Was reading the Encyclopedia of Country Living's chicken section and planning to post about eggs and deer when I saw your post. The ECL says this:
"overcrowded chickens with insufficient space to run and insufficient gravel in their diet are more likely than others to develop into egg eaters. Make sure there's plenty of calcium in their diet, provide nests that are quite dark inside, and gather eggs frequently, even as often as 3x a day. A chicken who has learned the habit might learn differently if you plant an egg filled with red pepper to give an experience she won't forget. ...Penny Anderson of Aitkin, MN advises 'To cure egg eaters get plastic or a decorative marble eggs and set them out in the nests. Make sure to collect the good eggs asap.'"
if you plant an egg filled with red pepper to give an experience she won't forget.
That's such an ignorant quote to make you wonder if the rest is BS too. Chickens, like all birds, are not deterred by the capsicum in red pepper. It doesn't register for them, in fact, the pepper plant has developed this as a mechanism to deter mammals from eating their fruits (which destroy the seeds in their digestive systems), and to encourage birds to eat them (which disperses their seeds). My birds LOVE when I put hot peppers in the chicken tractor, they can't get enough.
I've noticed that egg eating is a crime of opportunity. Chickens will test and try almost anything. If an egg is sitting around and there is little else to scratch and peck at, they will try it. Try dumping a lawn mower bag into their paddock or run. Better yet, dump the garbage on the lawn, run over it a few times with the mower and use that. As long as there are delicious, yummy slugs, roaches, maggots, sowbugs, vegetable peels, what the baby or the dog threw up to scratch through and pick over, an egg sitting in a nest box is pretty uninteresting.
Keeping fake eggs in the nesting box is always a good idea IMHO
Collecting eggs in a timely manner also helps.
Having oyster shells available is another good thing.
Many types of poultry do not like grape flavoring.
As a last resort remove the egg eating chickens. If you are a breeder you likely restart a flock each year. Just keep a few rosters in the fall and process all the old birds.
Ha, it was wise of Carla Emery to quote out all the stuff she wanted to use but hadn't tested.
Capsacin was also evolved by peppers as a means to protect seeds from mold...really, seems to protect seeds from everything except, as you said, birds. And humans! Though enough of us are happy to help with propagation.
She still doesn't approve of my superhero lifestyle. Or this shameless plug: