Tricky problem of egg eating
Jeremy Hobson says:
Although some people do so, it is a mistake to feed your hens eggshells (cooked or not); this is most definitely ‘bad’ practice. The reason it has been done in the past is in the belief that the calcium from the shells will eventually pass through the body and make the shells of future eggs. This is wrong – if you do feel you need to add anything for such a purpose, you should purchase oyster-shell grit; having said that, a properly balanced manufactured feed should provide all that is required to ensure hard-shelled eggs. You must, though, give your chickens regular access to flint grit which is necessary to them to be able to grind their food (chickens obviously have no teeth!)
As to preventing your chickens from eating their eggs now they’ve started, the only real solution is to remove the culprit. It’s a drastic measure – and one you might not want to do; so, make sure the nestbox is always kept clean and eggs picked up as soon as is practicable after laying (any traces of egg shell or yolk will encourage the others to peck out of curiosity and, once they’ve started, will discover they quite like the taste). You could try buying a couple of ‘dummy’ eggs in the hope that when your birds peck at these, nothing happens and they lose interest. Keep nextboxes dark (but remember that mites like such places so nest boxes need regular cleaning and dusting with a proprietary powder or spray).
Old-fashioned remedies to prevent egg-eating include packing an egg with a hot English mustard paste and allowing hens to peck at that – the theory being that they will not like the taste and be dissuaded from pecking at any eggs laid in the future. This can, on occasions, be successful and will most certainly not harm the egg-eater.