six months ago we bought 4 white leghorn chickens and after months trawling through BC every time I was unsure of something I finally decided to sign up!
So we bought 4 female white with red comb leghornes (according to the lady we bought them from they are from Tuscany and great layers). One 'Nanna-stubs' was a runt that ate double the amount of everything but never really grew (she looked like she was 3 months old the whole time) and one day we woke up to find her dead. Two weeks ago our first chook 'Black Foot' started laying - however a few days ago we had to cull her because she had sever prolapse to the point that she couldn't poop properly (hanging out her bum). Blackfoot was laying up to three eggs in one go! Her eggs varied from normal, to huge duck sized double yokers, to soft shells, to a weird oval and freakishly long egg. I read that it could just be a genetic kind of thing and hoped that the last two remaining chooks would be fine when they started to eventually lay. However, yesterday our second chicken laid its first eggs with no problems, but today it laid a huge duck sized egg and is still sitting in its basket with its eyes shut, panting (4 hours now) and I'm really worried that she too is going to get sick or have to eventually be culled.
We are completely new to chickens and I'm not sure if it's something that we are doing wrong or whether it's just bad genetics? We bought this normal chicken feed pellets and scratch and feed them this in the morning. Two days ago I started mixing plain yoghurt (which is cheap here in France) into their morning feed for calcium as our first chicken produced soft shelled eggs twice. Occasionally we given them food left-overs or scraps but this only happens twice a week because my husband and I simply don't generate enough left-over wastage or scraps between us. The only veggie scraps we end up with is carrot and potato peels. We tried giving them lettuce or rocket scraps but they won't eat it. In terms of their environment - we have them in a small outdoor garage with a big long box of straw, individual boxes filled with hay they they sleep in and a wide ladder that they walk up and onto a large granite table. The sun comes up here at about 7am, and they get put back in at 6pm (but there is a glass door so they still get light). My husband are in the process of building our own coop.
Can anyone work out what on earth is going wrong and why our chickens struggle from the second day they start laying? Why their eggs are soo huge etc? It would be greatly appreciated and give me some peace of mind.