Broken egg in nest box almost every day

birdmomma

In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 22, 2010
48
0
22
Loveland, OH
OK - so my 8 barred rocks are starting to lay, but for this past week or so some one is breaking an/her egg in the nest box. Then this morning, DH let the girls out and turned to check the boxes and when he turned around, there was a egg right outside the coop, broken. It wasn't eaten at all, just broken. Could one of the girls be laying very fragile shells? I thought that eggs were designed to be strong, on the whole. And the color of the shell seems to point to the same girl, since we get a variety of shades of brown. Any ideas on what to do? I've got oyster shell out, free choice, though the feed I have doesn't include it.
 

ailurophile23

Songster
9 Years
Dec 21, 2010
492
56
111
VA
It could be a number of things. The egg outside the coop could have been laid on the run or fallen out of the coop or.... that one wouldn't concern me. The continued broken eggs in the nest box could be fragile eggs or the work of an egg eater or maybe you don't have enough "padding" in your nest boxes. I know I have to keep a certain level of sawdust in the nest boxes or I start getting broken eggs. It wouldn't hurt to mix some oyster shell into their feed as well as free feed it to them - I find mine are more likely to eat it if it is mixed in the food. Does the feed you use have calcium in it? If not, you m ight want to mix some layer feed (higher in calcium) in with your regular feed. Do you give the hens any greens? Dark leafy greens and broccoli tend to have calcium as well and chickens often love these. Good luck with this and let us know if the situation improves. ~Laura
 

birdmomma

In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 22, 2010
48
0
22
Loveland, OH
Thanks for your answer - I recently started an organic feed and it doesn't have oyster shell in it; I got it because it's non-GMO. - I'll try mixing the shell into the feed - (I also mix DE in there, so I'll just do it at the same time) The nest boxes are sort of small, and they tend to kick a lot of the pine shavings I put in there out - I've wondered if the space is just too small, though all the rest lay without any problems. I'm just concerned that if they are fragile shells, is there a danger that she'll break them internally?
 

Nicole01

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 28, 2011
5,492
95
268
MN
We use oyster shell and our egg shells are pretty tough to break open. My RIR kicked my SS's egg out of the nest and fell 2 feet onto the cement. It didn't break until I stepped on it. Then the white and yolk shot across the room.
That is a tough shell!
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,272
14,636
727
Southeast Louisiana
If it is only one hen with the egg shell problems, it is probably more to do with how she processes the calcium internally than whether she is eating it. You have not mentioned that the egg shell is actually thin, just that it seems the same one is usually the one broken. That is a reasonable assumption, but you can compare that egg shell to a regular egg shell to be sure.

Since it is the same hen's eggs, that pretty well rules out any egg eater or egg predator. That is good news.

If the hen is just starting to lay, problems with the first few eggs are not unusual. It sometimes takes a couple of weeks for a pullet to work out the kinks in her internal egg laying factory. Since she is just starting, I'd give her a few days or even maybe two weeks to see of the kinks get worked out before I got very concerned.

How high is the lip on your nest boxes? I had to raise mine to about 5" to 6" to stop them from scratching out the nesting material when they are arranging the bedding. And yes, you do need enough nesting material to soften the landing. The hen does stand up when she lays the egg, so it does drop a bit. It does need cushioning.

I'm not a proponent of mixing oyster shell with their feed. It goes against he grain for me to force them to eat something they may not need. Sort of too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. But there is nothing wrong with offering oyster shell on the side. I do, although they seldom eat any.
 

ailurophile23

Songster
9 Years
Dec 21, 2010
492
56
111
VA
Quote:While I agree with you on this in general, I have noticed with my hens that if I just offer the oyster shell on the side, they rarely touch it and the egg shells start to get thinner with more cracks or breaking. When I mix a small amount into their feed, they eat some of it though there is still some left in the bottom of the feeder when the feed is gone but their shell breakage rates go down. I guess I don't see it as forcing them to eat it since they can obviously pick around it - it's just that they seem to prefer the regular feeder as a method for dispensing the oyster shell compared to using a separate feeder for it. In terms of amount, I am putting maybe 4 ounces of oyster shell into a 3 gallon bucket of feed.

Birdmomma - the great thing about this site is that you will get lots of suggestions and you can find one or more that works for your situation! Just be prepared to experiment a little.
 

dbounds10

Songster
8 Years
Mar 15, 2011
630
17
131
Fort Worth, Tx
I use nest pads bought from eggcartons.com and they have stopped all my breakage problems. I too have a shell feeder and it has never been touched in 3 weeks. What I do when i notice shell quality going down is grind up the shell and grind up some layer pellets. Then I mix some of that powder into their favorite treat (cottage cheese) for a few days and then shell quality comes back up.
 

Buff-Island-Australorp

Songster
8 Years
Apr 1, 2011
192
11
101
Bixby, OK
To hopefully remedy a portion of getting broken eggs, I cut some of that foam material that lays on top of a mattress (egg carton foam stuff). I stapled it in each of my 3 nest boxes and laid the bedding back on top of it. Now it feels like the whole nest has springs under it. The hens don't seem to mind.
I've read that when the hen actually lays the egg, they stand up a little bit, or raise their hind end way up, causing most eggs to fall a short distance. I noticed too, that my hens will scratch out the center of the nest box, right down to the plywood bottom, and make a perfect bowl in there. Another reason for the foam I stapled to the bottom.
I've only had one broken egg, and that was prior to the foam.
 

heatherkh

Chirping
8 Years
Jul 21, 2011
283
4
91
Clackamas, Oregon
they tend to kick a lot of the pine shavings I put in there out

When we had this problem, I just nailed an approx. 3" lip to the front of the nesting boxes to keep the bedding in place. Been smooth sailing ever since.​
 

birdmomma

In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 22, 2010
48
0
22
Loveland, OH
OK - so I was out this morning purchasing oyster shell and astroturf for the nest boxes, when DH called - he was working out in the yard. He claims that he had checked the boxes which were empty at that point. One of the girls went in and stayed in for a long time. He checked on her at one point, and she left the box, then returned - still empty, he claims.
and when she finally came out after making a lot of noise, he says this was in the box. Is it possible for one girl to lay 3 eggs at one time? One seems perfect, one was crushed and the 3rd is just weird looking - sort of crinkly. Any thoughts?

 

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