A shell of a problem

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by williampiel, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. williampiel

    williampiel New Egg

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    Jan 15, 2016
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    Curious if anyone else has had this issue and if so how does it happen/how do we fix it?

    Three days ago I went to get the eggs for the morning (we check twice daily, once at breakfast and once when we close them up for the day) and found a giant puddle of yuck in the box. It looked literally like someone had smashed an egg in the box except there were no shell fragments or anything from the membrane of the egg or anything. I hoped it was a fluke but it has happened again yesterday and today. Its hard to pin down who it is "laying" it because our girls moved around the different boxes. We have two Buff's, two Brahma's, two production reds, two spotted Sussexes, two black Austrolorps (sp?), and one silver Wynnadotte. I've checked out everyone's backside for tell tale signs and saw nothing but a little bit of normal poo stuck to feathers here and there. Anyone else ever have this issue???


    [​IMG]

    its hard to see on the shavings but the left side there is yellow shmegma that looks very much like yolk and then the rest is clear fluid.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  2. GitaBooks

    GitaBooks Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    I have had this problem multiple times and sometimes there is an easy way to fix it and sometimes that individual hen has a problem.
    Hens that lay shelless eggs tend not to have messy back-sides because the egg has a membrane around it that breaks in the nest box after laying.

    The reasons for shelless eggs could be that it is the beginning or end of that hens cycle (nearing molt?), a change in lighting (too much or not enough perhaps?), not enough calcium (some oyster shell fixed our problems nicely), or a hen that is laying more then one egg a day (which we have had happen) in which case a shell has no time to form.

    The best thing to do is offer oyster shell or another source of calcium into the diet so the hen can form a nice, strong shell around the egg.


    Hopefully this helps answer some of the questions. Best of luck!
     
  3. williampiel

    williampiel New Egg

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    Jan 15, 2016
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    I was thinking about trying to offer oyster shell. All of our birds have been laying steadily since they came of age. All 11 are between the ages of 8 to 11 months so definitely not at the end of laying either.

    I was thinking it might be something along the lines of the whole rubber egg situation but i didnt see any pieces of a membrane of any sort so it had me confused. we'll give the oyster a try and report back. When that solved the issue for you how long did it take to resolve?
     
  4. GitaBooks

    GitaBooks Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    My hens that were doing this were between one and two years of age and were nearing the molt with autumn. They did begin to get some shells after a couple of weeks but then they ceased laying for their molt. Now that laying is beginning again, I have had no problems.
    Membranes can sometimes be found but also sometimes hens will learn to eat the membrane, which I have had happen as well. That is the real trouble with soft eggs. My hens got to the point where they would lay their shelless eggs while they walked around and other hens would follow behind and eat it as it came out. Thankfully, this has now stopped.

    A hen does not have to be nearing the end of laying all together to be at the end of a cycle. I think I heard somewhere hens lay for 5-6 days and then skip a day and restart their cycle. Then there is the hormone change that comes with less light with winter. Then there is age. Thankfully, now that my original hens are getting older I have a lot of new pullets to pick up the slack.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!

    A s'hell of a problem'...hahaha!

    Hmmm...could be several things going on.

    Someone's laying soft or thin shelled egg and they are easily broken by being stepped on.
    A broken egg is fair game for them to eat IMO, and won't necessarily lead to a bad eat eating habit.
    You could have a certified egg eater, pecking open even good and hard shelled eggs and eating them.
    With any eaten egg often there's nothing left but what they can't pick up, usually a wet mess like in your pic...or could be pieces of shell or membrane left.
    Best to stalk the nests for a couple days and grab eggs frequently as possible, both to find out what is being laid and removing it before it can be eaten.

    The 'why' is another story.
    It can be a lack of protein, calcium or an individuals inability to absorb these nutrients.
    It could be stress.... from crowding, changes in population, predator attack/scare, housing, etc.

    I've had many eggs eaten...usually soft or thin shells from new layers or old girls going into/coming out of molt that got broken.
    I just keep a close eye after that and it usually resolves. I've been lucky I guess.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  6. williampiel

    williampiel New Egg

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    Jan 15, 2016
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    glad you picked up on my humor there lol.

    and yeah it doesnt sound like its quite what you are describing but its definitely some good information to have in mind. They are pretty consistant about not laying outta the boxes so it doesnt seem like that kinda situation and i have never ever found any eggs that have been pecked at. tis quite the head scratcher.

    I've given them oyster yesterday and today and hopefully it begins to resolve. Haven't found a mess yet today with about half of what our daily production is completed so we will see.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What are you feeding?
    Protein and calcium levels?
     
  8. bigt447

    bigt447 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Don't think that lack of calcium is your problem, however I saw this as an opportunity to share how I boost calcium intake 2-3 times per month. I mix crushed oyster shell with oatmeal & yogurt. They love it. I always have good, firm shells.
     
  9. weezy123

    weezy123 New Egg

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    I have been having the same problem.
    I have found that if there is a yacky mess like the picture, I look around the yard where the chickens roam. I have found the rest of the egg in odd places. Some days I get very soft shell eggs or broken one, then I will get a few hard shell ones. Added high calcium feed hoping it will help. not helping as of yet.

    I do have lights on since it get so dark early. Some of my problem i am thinking is its not on a timer and I forget to unplug it at the same time every night.
     
  10. williampiel

    williampiel New Egg

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    Jan 15, 2016
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    Sorry for lack of update, i'm in nursing school so free time is non-existant.

    We are feeding organic layer pellet from the feed store we have in town. Nothing too special. Also giving scratch from said store in small amounts every other day.

    As far as the issue itself goes, it cleared up the day after i posted and i have not seen it since so i am not sure what to say. I guess its some sort of cyclical thing like the original response said.
     

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