Do fake or pot eggs help chickens lay?

A selection of fake eggs in a nest with some chicken eggs

What are fake eggs used for?

Fake or pot eggs are used to show chickens where to lay. It plays on the psychology of chickens as they prefer to lay in a nest that already has an egg in it.

Fake or pottery eggs are used to show chickens where to lay their eggs not to encourage them to lay more eggs. It's not so much of a trick as much as a suggestion of where to lay.

Below: I use a few golf balls in the nests as fake eggs.

Fake egg were made from unglazed ceramic in the past times as they were not cold to the touch in the nest and felt very similar to eggs.

Ceramic or fake eggs are seldom needed for naturally raised birds as the mother hen will show them where to lay. Hybrids rised in large sheds have no example and can struggle.

What are fake eggs made from?

In the good old days fake chickens eggs were made from pottery and called pot eggs. Nowadays they are normally plastic. Unglazed pottery feels very similar to egg shell although it turns out it makes little difference to the chicken what they are made from

Fake chicken eggs can be made from :

  1. Pottery.
  2. Wood.
  3. Plastic.
  4. Stones - round stones from a river bed work fine.
  5. Just about anything plain, round and smooth.

Can you make your own fake or pot eggs?


You can make your own fake eggs for your chickens nests. You could carve them from wood or make them from clay and fire them solid.

Try blowing out an egg and fill it with plaster of paris, salt or candle wax. If you use salt then seal the end with wax or hot glue. Varnish to strengthen the shell and leave to dry for a few days.

If you only nedd one in the short ternm you could even use a hard boiled egg in the nest for a few days to show young birds where to lay.

What to use as fake or pot eggs:

Here is a list of all the things I have used in the past as fake eggs to go in my nests.

  1. Golf balls - cheap, easy to get hold of and ever lasting.
  2. Plastic bouncy ball eggs from a joke shop.
  3. Round stones from a river bed.
  4. Wooden balls

Do fake eggs help chickens lay?

Fake chicken eggs only help if the hens are laying their eggs all over the place or outside. They are to show the birds where there are to lay and don't work to encourage them to lay more eggs.

They were traditionally used to show growing birds where the nests are so as they lay in the right place from day one.

Below: It can be quite common for artificially raised chickens to struggle to know where to lay eggs. This nest was hidden in the hay in a horse barn.

As is always the way with chicken keeping this is an issue that is best sorted before it becomes a problem.

Young birds raised with a broody hen will probably learn from her where to lay.

Should you leave an egg in the nest?

You can leave an egg in the nest but it may end up with one getting broken and eaten and getting a chickens started as an egg eater is not a lace you want to go.

This is why pottery eggs were chosen as they are indestructible by chickens and can be safely left in the nest without starting an egg eating habit.

Fake pottery eggs can help break an egg eater. If they can't get into the shell they give up.

How do you encourage chickens to lay in nests?

Chickens can be shown where to lay eggs in a few ways:

  • By shutting them in for a few hours in the morning.
  • Using pottery or fake eggs in the nests.
  • Making the nest darker.
  • Adding better or more bedding or fresh herbs to the mix.
  • Raising or lowering the nest boxes or making sure they don't face each other.

Where to get fake eggs:

You can buy them from poultry suppliers, order them from Amazon or just collect then over the years. I walk my dog near a driving range and often find stray golf balls.