Chronic weak egg problem (thin shells, or no shells). How to fix??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by elabell, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. elabell

    elabell Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a sweetheart of a hen, Poppy, who recently has fallen into laying dangerously poor quality eggs. Her very first egg (back in August 2009??) was perfect. Then for months she was a very consistent layer. However, eventually her eggs started looking deformed. We called them 'dinosaur eggs' because they were oval shape and had many ridges. I noticed also that the thickness of the shell was decreasing, as well. It's gotten so bad now that the eggs break almost instantly because the shell is so thin, or there is no shell at all (a 'soft egg').

    I know calcium is an important part. But all my hens are provided with oyster shell 24 hrs a day. And none of my other hens (I have 7 all together) have this problem. So either it is a calcium deficiency because she choses not to eat the oyster shell or there is some other problem. The strange thing is that, like I said, she used to lay normal eggs. I would have thought if this was a genetic defect it would have been a problem from the start.

    Some extra details that may help:
    She is a naked-neck (turken), Hatched April 8, 2009. I did not hatch her myself, rather bought her from a feed store, along with 4 other chicks (2 welsummers, 1 RIR, 1 sicilian buttercup). She started laying in August 2009 which to me seemed REALLY early--only 4 months old--and she was the first of the group to start. But I was feeding them chick/starter feed and I wasn't trying to induce early laying. At the onset of laying, I started feeding layer crumble. Then added oyster shell shortly thereafter. Her current diet consist of layer crumble (available throughout the day) and scratch (cracked corn, etc.) tossed out in the morning. I also feed her snacks mid-day or afternoon, usually fruit (apple, pear, banana, ...) or leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach). Like I said, access to oyster shell all day. Fresh water is available in multiple locations throughout the yard. She free ranges and is very content. She is not stressed. (In fact, she's the top of the peaking order.) Her behavior is great, and she is not acting sick. Her poop looks normal.

    I could care less if I get any more eggs from her. She is my baby, not an 'egg machine.' I just want her to be well. Like I said, right now she seems fine, but I could see this turning south at a rapid pace (i.e. if her egg breaks inside!) Does anyone have any suggestions? Or have any ideas as to what is wrong? You input is greatly appreciated! Thanks.
     
    countryladyNH likes this.
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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  3. Malpower

    Malpower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi elabel!

    I've been having a similar problem with my almost 2 year old hen -- she's been laying nearly non-stop for about 14 months or so. Once last year she laid some thin shelled eggs and then she returned to normal. The last month or two she's been having trouble -- her shells got pimply and pale pale tan compared to normal dark brown, and then she started dropping thin shelled and sometimes no shelled eggs from the roost at night. A few weeks ago I added oyster shell flour to the feed, on top of the laying feed with oyster shell that they already get. I also started adding drops of a liquid calcium to their water as recommended by the feed store. And I gave Lucy an "emergency" dose of 2 crushed Tums and yogurt, fed it to her with bits of wheat bread since it made it easier for her to get it and for me to make sure just she got it and not the other very interested girls. Overnight she started having fairly decent eggs again, back to her dark brown shells too. I thought the problem was solved! Yesterday there was a shell-less egg dropped from the roost during the night. Then I found her inside the nesting box later in the day, sitting on another hen's just laid egg, Lucy was nibbling on the shell! Didn't lay one of her own. So I decided to give her another "emergency" dose of Tums and yogurt. No egg today, but awhile ago (it's evening now) I found out on the garden path away from the coop enclosure (and nesting box of course) a large egg with a transparent film around it, like jelly -- I could pick it up! Since the other girls all laid eggs today, I figure this must have come from Lucy! It wasn't there earlier in the day because we were working on the garden in that area most of the day -- hens were hiding back in the wooded area. I don't know what to do next -- I'm only worried that something might be wrong with Lucy. Like you, these are my pets and I really don't care if they lay eggs or not, but I DO want to be sure I'm feeding and caring for them properly and this isn't some health issue or problem. We just had a few very hot days and there was some disturbance around today with workmen in the yard -- so am wondering if this might have had anything to do with the return of these sad eggs -- the other girls of course are laying just fine!

    I feed my hens much the same as you do, they also free range during the day, looks like we have a very comparable situation. AND Lucy is also my "alpha" hen, the smartest and toughest of the bunch, the one I didn't expect to have any problems. Otherwise she seems fine tho some watery poop and occasionally some white foamy which worries me a little after looking at the "poop" site. I keep hoping someone might tell me that this is "normal" -- but I have the feeling that maybe I should try to capture her and take her to the vet.

    Would love to hear if you come up with anything interesting that might help!! Good luck!! I know how worried you are -- just like I am! [​IMG]

    Kerry
     
  4. kayri

    kayri Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am very curious as to what people recommend to do.

    I too, have a pet chicken- don't care if I get any more eggs from her as long as she is well. She is an american game bird, about a year old and has been laying well for the last 7 months. I think all of her troubles started about 3 months ago. She got attacked by a fox and carried off. I chased the fox (and her) across three backyards screaming at the top of my lungs, she was screaming too and the fox finally dropped her. I put her on antibiotics for a few days, she seemed OK, laid about 6 or 7 normal eggs after that, and then stopped laying. I thought she was going broody, but then she stood around with her tail drooping and had no energy, wouldn't leave the run, laid a couple of shell-less eggs and then stopped laying altogether. I thought I was going to lose her, I gave her vitamin drops and hand fed her for about a week, but that didn't do any good. She had terrible diarrehea. I finally treated her with drop-on ivermectin and she responded almost immediately. That was about 2 weeks ago. She has been perky and cheerful ever since, but hasn't laid an egg, although she has been squatting very nicely for me. Today she laid a shell-less egg and I don't know what to do about her. I too would be grateful for any information about what to do about shell-less egg laying.

    Of course she has access to oyster shell, layer pellets, oatmeal and yogurt in the morning and they generally free-range inside their large electric fence.

    Gritsar thanks for the lead on the book, but it recommends culling chickens that lay eggs like that, and that would be a last resort for me and only if her quality of life is poor. Maybe vitamin deficiency?
     
  5. peaceful

    peaceful Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For what it' s worth, I found this on the internet. Interesting about the vaccine...


    Egg Drop Syndrome
    Synonyms: egg drop, egg drop syndrome 76, EDS-76

    Species affected: The natural hosts for EDS virus are ducks and geese, but EDS has become a major cause of reduced egg production in chickens in many parts of the world. No illness has been observed in ducks or geese. Chickens of all ages and breeds are susceptible. The disease is most severe in broiler-breeders and brown-egg layer strains.

    Clinical signs: There are no reliable signs other than the effects on egg production and egg quality. Healthy-appearing hens start laying thin-shelled and shell-less eggs. Once established, the condition results in a failure to achieve egg production targets. Transient diarrhea and dullness occur prior to egg shell changes. Fertility and hatchability are not affected (see Table 2 ).

    Transmission: It is believed that the syndrome was first introduced into chickens from contaminated vaccine. Vertical transmission occurs from infected breeders to chicks. Newly hatched chicks excrete the virus in the feces.


    Treatment: There is no successful treatment. Induced molting will restore egg production.

    Prevention: Prevention involves a good biosecurity program.
     
  6. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

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    Wow. This sounds exactly like Gwen, our BSL alpha hen who started laying shell-less eggs after breaking a toe and dealing with a subsequent infection about 2 months ago.

    Thanks - great post!
     
  7. Malpower

    Malpower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh gosh, that sounds similar to my hen's problem -- sort of made my heart sink! How does one "induce molting" -- this hen, a New Hampshire Red, never did molt along with the other hens end of last year -- never molted, never stopped laying eggs. The others all molted and stopped laying eggs for a few months. I'll have to go read more about egg drop syndrome. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!
     
  8. elabell

    elabell Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2010
    San Diego
    I am surprised to see that others have experienced a similar problem. Thanks for brining the 'Egg Drop' information to my attention. That sounds exactly like what's going on, at least in my case. At least it doesn't sound fatal as it is, nor does it sound like it is contagious (while it can be passed on to chicks, but that is not an issue in my case, no mature roosters in my yard, yet). The biggest risk I think would be eggbinding or having an internal egg, leading to infection. To be safe, I have given my hen a mild dose of antibiotics, specifically because the other day I noticed a piece of eggshell on her fluff feathers near the vent, and I was worried the weak eggshell broke on it's way out, rather than just breaking once out. I gave her tetracycline hydrochloride, the farm/livestock standard antibiotic. Rather than adding it to the drinking water (since the water is shared by everyone: the chickens, the dogs, and the little songbirds), I mixed up a small batch and then dipped her afternoon snack (part of a banana) in the solution.

    I am going to look into ways to induce molting. She, too, has not molted to my knowledge. Maybe that's all it will take to fix the problem. I think it will have to be a judgment call, as in what is more dangerous: continuous laying of weak-shelled eggs or the added stress from induced molting?
     
  9. Rocky Top Chick

    Rocky Top Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have the exact problem, however, I don't know who is laying the egg.
     
  10. Malpower

    Malpower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a call into a local vet who actually works with chickens (not just dogs and cats) and will make a house call if necessary. I'm in a suburban area, not rural, and there are few, if any people around this area with chickens or farm animals in their backyards (the next county over is farming territory). I'm waiting to hear from him, even if it's just a phone consultation, and I'll pass along what he says. I'm also waiting around to see what Lucy will do today -- at least she didn't drop another shell-less egg from the roost last night!
     

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