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Duck Laying Yolks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by ethelandfred, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. ethelandfred

    ethelandfred Chirping

    Apr 2, 2015
    I have a female duck who for the last few weeks has been laying soft shelled eggs. She is about three this year, and this is my second year dealing with soft eggs. The first few months of the laying season she lays hard shell and then it changes midseason.

    Yesterday she laid an actual yolk and then the soft shell AFTER.

    I have tried oyster shell, in both food and free range and she does eat it but it doesn't seem to do much, tried kale to the same effect. I've mentioned before I'm not concerned about egg production, she is a pet but I'm concerned about infections.

    I did find this thread and was curious if it could be an infection causing this? She laid soft shells the end of last season as well but started this season out well.


    I live nowhere near a vet so unfortunately that isn't an option. Is there a medication I could get online or at a farm store like Tractor Supply.

    Could my drake be to blame?

    I'm up for any suggestions I'm at a loss!

    She is perky, eating well and pruning as she should be. I'm only asking because I'm concerned it could become a problem.


    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016

  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    If she lays hard shelled eggs at the beginning of the season, it really sounds as if she has depleted calcium from her system. Are you providing a layer ration that contains supplemental calcium?
  3. purslanegarden

    purslanegarden Chirping

    Aug 10, 2016
    Although you mentioned adding the calcium supplements, but the question arises about is she getting enough of that, as well as what kind of food does she eat otherwise?

    In short, although these supplements are offered, is she getting enough for her egg-laying needs?
  4. ethelandfred

    ethelandfred Chirping

    Apr 2, 2015
    She does get pellets daily, but I didn't realize they were lacking calcium.

    I picked up some calcium added pellets at Tractor Supply so hopefully this helps.

    They also get a bit of scratch grain daily and corn as treats occasionally on top of what they forage outside.

    Thanks for the suggestions, I will keep an eye out and see if this helps!

  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    Maybe @Amiga can offer some suggestions too since she has had problems like this..
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England


    I have some guesses about soft shelled eggs based on some reading and observations with my flock over the past 6 plus years. I'd like to start by sharing what I would do in your case.

    I would buy a bottle of calcium citrate tablets - a pretty good sized bottle, since they keep, and sometimes you can get a discount when you buy more. I keep a bottle or two on hand at all times. I would crush about 200 mg worth of tablets (I get 250s so I'd crush one of those) and sprinkle it on a favorite treat, and give that to her on day one, then I'd drop it back to 100 mg daily for a week, see how it goes. Within a couple of days the shells should be more normal. Then I would decide whether to cut down to 50 mg a day, or 50 mg twice daily for another month or so.

    I have read that fluctuating the amount of calcium they get daily helps keep their calcium regulating systems working properly. I have also read that it's not just the calcium but the Vitamin D and other goodies that affect how well they can do with the calcium (not necessarily a shortage of calcium but of some other factor). I know calcium is needed not only for egg shells but for bones, the heart, and nervous system.

    Domestic ducks have two strikes against them - they are bred for egg laying (a number of breeds), not necessarily for long-term health. And as a group, not the individual, because they are domestic, they may have genetic traits that otherwise would limit survival and therefore be uncommon among wild flocks, but because we care for them, those genetic traits like not effectively using calcium well will be showing up in the flocks.

    It's really not that bad, in my opinion, if we have duck lovers who are educated and are paying attention. It's not that difficult to provide the extra calcium, it's just not that hard. We simply have to know it's needed and provide it.

    Layer pellets help, and I think I have begun to notice a pattern of more soft shells when they receive more processed feed. Not entirely sure, yet, I may need to get a little more controlled about this, so don't go tossing out your pellets. In fact, it may be that I coincidentally feed certain things later in the summer and that may just coincide with calcium shortages after they have been laying a while. But I'm sharing this as a thing that may be related. Just maybe.

    Another maybe is that the less processed feed gets soaked in water, and that might make nutrients more bioavailable. Always more to learn.

    So. Layer feed's a good start, free choice oyster shell on the side, and calcium citrate as needed. There is also 23% calcium gluconate liquid, I have used that with good results, and it is more expensive than the calcium citrate tablets. There is a prescription supplement, neocalglucon. I mention that as part of the whole picture for available supplements.

    Infections can occur with soft eggs - and - I know someone who's had many ducks, many soft eggs, very few cases of egg yolk peritonitis or other infections, so I am not convinced that soft eggs in and of themselves are scary. But there is such a thing as e.y.p., so having antibiotics on hand may be a good idea - I am not an expert in that area. I can tell you that when Sechs recently had egg binding, and it looked like she had the beginnings of an infection based on some vent discharge, we put her on Bactrim (a sulfa drug) as well as Metacam (anti-inflammatory), and she's a-okay now.

    Turmeric is a safe natural anti-inflammatory, and I am also not an herbalist so I don't know the optimum dosage for that. I know it stains skin and clothes, but when it comes to duck health, I will happily wear yellow stains if I can help the ducks.

    I digress, but I wanted to fully respond to this thread.
    1 person likes this.
  7. DuckNoobie

    DuckNoobie Chirping

    Jan 7, 2015
    I too had the same problem last year....see my thread below
    I tried lots of stuff but nothing fixed the problem immediately...I had to wait it out until she stopped laying eggs for the season. The good news is there was no infection, my duck is perfectly fine. The second season she laid great eggs, however there was a few soft ones in the end again, but nothing to worry about in my case.

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