Difficulty during egg laying — calcium deficiency?

poonam

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 9, 2011
94
2
41
Oakland, CA
hey everybody. I need some help with my chicken.

The bird

  • 2 year old golden sebright
  • female
  • heavy egg layer (for a sebright)
  • free ranges 3/4 time, lives with 3 other hens in an organic garden.
  • Modesto milling crumble layer organic feed.
  • i have not been consistent with adding/providing oyster shell as a supplement

symptoms
  • the following has been going on for 2 weeks
  • difficulty during egg laying - straining, looking very tired and dazed, breathing hard, unwell, walking like a penguin just before laying
  • laying eggs in random places out in the open — like she can't control where her egg comes. She is not trying to hide her eggs, she literally is laying them wherever they come, i've seen it happen.
  • She had laid a soft shelled egg a couple of weeks ago, followed by chalky, brittle egg shells.She laid one good egg in the past 2 weeks in her nest.
  • Keeps going back to the nest after she's laid the egg. Seems like her reproductive duct is inflamed and she seems to think she hasn't laid yet.
  • She is NOT BROODY. I know what a broody looks like and this is not it.
  • No other outward symptoms like respiratory stuff or anything external that i can see.

Behavior and other info
  • poo looks totally normal
  • overall healthy, happy and perky, except just around near laying time


I am starting with the assumption that it's a calcium deficiency, and for the past 5 days have upped her calcium intake a lot. I can't quite tell yet if that is helping, but she does seem more perky and happy in the past few days.

The eggs have not changed much yet, but i haven't had any other no-shelled eggs.

Does this sound like an issue with long-term calcium deficiency? she's a small bird and has laid a lot, so i wouldn't be surprised. If it were a Ca deficiency, how long might it be before I should be seeing signs of her difficulty with the egg laying getting better?

I really don't think it's an infection. i'm thinking either serious ca deficiency, or a physical issue in her reproductive tract like a tumor. Any ideas folks?

Poonam
 

TwoCrows

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It may not be as simple as a calcium deficiency. I have a hen with similar issues....laying soft shelled eggs, ones without the shell entirely or funky shaped HUGE looking eggs, going back to the nest box as you have described, etc... I finally turned to my poultry vet and he says that genetics can play a big part as to why they lay eggs like this, however many times it is an imbalance of the magnesium and phosporus in the diet. Also a lack of Vit's A, D, and E, or the hens inability to break these down and use them in her body. So he gave me some potent vitamins along with some liquid calcium to add to the water.

She has improved somewhat. At least she puts a shell on and rarely lays just a yolk. However her eggs are still funky shaped and thin on the pointy end.

Another thing it can be is an illness your hen might be carrying. Either bacterial or viral. Not necessarily something with symptoms. A defective shell gland can also be an issue.

I don't think my hen will ever lay in the perfect way, but at least the eggs are easier to pass and have the shell in place. If I were you, I would try adding some good poultry vitamins to the water or feed and see if that does not help. Good luck!
 
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poonam

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 9, 2011
94
2
41
Oakland, CA
Thanks. Have you ever seen the straining issues with a calcium deficiency? do you have any sense of how long before i should seeing a change? Would help me to try and narrow down on the diagnosing.
 

TwoCrows

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The straining would come from the egg being too soft to pass. When the muscles contract to push an egg thru, if the egg is soft, it is not going move quickly. This hen that I have will grunt and groan loudly trying to pass some of her eggs. In no way is she calcium deficient what with the oyster shell liquid calcium and the layer feed. So it is something else that makes them strain.

I saw an improvement within a week after adding vitamins. I still add them every other day or so to keep her laying well.
 
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poonam

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 9, 2011
94
2
41
Oakland, CA
Quote:
Thanks for the response. ok, i'm looking at CA + vitamins, electrolytes, ACV in the water. I'll test it out for a week and see if she's getting better before i conclude otherwise. i'm trying to figure out how long it would take for her to show signs of being better, before i can move on to try and figure out if it's something else (like an infection or a genetic issue).
 

poonam

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 9, 2011
94
2
41
Oakland, CA
Quote:
Thank you twocrowsranch. I was thinking that if the calcium deficiency causes soft shells, and that makes it hard for them to pass without straining, then it makes sense that a calcium deficiency can cause them to strain. Also calcium is an important mineral that helps with muscle contractions and movements, so that makes sense too. but sticking the the plan of more calcium, vitamins, electrolytes, lets see how it goes this week.

So you saw an improvement with the straining issue (not just the egg shells) within a week?
 

TwoCrows

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Thank you twocrowsranch. I was thinking that if the calcium deficiency causes soft shells, and that makes it hard for them to pass without straining, then it makes sense that a calcium deficiency can cause them to strain. Also calcium is an important mineral that helps with muscle contractions and movements, so that makes sense too. but sticking the the plan of more calcium, vitamins, electrolytes, lets see how it goes this week.

So you saw an improvement with the straining issue (not just the egg shells) within a week?
Yes, after one week I did start to see some improvement in the quality of the egg itself. Over the next month, her time spent in the nest box pushing the eggs out was shorter as well.(She would sometimes spend 2 hours laying an egg) Because the shell takes the calcium right from the bird at the time of putting it on, it is more available to the bird at that moment because she is constantly drinking the water. It wasn't like it all had to build up for several months. If it is going to work for your bird, I think you will see it relatively quick like.

If all this stems from a virus, there is probably little you can do other than healthy her up with nutrients so she can heal herself. Some virus's live in the body for ever, as do many bacteria's like Mycoplasma's. And since you can't rid them of these things, they may always have these egg laying issues.

Try the vitamins/minerals, ACV and anything else you can to boost her immune system and hope it helps her out. If you can get her to the point of having a bit easier time of it than she is now, that will help her thru life. Right now, my hen went broody! I don't have a rooster and normally I discourage broodiness in the flock, but for her, I am letting her do her thing. She is getting a long break from laying and hopefully when she comes back into laying, maybe her eggs will be even easier to pass.

Good luck with your hen! If you have any other notes you want to compare, feel free to PM or ask me here. :)
 
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realsis

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Jan 17, 2013
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mine was having the same issue a day ago
she was breathing hard opened mouth straining. squatting it was very disturbing. I think I need to cut back on protein in her diet. I always give vitamins so it can't be that. did you resolve the issue if yes what did you do?
 

TwoCrows

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That is the thing...sometimes you can't resolve it. It depends on why they are having an issue.

Just straining to lay is not necessarily a problem. It is a lot of work to lay an egg, so they are going to strain a bit and breathe heavy to get it out. However it shouldn't take hours to lay it, or having to go back in hours later to finish laying it, or have it come out soft shelled or shell less. But it never hurts to add vitamins to a birds diet. :)
 

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