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chicken laying egg with no shell, just membrane...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

hi, i posted over in emergencies earlier today, but thought i could possibly get a better response here. 
our weather has been kinda overcast and rainy off and on the past week, as well as really HOT and humid.
yesterday my 2 hens (rhode island reds) did not lay, but that evening when i went out i found one shell-less egg laying on the ground outside the coop which is odd--the girls always lay in the coop.
this morning one of my girls is very lethargic, not eating at all and drinking very little, very runny poo. day #2 of no egg.
i think my other girl is laying the shell-less egg, there was another one there today.
both of them have been good egg layers--really bright yolks and thick shells.  a couple of weeks ago we got one egg with a super thin shell but then she went back to laying normal.
their diet is a mix of laying pelletts and mixed grain scratch along with fresh water daily, grass/weeds my kids pick for them (we don't free range as the hawks are really bad).  the hens are a little over a year old, just started laying within the last 3 months, they share a coop that is about 8feet x 5 feet with an attached pen that is 10x10 with 6 2 month old chicks (we're about to rehome 3 of them as they are roosters).  is there a reason for the odd behavior and odd eggs/lack of eggs?  i got some yogurt and put out there today but she turned her nose to that.  i also mixed up some duramycin that i had on hand, not sure if that could help anything.  there was a good amount of stress the other night as a raccoon got in the pen with them, but my husband quickly took care of that problem and we haven't had a visitor since. also, if the eggs return to normal and they are drinking the duramycin do we need to discard those eggs or are they safe to eat? any help would be appreciated.  thanks

post #2 of 17

Don't eat the eggs during medication and afterwards, for two weeks.  A shell-less egg is quite common for stress reasons, and many other reasons.  It's not a cause of worry unless they become really common with a particular hen.  What's important is offering crushed well-flaked oyster shell to your hens, free choice, so they can eat what they need whenever they feel they need it.

About your lethargic hen, it could just be the predator stress.  However, not eating and drinking is NOT good.  If she has diarrhea, she'll dehydrate very soon unless you are making sure she drinks water and eats something very easy to digest, like a little grated hardboiled egg. Give her water in an eyedropper, if necessary.  Give her Pedialyte for electrolytes and give her PolyViSol vitamins, without iron.  You can get them in the drugstore, liquid infant vitamins.  Give her a couple drops along her beak so she takes them in.  With that lethargic hen, I'd move her indoors where you can keep her warm and draft-free while she recovers.  I don't know what's wrong.  Maybe someone else will be able to help identify the cause.

post #3 of 17

I am eager to hear what folks say to you about possible causes for soft/no shell eggs. I have 3 laying hens. The 2 RIR's are laying fine, normal eggs. My young Australorp just started laying about 2 weeks ago. Her eggs have remained small and elongated but otherwise normal. Our weather has been hot and steamy as well, and they have slept on roosts in our caged run instead of their coop. We did get a big storm last night - stress? Their stools have all been messy, but I attributed that to their drinking lots of water.

Any ideas? She only seems stressed while trying to lay. She actually came over to my side and huddled, neck tucked and the rest fluffed like a big black basketball. I was puzzled, then she smoothed down and walked away leaving that soft egg behind!

just talking to my chickens...
with a flute
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just talking to my chickens...
with a flute
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post #4 of 17

wood&feathers :

I am eager to hear what folks say to you about possible causes for soft/no shell eggs. I have 3 laying hens. The 2 RIR's are laying fine, normal eggs. My young Australorp just started laying about 2 weeks ago. Her eggs have remained small and elongated but otherwise normal. Our weather has been hot and steamy as well, and they have slept on roosts in our caged run instead of their coop. We did get a big storm last night - stress? Their stools have all been messy, but I attributed that to their drinking lots of water.

Any ideas? She only seems stressed while trying to lay. She actually came over to my side and huddled, neck tucked and the rest fluffed like a big black basketball. I was puzzled, then she smoothed down and walked away leaving that soft egg behind!


I wouldn't worry about your young australorp, if I were you.  Beginning layers often lay shell-less eggs (also called rubber, jelly, or membrane eggs).  Their systems are still getting the hang of producing proper eggs.  The shell gland, in particular, gets a workout since the egg spends 20+ hours in the shell gland.  That's 20 hours out of the 26 hours or so of travel through the oviduct.  So it's not surprising that shells are a very common beginner's "error".

Older layers with frequent soft eggs often have nutritional deficiencies, like a need for more calcium or they need some of the other minerals/vitamins that help the body use calcium.  Often the deficiency comes from too many treats or foraging, where the hen doesn't have a constantly available source of calcium like crushed oyster shell.  Balanced layer feed usually has enough calcium for the feed itself, but a hen that is eating a lot of other things may not get enough calcium, especially if the soil she forages isn't calcium-rich.  Other problems can be stresses (of all types), a defective shell gland, tumors, etc.

post #5 of 17

I've been getting thin shelled eggs from one hen, and two have broken in the nest. I started oyster shells supplement. How long do you think it will take for her body to get enough to make a good shell? I found her eating the egg today, and don't want her to get into bad habits.

Lee - Wife, mother of two little boys, RN, owned by 3 cats, one dog, a NH red, an EE, 2 BRs, 2 SS roos and 2BOs, and 2 Welsh ponies.
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Lee - Wife, mother of two little boys, RN, owned by 3 cats, one dog, a NH red, an EE, 2 BRs, 2 SS roos and 2BOs, and 2 Welsh ponies.
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post #6 of 17

Have you also had a sudden heat spell?  If so, that will cause weak or soft shell eggs, temporarily.  Adding free-choice oyster shell to the flock's diet is good for them.  Otherwise, if you think heat might be the cause, I just posted about this on another topic, where the OP was from Maine.  Here's what I said:
"In the stress of intense or sudden heat, a laying hen has to regulate her body temperature.  She'll stop eating much feed, affecting her calcium intake.  She may pant.  Her blood's acid-to-base balance changes.  All this, and more, negatively affect her ability to maintain adequate calcification of her eggshell while she focuses on staying alive.  So, until the environment is back to normal temps, I wouldn't necessarily dose them with extra calcium or Vit D.  I'd give extra cool water, shade, and a breeze -- especially for these large birds."


Edited by feathersnuggles - 6/2/10 at 4:26pm
post #7 of 17

Leezybeezy~

Like feathersnuggles said, offer free choice oyster shell at all times as soon as your pullets start laying.  Also, make sure all your birds can get to it easily.  My BO's first egg was shell-less and even caused her to have a prolapse (inverted reproductive tract).  Very scary, turned out she wasn't able to get to the oyster shell as easily because she is so heavy and didn't like having to fly up to a taller roost where the shells were in a cage cup hooked on the chicken wire that separated the main coop from the storage area.  (whew long sentence!)  She has since recovered completely and lays nice big eggs for me now and every couple of weeks give me a double yolk one.

It should take a few days for her body to catch up on calcium intake.

Shauna ~ wife of a very tolerant hubby, mom of 4 beautiful children, one dog, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, 2 rats, & 22 chickens
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Shauna ~ wife of a very tolerant hubby, mom of 4 beautiful children, one dog, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, 2 rats, & 22 chickens
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post #8 of 17

I'm going with feathersnuggles on this one.  I have to up my protein in hot weather or else they will pick each other bald.  Just like we don't each as much or at all when we are hot, chickens cut back on quantity, which affects how much protein, calcium and other nutrients they are getting.  Increase the protein and calcium and see what happens.  In the summer, I use Purina Flock Raiser at 20% protein and free-choice crushed oyster shell.  Seems to work.

UGCM

I have it on the inside scoop that the chicken came first via priority mail and the egg arrived about 20 weeks later.  Mystery solved!

Hiding out in suburbia with 1 Red Star, 7 Black Stars, 3 Barred Rocks, 1 Buff Rock, 2 Black Australorps and 1 somewhat tolerant wife.
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I have it on the inside scoop that the chicken came first via priority mail and the egg arrived about 20 weeks later.  Mystery solved!

Hiding out in suburbia with 1 Red Star, 7 Black Stars, 3 Barred Rocks, 1 Buff Rock, 2 Black Australorps and 1 somewhat tolerant wife.
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post #9 of 17

I have  six years old hen (Silver Lace Wyandotte). Well, i had three, but two died before.
My old lady has a coop but she does not want to be there (she spends whole day in backyard), she picks place to sleep somewhere next to  the house and she layes shellless eggs.
Is it possible to help her or i just need to get rid of her?

post #10 of 17

Oyster shells or you can grind up egg shells to feed your hens.  They love them.  I always save the egg shells with the table scraps and feed them.

We get a soft shelled egg every now and then-usually from the younger hens.  But when ever I do see it I make sure to give them some egg shells that day.

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