Archive for April 11th, 2009

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!