Why do hens push eggs out of the nest?

Hens can spot bad eggs quite well

This is something that has confounded chickens keepers for ages, you go in to check on your broody hen around a week or so into her sitting and there is a single egg rolled out of the nest and half way across the broody coop.

Hens do sometimes kick an egg out of the nest and there is usually a good reason, It may be bad, infertile, have a cracked shell or simply be uncomfortable for her. If you have a hen that has removed an egg from the nest you should respect her judgement and take it away.

It occasionally happens with layers as the hens rearrange a nest, they roll one out.

Having raised thousand of clutches of over the years I have noticed these discarded eggs are nearly always either infertile or dead in shell.

This sort of disruption is also common if you allow broody hens to sit on eggs in with the min flock, rather than being on her own.

Although hens like nests with eggs in, if there are too many they may end up re-arranging things before the settle and this could lead to eggs on the floor.

Why do broody hens roll eggs out of the nest?

Hens seem to have an innate or in built ability to sound out problems with eggs. If you find your broody hen has rolled an egg out of the nest you should respect her judgement and remove it from the coop.

Reasons hens roll eggs out of the nests:

  • The shells are cracked.
  • She is sat on one too many and it is uncomfortable for her.
  • They are clear or infertile.
  • The chick has died.
  • The egg is infected.
  • You have a young inexperienced hen.
  • Flock stress factors like overcrowding or too many roosters.
  • You could have vermin or rats stealing the eggs from under your hens.

It stands to reason that hens have evolved over thousands of years to protect their nests from dead, damaged or infected eggs that could ruin the whole clutch.