Aggressive behavior and soft shelled eggs, where am i going wrong?

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Brissiefarmer, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. Brissiefarmer

    Brissiefarmer New Egg

    Nov 8, 2014
    Hi BYC forum, Im a new member from Brisbane, Australia. i have three 'red' chickens we got from a produce store locally, I think they're Isa Browns. they are ten months old approx, or should I say we have had them ten months, Im not sure how old they were when we got them, 'just about to lay' according to the store, they eventually started laying ten weeks or so after we got them, but it was a hot summer so that may have delayed them.

    We originally had five, but one got sick, she started coughing, it took us a week or so to work out she was sick, then we tried sulpha in their water, but within two weeks she had sweats and a bubbly eye, and looked to be distressed, so she was dispatched humanely. She was our most friendly and interactive chook, so very sad. The others appeared fine for a few months, when another started looking straggly and unwell, thinner, then developed a cough. She joined the first under the mango tree. That was five months ago, the other three appear fine.

    We had initially intermittent eggs and various numbers, but since we lost the second chicken we have had three perfect, very large, eggs nearly every day. In the last four days something has changed. We get two perfect eggs, and one abnormal one. Day one we had a shellless or soft shell egg dropped under the roost, the second day one very brittle shelled egg which crumbled in my hand, day three brought a nearly normal egg with a very brittle pointy end, day four reveals a puddle of brownish egg liquid in the laying box, likely another shellless egg someone stood on.

    The other two seem to be laying normally, no-one is unwell. I am feeding them a 17 percent protein mix from the produce store, and they free range in the back yard for two or three hours in the afternoon. They get a tomato or two per week, and some kale or rocket leaves a few days a week, we have very few kitchen scraps. Since the egg problem I have started feeding them ground microwaved eggshell in their mash, and bought them some frozen peas which they love.

    Their food manufacturer seems to have changed the food, its now quite finely ground, and we started using the new feed about five weeks ago. Because it is fineground we bought a chicken feeder they need to stand on the bar for, which opens the lid. I have been mixing the finer feed with water to make a porridge or mush, as well. They are fairly bright, and seem to love the feed, but Im not sure they remember how to open the feeder later in the day. Initially it was empty every evening, now its often half full. I have been tipping the old feed out beside the feeder, and have noticed the old feed smells quite sour. Wonder if I may have caused a fungal infection? We have hot days and high humidity at this time of year. Im cleaning out the pen and going back to the open feeder today, the neighborhood pidgeons will love me.

    We have a large native bush turkey who has also moved in, she spends all day here, we have altered the coop door so she cant fit in there at night, also about five weeks ago. She has been here for months, seems well, and has attracted a male who also comes and goes, there may be some parasite our chicken has picked up from the wild birds.

    Lastly, one of our three girls has become more aggressive, she bites my hands, hard, when I put down their food too slow, she pushes the others out of the way for food, and she wont drop for a back 'scruff' like the other two do, and yesterday she jumped at my face when i bent down to pat the cat, I think she was interested in my earring, and then pecked the cats tail to make him run, all new behavior. I wonder if her dominance behavior may be associated with hormone imbalance, maybe thats what is causing the unformed eggs??

    Sorry to be so long winded, I am hoping someone can tell me if the behavior and the egg issue may be related, and involve the same chicken, orwhether this is likely to be parasite or fungal related, or a feed issue. Thanks in advance.
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Sorry about your sick birds. Sounds like you had/have some possible Coryza going through your flock. It is a nasty bacterial infection that is very difficult to treat and the birds become carriers for the rest of their days. Some people cull flock with Coryza, MG or MS. I had MS in my flock and chose to treat the flock I have successfully rid the entire flock of MS, however it was not easy.

    The thin eggshells can stem from a lot of things....the feed not having enough calcium in it or not as much as they say in it, many illnesses can cause thin shelled eggs, stress and old age will cause egg shell issues.

    As for the aggression, some birds just have that kind of personality. Illness can make a bird turn aggressive, as does stress.

    So my suggestions would be to start with a new feed. Not necessarily something with a high protein, but one that has more calcium in it. Always keep oyster shell on the side so she can get calcium in her system.

    Give her an over all exam. If you still feel there is a respiratory ailment running through your flock, get everybody medicated. Sulfadimethoxine or Duramycin works well. Get the flock wormed if you haven't done so recently.

    Make sure you are not crowding the birds in. Stress will cause all kinds of issues with egg laying.

    And if all else fails, give her some human grade calcium. I have an older hen that goes through phases where she will not put a shell on at all. So I give her half of a human grade calcium tablet daily for a few weeks. Something with Vit D and Magnesium in it along with the calcium. I break it up and put the pieces in raisins. This gives her the boost she needs to put a shell on.

    But as for her pecking at you, sometimes they are just curious and will go for parts of your face. Other times they will bite your hand and this is aggression. So just be very careful around her. I have been pecked on the lips and even in the eye ball once by a curious bird! LOL And the hen that lays the yolks would bite me just to be aggressive.

    Good luck with your flock and I hope you can get down to the bottom of the egg issue!!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
    2 people like this.
  3. Brissiefarmer

    Brissiefarmer New Egg

    Nov 8, 2014
    Thanks for the advice, I am on my way out to buy a different feed, will check the calcium content, and will try to find some oyster shell as well, planning a full cleanout of the pen and coop today. I havent seen any sign of illness but will give them a checkup today. I have actually never wormed them, so will head off to the produce store for medicine during the week, its Sunday and nothing much is open here.
  4. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    At our lodge
    My Coop

    I agree with Two Crows. Sounds like the sick bird has Corzyra. Hope she heals! You may want to post here to find out more on how to help her

    Your birds are probably not receiving enough calcium as stated above. Give them either oyster shells or crushed, rinsed eggshells. Have they just started laying? Newly started pullets often lay weak shelled eggs. Make sure they aren't stressed either.

    Agression is most common when birds are stressed. It can be from overcrowding, lack of nutrition o r protein, a terrorizing pet or predator or a stressful living environment in general. Hens can stop laying very easily due to stress and other things so make sure they live in a clean, spacy and safe environment, are not getting bullied, have proper food, water, calcium and protein, have proper nest boxes, aren't overcrowded, don't have parasites and aren't getting attacked by something.

    Good luck to you!
  5. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    G'day, I see you are an aussie. BYC has a very good aussie thread called "Australia, six states and one funny little island." I mention it because medications in Australia may be called something else, than the ones marketed in USA.

    You could also find bona fide breeders who would have good, healthy stock if you wanted to get more. They could also tell you what feed works the best for their birds and where to get it. Welcome to Backyard chickens.If you have other questions please do stop back and ask us.
  6. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I remembered something from your initial post that I failed to address in my reply. You mentioned the feed smelling very sour,. Spoiled moldy food can cause serious problems even death in chickens. Your weather is getting hotter as you approach summer. Feed that gets damp or is wet molds very quickly in warm weather. Sometimes feed is old or stored improperly at stores and or/ bags get wet and moldy or contaminated by rodents and bugs. Any of these scenarios will affect your bird adversely.
  7. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

    Jan 10, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us, but sorry about your chicken problems. You have already been given some good advice. The only things I have to add is make sure the tomatoes you treat them to are ripe…they should not eat green ones and also not tomato plants. Regarding pecking you,even the nonaggressive ones will go after rings, buttons, any jewelry within pecking distance.
  8. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome to BYC![​IMG] We're glad to have you.
  9. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 24, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!

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