelf in your local store! These eggs are so tasty you will never eat ordinary eggs again! The shells will harden up when your young ladies get more practice at laying too! Four of my grandchildren came over to visit me the day I got my first egg. I am not sure who was more eggcited me or them! Believe me if you thought your ladies are noisy now wait till they have something to brag about! Between me screaming like a banshee and the kids squealing at the top of their lungs, my daughter running for the camera and the dog barking I am sure I had all 4 of my children with less noise and fanfare…. Well maybe not!
    BTW ….don’t let them eat those eggs… Or you won’t get any! Remember those high paying jobs you do? Forget it for a while…. Watch for more eggs and get them quick! Have fun … No laying around for you now!
    From one old hen to the young chick! Xo

    • Karen says:

      Sue – I do NOT want them to eat their eggs. I’m going to keep a close eye on them now and remove the eggs quickly. Plus the wooden egg seemed to work. They whacked at it for a bit then walked way once they realized nothing happened to it. ~ karen!

  12. Tara says:

    We had chickens when I was growing up. The whole “cannibal thing” is unfortunately pretty innate to the essence of chickens. If a bird gets sick or injured, the flock will try to do it in. Seriously. It’s pretty shocking.

    One thing that sometimes set a chicken off on her own eggs was being threatened. I wonder if your hen decided to peck at her eggs because you were hovering and snapping pics of it? If a hen goes broody and she feels threatened, she’ll eat her own eggs. I guess it’s that whole, “If I can’t have ’em, no one can” thing?

    Congrats on your first mushy egg! Now you get to have a poo-ey cloth in your kitchen from washing the eggs every night! Success!

  13. AnnW says:

    If you ever get a good hard egg, why don’t you blow the inside out and paint it gold? Ann

  14. Julie shinnick says:

    OH how exciting!
    What a day of news!
    Your girls are starting to lay and my friend’s girly bits she had taken out a couple of days ago only had beginnings of cancer, not spread anywhere! So Yiiippppeeeeeee!
    It’s party time!
    As long as your girls don’t continue with their baby eating ways, all will be good!
    I can’t imagine the horror at seeing them go for it…..yetch…..

  15. JBB says:

    Grocery stores don’t make her scream.
    (That’s alright. They make me scream. But not in a happy, excited way. More in a ‘WHERE did you move the oatmeal to THIS time?!’ kind of way.)

  16. sue says:

    Oh, what a wonderful story…not the canaballism, but the whole saga of what happens and what you learned and then taught us. I would have reacted just as you did, while looking through the camera…shock! But, once you found out the reason for their behavior, it made sense. So, you are going to make sure they don’t like spicy eggs or are you going to do the fake egg thing.

    Congratulations to you and your hens. Oh, and I totally think you should change her name. Georgina on her birth certificate, but George for everyday.

  17. Jamieson says:

    Congrats, mama!

  18. Traci says:

    Oh my gosh!!!! I am so excited for you! I want a couple of goats, but 1. they are not legal where I live now and 2. almost my entire back yard is concrete, so life would suck for them here. After seeing your beautiful coop and your beautiful chicks I think I’m adding them to the little dream farm I have in my head. One day….One day…..

  19. Jules says:

    Wow Karen- that is NUTS! I’m not sure I would have even been able to capture the moment as you did…my camera would have been looking at the ground as I stared at them with my mouth wide open. Looking forward to seeing what tricks work to psych them out- who knew that was even something they would be inclined to do? ICK…disgusting cannibals! hahaha good luck!

  20. Karla says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. THIS. IS. SO. EXCITING!!! Not the egg eating part, the egg laying part. The egg eating part is weird, I had no idea chickens would do that!

  21. Jonalynn says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of reality! I too was freaked when I discovered chickens are omnivours. You definitely need to nip this problem in the bud. Chickens do enjoy meat, if you ever need a place for your leftovers. I would feed our outside cats leftovers and the chickens would peck them out of the way and steal it! As a former city girl this completely wigged me out!

  22. BTLover2 says:

    Now you’re going to be eating eggs with chicken parts! Ewww! I’ve got to tell you… this made me a little ill. I’m not very good with all that birthing stuff even if it’s an egg. You have just reinforced my feeling that I could never raise chickens. I’ll just continue to marvel at you… and hold my guts in.

  23. Angela N says:

    Woohoo!! An egg!!! My sis that got chickens about the same time as you got her first egg about a week or so ago. She was just as excited as you. Although her eggs are white and really small, like teaspoon sized small. Must just be different kind of chickens? I told her to come read your blog so she could come share her chicken excitement with you. 😛

  24. Bethany says:

    As traumatizing as I’m sure it was for you, they’re not TECHNICALLY cannibals. The egg white is the part that becomes the chick, but only when fertilized, and the yolk is the nutrient sac that feeds the growing chick, much like a human placenta. So while it’s kind of gross, it’s basically akin to the cultures that eat their own placenta after birthing (which science shows is actually amazingly healthy for you if you can get past the gag factor) (which I personally cannot). And it’s incredibly healthy for them. But I’m reasonably sure that when they start laying eggs with better shells, they’ll stop trying to eat them. Guarding her young is a mother’s instinct, regardless of species. I think hens have the ability to recognize when an egg is no good, like a soft-shelled one. Trust me, when they finally start really laying and trying to brood, they’ll start trying to eat YOUR hand when you come to take the eggs away from them. 🙂

  25. brenda says:

    I just read this post to my twelve year old son….he chuckled and said the hens should be punished…he wondered if you like fried chicken.

  26. Cheryl in Wisconsin says:

    Calmly explain to them that eating raw eggs has a risk of salmonella poisoning. Any hen that’s been around the block will understand and surely want to avoid that.

  27. Karen says:

    Chickens will eat ANYTHING! They are pigs with feathers. To get nice hard egg shells, make sure the feed they have is for ‘layers’ (chickens that “lay” eggs). You’re right on with the need for calcium. A cheap way to discourage them from pecking at and eating their own eggs is to put golf balls in the nesting boxes (or wherever they lay). Like you said, they’ll peck at ’em, it’ll hurt, and they (hopefully) won’t want to do it in the future. Hope they stay quiet enough so that you can keep ’em!!

    PS My husband and I live in the country just outside a major suburban area, and had 20+ chickens up until a few months ago. Now I actually have to GO OUT and BUY my eggs. Very strange. White eggs from a grocery store that are so uniform in size and clean seem ‘artificial’ to me. We need to get our own chickens again! PLUS, because they’re “pigs with feathers”, it’s awesome to throw out our excess food scraps for them.

  28. Congratulations! In theory, I’d love to have chickens. In reality, I don’t want the work. Therefore, I love reading about your adventure with the chicks.

  29. Karen! I’m ecstatic for you. I hope your attempts to stop the egg eating work well!

  30. Liz S. says:

    I recently got a co-worker into reading your blog. While eating lunch yesterday, we were discussing some of your favorite posts (I’ve encouraged her to go back and read older posts, like the yogurt tampon). Anyways, we were just saying how we would like to know what is going on with the chickens. We wondered when they would start laying eggs. Very happy for you and the girls!

  31. Jen says:

    You are so hilarious!!! As are your chickens! I so was not expecting the egg bashing. I’m trying to be all quiet and respectful of my kids doing their school work and you make me shoot milk out my nose! Thanks a bunch! Good luck with the decoys.

  32. Mindy says:

    Wow, that IS pretty exciting!
    In other news, never in my life have I heard of chickens eating their own eggs. Never.
    It’s true, you learn somethin’ new every day.

  33. Jillian says:

    Chickens really are nasty and will eat ANYTHING! Which is untrue of goats. But then again my chickens never ate the goats only their poo and other bodily fluids…totally disgusting

  34. Mickey says:


  35. Another Karen says:

    Congratulations! So, do we call you ‘Grandma Karen’ now, or would you prefer something more chickeny sounding?

    Reading this post, I’ve learned many things so far today. (1) Freshly laid eggs have a very soft shell (I always wondered if passing an egg was similar to birthing a baby); (b) chickens can feed themselves; and (iii) your chickens have you trained to feed them in the morning by making noise (much as my dog has trained me!).

    Here’s to many more fresh and beautifully orange-yolked eggs!

    • Karen says:

      Another Karen – Once the girls get some more practice at laying eggs, the shells won’t be nearly as soft. However, I’ve always found that farm eggs do have a softer shell than a store bought egg. It’s all so exciting. ~ karen!

  36. I literally just laughed out loud for about 3 whole minutes. Cannibalistic chickens?! Why does that not surprise me in the least? I’m glad you were there to capture the moment!

    On a serious note, thanks for sharing. My pre-hubs and I plan on getting a chicken coop as soon as we leave the city, so I’m ravenous (like your birds) for as much hen-raising info as possible.

  37. Pam says:

    I always wanted my own backyard chickens. Then I saw your poo board. Ick. Congrats on the egg though!

  38. Emily @ NewlyWife says:

    Congrats! I’m seeing scrambled eggs in your future… 🙂

  39. Tess says:

    I don’t know….but after reading your post and some of the comments, I wanna throw up.

  40. Kate S. says:

    “I APOLOGIZE IF IT SEEMS LIKE I’M SCREAMING, BUT I AM!!!!” I just started laughing hysterically, out loud, in a highly public place thanks to you. That made my day . . . even if a large number of people have now assumed I am a crazy person.

  41. Nancy says:

    OMG Karen!! This is so a weird sort of way…lol Congrats..I think…

  42. Karen J says:

    An egg AND 2 of your projects are on Design*Sponge today! (Best of Outdoors)…

    Congratulations Karen!
    Who knew when you went to sleep last night that this Thursday would be so exciting!?!

  43. Evalyn says:

    Congratulations! The cannibal thing is pretty gross and shocking, but as others have said, pretty normal for chickens.

    Also, you are a big hit over at Design Sponge today. They did not mention the First Egg, however.

  44. Evalyn says:

    “Breaking news” Hah!

  45. Theresa Clarkson-Farrell says:

    This is so cool! ( and yes alittle scarey) – keep posting we are on pins and needles!

  46. mimi says:

    Congrats, Karen! see, they were waiting until they got a good home to begin reproducing(ish).
    You must be so proud!
    Lol re Fiona’s comment. Actually, all the comment s today are great, mine seems really dull by comparison.

  47. Karen! Please reconsider the pepper/Tabasco idea. I haven’t read thru all the comments but in case it hasn’t been said, animals rip out their eyes trying to get that stuff out of them. Dunno if chickens would get it in their eyes but holy carp fish, I don’t want to make that many memory markers! YIKES. Must be careful I almost said/sent “mamory markers”. Shhh. I’ll go watch tv now.

  48. Janel says:

    Oh my… this was a laugh out loud post!! I realize that it must have been truly horrifying. But, if I had been there I would have rolling on the floor laughing at your expressions!
    I don’t know anything about chickens so I apologize for no good suggestions.
    But, thanks for making my coffee taste that much better this morning!

  49. Lindsay says:

    This is cool and gross at the same time. Who knew chickens would eat their own eggs!?

  50. Hi Karen,

    Your coop is gorgeous…I thought mine was cool and you put me to shame!

    Our chickens eat their eggs every time one is broken or one comes out soft like that (which doens’t happen hardly ever now that they are grown) but I just take it as, I don’t want the broken leaking egg anyway, so why not let them have it 🙂 I’ve heard the Tabasco thing works, but I don’t want them to burn their little chicken tongues.

    Your first omelet is going to be amazing! You’re almost there, once one starts they all start. Enjoy!

  51. Lin N says:

    Well I like to learn something new and your post did it for me today….along with an interesting range of emotion from excitement for you, ewwww gross, OMG, laugh out loud back to excitement for you. Congrats oh chick’n’egg mama!

  52. HilLesha says:

    Too funny! I’m not sure why anyone would get offended by this post. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      HiiLesha – ?? Was someone offended? I’ve certainly written some borderline posts, but this certainly wasn’t one of them, LOL. ~ karen

  53. Shauna says:

    Okay, so I have to go back to actually working right now, and didn’t have time to read all the comments, so I apologize if this has already been mentioned. I know you mentioned the oyster shells – good, when I saw your egg, my first thought, was, “that girl needs some oyster shells”. First eggs can come out nice and strong. When I saw them peck and eat the egg, I remembered reading somewhere that said that if you leave your eggs too long, the chickens will eventually eat them, sooo, I’m wondering if you’ve been getting eggs for a little while (not in the nesting box) and you not finding them, has caused them to start eating them.

    Our first egg was in the coop too. I had to close up the nesting box at night so they would start to realize it wasn’t a place for sleeping, only laying. All of our girls are laying now. It is, indeed, very exciting. My 3 year old runs around screaming that we have 4, no 3 eggs with them in his hand while I try to get him to calm down and get them in the fridge before he drops one. We’ve only had 1 casualty thus far.

    • Karen says:

      Shauna – Her next egg (which I literally caught the second it dropped out of her … sheerly a happy coincidence) was rock solid. I feed them Layer Feed which has calcium in it. I was waiting until I saw they were laying to get the Oyster shell for some reason. So, they have it, they’re eating it and I expect to be overrun with eggs soon. I have BIG plans for this single, first, solid egg! ~ karen

  54. Grace says:


  55. Linda says:

    That was fascinating! I can’t blame you for shouting. I would be shouting too! All of that hard work and you have an egg. I can’t believe they ate it. That is really weird. How mean of them. What do you do with that poo? I mean how do you clean it? I hate that I have to clean up my dog poop with plastic bags and throw them in the trash. So I just wondered what on earth you do with chicken poo. It looks wet and messy. Never saw that on Little House on the Prairie.

    • Karen says:

      Linda – Yeah. Most people who blog about chickens tend to only show the pretty pictures of chickens romping around their green meadows. Me? I show you poo boards. They’re actually quite a brilliant invention. I just pick the board up and scrape the poo into our green recycling bin with a paint scraper. I let it dry a little bit first. Like dog poop, it’s much easier to clean once it’s a bit dried out. ~ karen!

      • Shauna says:

        What? You’re not using it for compost? Are you doing the deep litter method in your run? Just throw the dried poop into the pine shavings with some food grade diatomaceous earth and rake it in. Once or twice a year is all you’ll need to completely clean out the coop/run and you can use the litter for your compost. Your garden (which is clearly not lacking) will be even happier;)

        • Karen says:

          I leave the poop in the run with the pine shavings. It turns to regular looking dirt in no time. I scrape the poo board into the green bin ’cause it’s more convenient! Good to know about the food grade diatomaceous earth. Feed store or hardware store? Or garden centre? ~ k

  56. Jen says:

    mazel tov! SO eggciting (sorry)!!

    BTW, since I too have the chicken wants, I read a lot of urban chicken blogs. Imagine my surprise when i read one post suggesting that if you are raising chicks you should give them SCRAMBLED EGGS to help boost their strength. I was horrified! And frightened! And more than a little curious what my egg would taste like.


  57. karenagain says:

    Hi Karen,

    I told your egg destruction story to my boyfriend (a childhood chicken farmer) and our friend (a current 100+ chicken farmer). They both agreed that now is the time for oyster shells. They both screamed at me trying to say this first… TELL HER SHE MUST CLIP THEIR BEAKS!!!! Our friend Abdulla screamed the loudest and wanted credit. He said if their beaks are blunt and rounded they wouldn’t smash the eggs. He clips and files all of his girls beaks. OMG, if you take this advice you must film it.

    Abdulla brought me a dozen farm fresh eggs on Thursday and we polished them off this morning. We soft boiled them and served them over fresh torn up buttered bread every morning. Ahhh, childhood memories comfort food.

    • Karen says:

      karenagain – LOL. Very funny. Give Abdulla the credit. Chicks usually come with clipped beaks, but now that they’re 5 months old, I’m afraid to clip them! I think I’ll wait for the moment and see if the practice stops. I’ve got 2 more actual eggs with perfect shells this week and they weren’t pecked at. Fingers crossed. Perhaps I should have your boyfriend and Abdulla do a guest post teaching me how to clip their beaks. I clip my cats toenails all the time. Can’t be that different. 😉 ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        I’ve read a lot of differing opinions on Backyard Chicken forums re: clipping of beaks. You might want to check it out. We’ve decided to forgo clipping ours and haven’t regretted yet.

  58. karenagain says:

    OMG I’ve stopped clipping the 14 yo cats nails. He just chews them off and leaves them laying around like the boyfriend. Like really? Why are boys and old animals so gross? Brian (my awesome little shih-tzu) and I are grossed out.

  59. kelliblueq says:

    Congratulations you little mother hen you!!!

    And um…eew.

  60. Gee says:

    Congrats on your egg!

    Your story gave this farm girl a good laugh! You think eating eggs are bad, you should see them polish off a mouse! Poor things don’t even know what hit them. The mouse thinks its in heaven eating the chicken feed and along comes momma hen. The chikens like earth worms too. Its commical to see them trying to steal the “treat” from another. Enjoy the rest of your eggs! The first ones are usually double yokers!

  61. TerriAnn says:

    Congrats! Totally shocking though – nature is beautiful and bizarre at the same time…

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