Soft-shelled eggs

For a while now, at least one of the hens has been laying very soft-shelled eggs, not that many, maybe once a week. Sometimes, the shell is missing altogether, so the egg is just in its membrane. Whoever lays these eggs rarely does so in the nest box, preferring the roosting bars in the Cube!

Last week, I decided to take action and removed the chickens’ corn feeder, leaving them with just layers’ pellets, as well as some grit. The pellets and the grit contain all the minerals and vitamins the hens need to keep them healthy and happy, as well as providing the necessary calcium to keep the egg shells nice and hard.

I thought this had done the trick, as the week went by with not a soft shell in sight, leading me to think that whoever had been laying the soft shells had just been lazy, stuffing themselves on corn, which tastes nice but doesn’t do much for them, leaving no room for the pellets.

I didn’t clean the Eglu and Cube out on Thursday but when I did it yesterday, I found not one but two soft shelled eggs! One was wobbling like jelly in its membrane on the roosting bars but the other one was cracked open in the tray, presumably laid the day before as the yolk was practically glued to the poop tray!

So I’ve given them back their corn, which the others were thrilled about, and am now scratching my head as to what to do next. Trouble is, I’m not sure who the culprit is. If it’s one of the two young hens, it’s not a problem as new layers take a while to get to grips with laying and things like soft shells and double yolk eggs are common problems. Not that I view double yolkers as a problem, but you get what I mean!

However, I don’t think the pullets are the problem when it comes to soft shells, especially as the double yolkers are becoming increasingly rare. And it’s not Irene. Which means it’s either Willow or Buffy. My money has always been on Buffy but I’m not so sure now. Buffy’s been an extremely sporadic layer recently, but yesterday afternoon, after I’d discovered the broken eggs, I caught her in the nest box, looking as though she wanted to lay. She hadn’t and although I’ve just realised that I forgot to check when I shut them up, I don’t think she laid anything at all. Which means that Willow is the most likely suspect. Which is not good, as she’s been looking a bit ropey recently, but since she was laying nice eggs without any problems, I thought she was ok. But if she’s laying the soft eggs, then maybe there’s a problem after all.

Hmmmmm.

In other chookin news, Dolly Parton, our Pekin bantam hen, has gone broody and nothing seems to be putting her off, even dunking her bum in a bucket of cold water! I’ve given up and just make sure I turf her off her nest two or three times a day so she gets some food, water and a chance to scratch around. She’s got a long, long wait for any eggs to hatch: (a) Mama Silkie and her three chicks are in the broody ark so Dolly’s got nowhere to go; (b) I don’t want any more bantam chicks; and (c) I haven’t got a cockerel to fertilise the big chicken eggs. Well, there’s Flint the other Pekin bantam cockerel, but I think he’s a bit weeny to do the job!

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by thegardensmallholder on 11 April 2009 at 10:07 am

    When were they last wormed? A friend of mine had this similar problem with an older hen, turned out it was gape worm causing it. A good dose of flubenvet normally sorts it out.

    You could try giving liquid calcium too. I use Orego Stim in the drinking water, keeps poops (which is useful ;) ) and helps with strong shells too.

    I was getting a soft egg drama every other day from one of my new girls but the liquid calcium along with worming seems to have helped. Mind you, mine were worn out when I got them!

  2. Posted by thegardensmallholder on 11 April 2009 at 10:08 am

    Sorry, I missed out the word ‘firm’ after keeps poops! Not that Orego Stim keeps poops….its not that good!!!!

  3. Funnily enough, I was wondering about worms this morning. They’ve overdue so Flubenvet it is. Is the vet’s the best place to buy it or is there a good site online?

  4. Posted by welshpurpletree on 11 April 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I’ve been putting Apple Cider Vinegar in their water for a little while now, on the recommendation of Compost Woman, I’m sure she said it helps them absorb calcium and so helps them to have nice hard shells.

  5. We used to do that but I left the bottle up at mum’s when we moved and am yet to replace it. Never mind it’s only been since August! Anyway, I haven’t really noticed a difference between them having it or not. Suspect worming’s the answer, so must pull my finger out on that one.

    The good news is that Willow laid this morning and her shell was nice and hard, so she’s off the hook on that one.

  6. Did I hear my name ;-)

    I have notice a definate increase in shell problems, linked with me forgetting to add the ACV…I have a tap outside and now the cold weather has retreated it is back on, and I have been filling the drinkers from it BUT that means I am not mixing up the water with ACV and Citricidal inside and I have got a lot of ss eggs as a result….

    so I have gone back to mixing up the water in a 5 l bottle inside…
    ACV is supposed to help calcium absorption…and it certainly seems to do something…( or the lack of it soes, anyway!)
    :-)

  7. Posted by thegardensmallholder on 11 April 2009 at 11:54 pm

  8. Hey CW, your ears are sharp!! I shall be scientific about this. I’ll sort out some wormer (thanks, TGS) but if that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll go back to le vinegar.

  9. I wormed them as well… ;-)

    I tend to take the view that anecdotally ACV seems to do good things, I have noticed a difference when I forget to use it and it can’t do any harm…so I use it.

    But I agree about the worms as well, better do them and then you wil know its not that!

    have fun calculating the dose ( ha ha….) try a grape dipped in it for each of them ( if yours eat grapes, mine don’t ) or a bit of damp bread will work as well as thats what mine are mad for… (a grape sized bit!)

  10. Mine love grapes but get breadcrumbs everyday. The problem is going to be making sure that Speckle (she of the never-ending appetite) doesn’t scoff the lot…!

  11. Posted by Cristine on 6 November 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Hi there!

    I was reading though the comments about apple cider vinegar…how much should be used?

    I have 2 pekin’s, one drake one duck and she started laying for the first time last week. We got eight for eight days, but today being the ninth – no egg. I noticed her vent area was very dirty and had a discharge. Upon further evaluation I noticed a balloon shaped thing hanging out of her, then came yolk dripping everywhere!

    She seems fine now – it looks as if she passed 2 soft eggs, one with a yolk and one without. I am new at this as you can probably tell.

    Do I need to worm my ducks??

    Thanks for any advice you can provide!

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