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Help! Hens Laying Shell-less Eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by keeweekid, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. keeweekid

    keeweekid Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been having one shell-less egg a day for the last 2 months. I thought maybe it was one bird, and one day noticed a hen with a prolapsed vent. She had just laid an egg, and I saw that her egg was not closed and was bloody. Long story short, we could not cure her and therefore had to cull her. I thought perhaps because she was my shell-less laying bird, that I would no longer have this problem. But No! I have continued to receive one shell-less egg a day. Finally, I narrowed it down to one other bird, and of course in the meantime made adjustments to diet. (changed to a feather fixer feed, cut out scraps and scratch, added oyster shell. I had been giving them their own shells back, after nuking them). I can't imagine this problem to be diet or stress. I only have 6 hens and they are free-range. Have access to tons of grass, and used to get all my veggie/fruit kitchen scraps. No meat. After the two weeks or so of this dietary adjustment, I now have 2 hens laying shell-less eggs! It has been 2 days in a row. I only have 3 normal birds left! What am I to think? Do you think it's a disease? They all have bright combs, all their feathers, walk and squack like normal....I am so worried they will go the route of my first hen and develop a prolapsed vent! In addition to all this, I have GL Wynadotte who hasn't laid since Xmas. Don't know what her problem is...
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    A little more information might be needed, such as age of your birds and breeds, and your set up. If it's from their diet it will take longer than two weeks. Soft eggs usually are caused by the egg coming out too early. Some causes are stress, like being frightened or harassed, sometimes excessive panting will cause soft eggs. I don't think a hen will prolapse from soft eggs, it's usually large eggs or fat hens that cause that.

    I would continue as you are doing, trying to cut all feed back to a good formulated ration, either layer or an all flock and keep a dish of oyster shells available always, cut out anything fatty like corn and sunflower seeds. I would expect it to take a month or two to see improvements from a chronic deficiency.

    It's possible that it's just what one particular hen will do and no matter what you do it will continue. I would certainly look into the daily stress level on your hens, watching them throughout the day. And I would look to their leg and skin color to see if they are bleached out which could show a calcium deficiency.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Yes, more info on your coop setup and climate/location would help.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  4. keeweekid

    keeweekid Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks to the replies! I live in Western Colorado (Grand Junction) where the weather is cold in winter, but lovely the rest of the year. I have read that the actual chicken house should be 4 sq ft per bird, and as I only have 6 birds, I think the space is fine. Under 30 degree weather, I do keep a heat lamp on a timer to go on at night and off in the day. They free range on a big piece of yard during the day and there doesn't seem to be any problem with their anxiety. No access to any other animals like dogs who would try to chase. The two posing my no-shell problems are RIRs and the one we had to cull b/c of a prolapsed vent was a Golden Sex Link. I have two others who are GL Wynadottes, with one of them just laying her first egg since before Xmas today! SHe must have heard me talking about her :) All the above 5 are/were only 2 yrs old. I have two EE's just under a year and they are laying just fine.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    I would quit using the light, that can mess them up being on all night. It also could be making them hot, if they pant they can express calcium in the exhale which makes none available for the eggs. Chickens can handle weather much colder than that. I think you will see an improvement after you shut it off.

    Sex link hens are prone to prolapse due to the amount and size of eggs. Sorry you lost that one.
     
  6. keeweekid

    keeweekid Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you! I will cut the light tonight. I just wonder about the heat lamp....it seems to be so widely used in the valley. In the dead of winter we get these cold inversions that can leave us at 7 degrees or so for weeks. Not that it's that temp now. Are you saying even the red light will mess them up? I will try anything. And yes, thanks for your condolences on "Goldie." She was my daughter's (age 6) favorite. She cried for a whole day and even drew a picture of her under the ground with a shovel on top for closure. It was an interesting experience and lesson in mortality.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    How big is your coop(feet x feet)?
    Pics would help.
    Lots of ventilation?
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    It is hard to say if it's the light or the heat, we get down into the -20's during winter and I never provide any heat. I believe chickens can see the red light, it just is suppose to make them not see the color red.

    Chickens are designed to handle the cold, it's the heat that will actually kill chickens, so summer is worse on them. Thankfully here it's moderating in temperatures so hopefully you will be too.

    Sorry your daughter had to learn about death so young but it is something we must learn about. Made me sad though to think of her crying.
     

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