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Chicken that lay an egg without a shell and egg eating chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jenyfromthecoop, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. jenyfromthecoop

    jenyfromthecoop New Egg

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    Feb 26, 2014
    Woodbury, C.t.
    Hello everyone,

    This is our second year of raising seven Rhode Island Reds, we absolutely love having chickens in our backyard! Two
    things I have noticed about our girls that worries me. 1) We have a chicken that is eating her egg as soon as she lays
    it and 2) We occasionally have a chicken that lays an egg without a shell. Can you please give us some advise on what
    to do? Also our production is down to only three eggs a day! Any advise is greatly appreciated.


    Jenny from the coop
     
  2. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Jenny!

    I love my RIR girls. So, here is the deal. Sometimes chickens will eat eggs. There are ways to break them of this. You need to buy some ceramic eggs and put them in the nest. They can be bought at the feed store or the craft store. Places also sell hard plastic ones, or you can try a golf ball (but I've not had luck with golf balls).

    Also chickens need calcium and grit to help form the egg's hard shell. Put a bowl of crushed oyster shell (available at the feed store) in the coop. It may seem pricy, but it lasts a long time. I also give mine a small bucket of sand. The grit helps to form the egg and it also helps with digestion. Hope this advice helps and by the way, I've noticed you don't post, so I'll give you a proper [​IMG] Feel free to ask any questions. We've all needed advice at one point or another.[​IMG]
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I had just read in my new issue of backyard poultry that hens that are panting from the heat will also lay shell less eggs. I agree with adding ceramic eggs, and maybe up the protein on your feed ration.
     
  4. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    The other backyard buddies have given you all good advise. My only observation on the subject is sometimes egg eating can get out of control and roll out egg boxes maybe the only solution.

    As far as egg production goes most hens are fairly well spent and have there best production behind them after two years of age and all hens go through peaks and valleys when it comes to egg laying.

    Not all hens are good egg producers their are winners and loosers when it comes to hens in any flock even though they share the same genetic makeup.

    When it comes to membrane eggs that you have described some times there is just no cure even after you do everything right. I think it is just poor genetics again.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do with a poor hen is introduce it to dumplings.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2015
  5. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ohio
    I forgot to comment on the slacker egg layers.....
    [​IMG]
    Not sure where you are located, but here in Ohio, I have over 100 chickens. Some are young, some are too old. Anyway, it's fall. They are all molting (Losing old feathers, getting new). It takes a lot of energy to grow the new feathers.
    It also is getting darker earlier here. Chickens need 12 hours of daylight to make an egg. You can use supplement lighting, I have one small light out there, but they are molting now, so, I'm letting them do their thing. Yesterday we got 10 eggs.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome Jerry, glad you joined us. On some questions it helps us to know roughly where you are located. On this one, whether you are north or south of the equator would help. I’m going to guess north, partly because you spell Jerry with a “J”, the American way. Brits and others tend to use “G”. Just a bit of trivia.

    When the days get shorter chickens normally molt. Their feathers get worn out and they need to replace them. When they molt they pretty much stop laying eggs and use the nutrition that was going into the eggs to make feathers. This time of year in the northern hemisphere the molt is why egg production drops or even totally stops. It’s not that unusual for a pullet to skip her molt her first winter but her body is about worn out and she needs to recharge by her second fall/winter.

    There is nothing magical about the length of day, the main controlling factor is whether the days are getting longer or shorter. I’ve had plenty of hens laying eggs in December when my days are less than 10 hours long. Some hens, especially production breeds like RIR’s, might start laying as soon as they are over the effects of the molt. Not all of them do that but a lot do, it’s pretty much dependent on the individual hen. Some hens, especially decorative breeds, tend to wait until the days have gotten longer up in spring before they start back. That’s still dependent on the individual hen though. Sometimes they surprise you.

    Then you have fast molters and slow molters. Some hens can finish the molt in a bit over one month, some might take five months. Again production breeds tend to be faster than decorative breeds but it varies by the individual hen. How fast the feathers grow back is not the main factor, it’s how fast the feathers fall out. That’s controlled by genetics. Feeding a higher protein feed can help, not so much that the feathers come back faster though it does help a bit, but after the molt the hen has to rebuild her body reserves before she starts to lay again. That’s the big benefit of the higher protein feed.

    Some hens look really ragged when they are molting, feathers fall out in clumps. That’s a fast molter. With a really slow molter you can’t tell looking at the chicken that she is molting but you’ll probably see more feathers flying around. If you are north of the equator it’s almost certain that they are molting.

    When the molt is over and they start laying again, expect a pretty decent jump in the size of the eggs they lay. After this first adult molt expect them to still lay pretty well, but after their next adult molt production normally drops somewhere around 15% to 20%. Each molt after that it continues to drop.

    I’ve only had one egg eater in all the years I’ve kept chickens. An egg eater is one that will open an egg to eat it. It’s not unusual for a chicken to eat an egg that is already open, that’s not an egg eater. Since yours is opening them, she is. When I found out which hen it was I permanently removed her from my flock. You can also build a roll-away nest, so when the hen lays an egg it rolls to a place she can’t get to it. These are the only two ways I know that work for certain. I’ve seen people post other methods, like the ceramic eggs or filling an egg with mustard or something vile so the hen doesn’t like the taste. Some people say these work for them, some say it doesn’t. I suspect there might be some tricks involved, like removing the other eggs as they are laid so the hen has only these to try to eat. I haven’t tried them though so I don’t know how effective these methods really are.

    A hen’s internal egg-making factory is pretty complicated. Occasionally you can get a glitch. An occasional but fairly rare soft shelled egg is not a big cause for concern. We all have bad days. Different things can cause it. Stress is one. Too much protein is another. There are other potential causes. If a hen is eating too much protein it can cause her to release a second yolk before she should. If two are released at the same time then you might get a double yolked egg. If there is a bit of time separation in yolk release, the hen may lay two separate eggs in one day but often there is not enough shell material for the second egg. If you are consistently getting double yolked eggs or two eggs in one day you might want to cut back on the protein a bit. Feeding a 16% protein feed is fairly normal, but 18% isn’t bad at all, especially for larger birds like RIR’s. 20% protein is probably OK, especially if they are foraging much or if you are feeding some treats. It’s not an exact science because each hen is different and we all feed them differently. I personally don’t want to go over 20% protein.

    If a hen is consistently laying a soft-shelled egg then it is a concern. If it is all or practically all the hens in your flock then you have a flock problem and you need to treat the entire flock. If it is just one hen then you have an individual chicken problem, why would you treat the other birds that are not having a problem? The way you wrote that I assume it is one hen. Has she always laid soft shelled or thin shelled eggs or is this something new?

    Sometimes a hen’s body just doesn’t process the calcium they eat properly. There is just something wrong with her, possibly genetic. Her shell gland may not be working right. If you are offering a calcium supplement like oyster shell on the side, maybe her instincts to eat the extra calcium just aren’t there. Check for parasites, mites or lice as well as worms. These can lead to stress and some individuals can handle it better than others.

    It is possible, not absolutely certain but possible, that an egg with a very thin shell or shell-less will break in the nest where other hens will eat it. That’s not unusual, as I said earlier those are not egg eaters. But it can occasionally teach a hen to open an egg to eat it. That may be what happened to yours.

    People look for simple causes and simple solutions. Sometimes you can find those when you are lucky. Sometimes it can be a lot more complicated and hard to resolve. I wish you luck on this one.
     
  7. jenyfromthecoop

    jenyfromthecoop New Egg

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    Feb 26, 2014
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    Thanks everyone for all your wonderful advise! I must say that having laying hens can be a blessing and a curse. I have enjoyed
    every moment of raising them (despite the fact that I have a few girls that are not living up to my expectations of what laying hens
    are suppose to do.... lay eggs LOL!

    Hopefully I can correct the problems I have with my egg production but either way it has been a wonderful journey and very
    therapeutic. One other question I wanted to ask you.... I am soooo attached to my girls, is it normal to keep them as pets
    forever even after they stop producing?

    I just can't imagine sending them off to the chopping block. Is this crazy of me to think this way? How many people actually keep
    their chicken after their egg production has dwindled?


    jenny from the coop


    P.S. I do feed 5 ounces or so a day of freeze dried meal worms, could this be too much protein for them for seven hens? I
    read somewhere that during the warmer months it was a good idea to cut back on some of their protein.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I have no feel for how much 5 ounces of freeze dried meal worms are. I don’t feed them. There is a general rule of thumb that if they can clean the treat up in ten to fifteen minutes you are not feeding too much. Also, it will depend on what else they eat. If they forage much you have little control over their diet anyway.

    Some people keep their chickens as pets until they die of old age. Some of us continually recycle pullets to keep production up. It’s pure personal preference. If that is what you want to do, there is nothing wrong with either way.
     
  9. jenyfromthecoop

    jenyfromthecoop New Egg

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    Feb 26, 2014
    Woodbury, C.t.
    Thank you Outpost for the warm welcome!


    I will try my luck on some fake eggs and see if that does the trick. Right now I am feeding layer pellets mixed with oyster shells along with garden scraps from our vegtable
    beds and 5 ounces of dried meal worms. Do you think it is important for me to feed them scratch as well? They have a lot of access to a large pen outside to roam and forage.


    jenny from the coop
     
  10. jenyfromthecoop

    jenyfromthecoop New Egg

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    Feb 26, 2014
    Woodbury, C.t.
    OMG Outpost!

    I love the picture you posted! Very funny!

    My husband has named all seven of our chickens, they go something like this...... Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Piccata, He even moved our Weber
    gas grill a bit closer to our coop! LOL!!!
     

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