The Chicken Coop Smells Like Mustard

It’s been a week now after putting in a scratch block, hanging a scratch brick when the block was about gone, everyday outside time and blocking off the laying box that had the most broken eggs, the girls are still pecking and eating eggs. Averaging six a day. We had caught Wilma in the act and hoped it was just her, as the majority of broken eggs were in her box. I put her in her own pen for a day and there was no change, so she rejoined the flock late in the afternoon the same day.

I also gave them a separate dish of oyster shells, just in case. I know dietary changes won’t fix a possible deficiency over night. I am impatient. I was hoping that after a week there would be some noticeable change. The last two days egg production has been unusually down. I will take some responsibility for that, messing with their routine and everything is bound to throw them off some. The egg eating has not slowed down at all and is continued in every box as well.

It was time for “Operation Mustard Egg”.

From what I understand chickens do not like mustard, which it too bad because it’s pretty good with eggs, and for how many they eat they might as well. But they don’t and I planned to use this against them. I took 6 eggs that had been pecked but not yet eaten and removed the insides. Like a Ukrainian egg but not nearly as perfect or pretty. I then filled each egg with yellow mustard.

ukrainian egg

The chicken light turns on at 6:30 am. I finished my cow chores shortly there after and headed to the coop. I placed one mustard bomb in each box. The hole facing back so they wouldn’t notice. I finished the chicken chores as usual and went back to the house. A few hours later, I went back to the coop to collect the eggs so far, which was comparatively dismal to days prior. The first thing I noticed when I opened the door was the place smelled like mustard. I knew at least one had fallen for the bait.

Mustard Bomb Eggs

In fact a few must have gotten it because each mustard egg was pecked, smashed and uneaten. The other eggs that had been laid so far that morning had some mustard on them but were not pecked. I removed the eggs and place a golf ball in each box. They can they peck the golf ball to their little hearts content until they figure out that what is in the boxes are no longer edible.

At the end of the day there were no eggs pecked, aside from the mustard ones and production was back up to the normal two dozen. Now to see what today brings.

***Update*** I have left the golf balls in the laying boxes for two weeks now and the number of pecked eggs has decreased to only one or two a day. They do help.

** Note** If you don’t use a pre-pecked egg, remove the “innards” as you would a Ukrainian egg, fill with mustard and seal the egg with a little paraffin wax. I didn’t wax mine because the beak holes were much too big.

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  1. I’m glad to see that SOME of the hens were discouraged – it didn’t work for me when I had egg-eaters – they seemed to LIKE it. I read that hickens don’t have a sensory ability to taste or detect ‘hot things’ like mustards, or chilies). My hens were cochins (not ‘great’ layers) and 3 y/o then, so not laying every day. This problem occurred for at least 2 months before I finally got it figured out. I’m sure it was started by one hen who checked the condition of her egg (as they sometimes do), and once she got a taste of it was hooked. The other hens caught on because they were curious as to what snack she was having… and at one point I even caught the rooster pecking an egg with the pack of them! Eventually I caught all the offending hens by using the ‘Mustard Bomb’, lol (because 3 out of the 9 had mustard on their beaks). I told them each “no!” very sternly and put them in Time Out. A caged-off area in the coop with feed and water. They could see everyone else getting to go outside and come in at will, and maybe even get some bread crusts and scratch…. and on the 3rd day I let them out. Only one hen persisted in eating the eggs, and after another week of numerous trips out there, I discovered her, put her in time out alone for 2 more days, and she quit doing it. I also made sure they didn’t have cause to be bored, and I used the golf balls to discourage further curiosity. I can’t believe they know what “NO” means, (even if you catch them in the act and cage them up right away), but that really was what worked for me. Good luck with this!