High-strung pullet and soft-shelled eggs: A Theory


11 Years
Jun 20, 2008
Fallbrook, CA
Bridget, my 9-month old Delaware has been laying for a bit over 2 months. Once the days got a bit longer, she was laying everyday like a trooper. The only issue was that her shells weren't as thick/hard as they could be.

- 2 weeks ago she laid two abnormal eggs overnight (1 shell-less and 1 rubber) AND she was acting ill.
- took her to the vet who prescribed Baytril just in case there was an infection. Blood test showed normal everything, good
calcium levels, etc. Nothing abnormal except her abdomen was a bit enlarged and felt doughy and she was slightly underweight.
- aside from one rubber egg 2 days later while recupering in my bathroom, she has laid normally for the last 2 weeks.
- she perked up pretty quickly, acting normally by the next day.

- Yesterday morning, there was a cracked thin-shelled egg under her roost that she apparently laid overnight. She also acted like she was going to lay at her normal time by spending at least an hour in the nest, but she didn't lay an additional egg.

- Today she laid a very soft-shelled egg that, from what I can tell, broke as she was laying and got a bit stuck since I saw a trail of egg from the nest to run, then discovered the broken egg in the run.

She's acting perfectly normal, aside from that first incident. I have a theory and I realize I might be grasping because I just don't want Bridget to have a serious problem, like internal laying or something like that. The enlarged abdomen does worry me but my husband has palpated her regularly and it does not seem to be getting bigger. And it could be my imagination, but I seem to recall that her abdomen seemed rather large even before she ever started laying. Maybe she's just fatty there?

Anyway, so Bridget is very high-strung. She cries LOUDLY in the coop every morning before I let her out. Right now, sunrise is around 6:30 and I let her out at 7:30. She cries off and on for the whole hour. She also cries when her sole flock-mate Yolanda is in the nest laying. I've read on the boards that thin-shelled/rubber eggs can be caused by the egg not spending enough time in the shell department. Could her crying (which she seems to use her whole body for) be pushing her egg along the reproductive tract too quickly thus causing the thin-shelled eggs? Has anyone experienced anything like this?

Like I said, I think I may be grasping. And it also may be that she's a relatively new layer and is still working out the kinks. But I'm a worry-wart and I dwell on this. I just want an answer, you know? Though I know I won't ever get a definitive answer.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Sorry it's so long
I do not think her singing is pushing the egg along.

Do you give the girls oyster shells? If not, you will want to start - just offer them in a dish by themselves. The girls will pick thru and eat what they need.

The body of a hen/pullet uses a LOT of calcium to form an egg shell - each bird is different in the amount they need.
since she is new to it, my guess is she is still working on the process- i have a few pullets that still miss the nest, or lay in the middle of the nite- we have found their eggs in the strangest places- once on a 2 x 4 board! so i would say give they the free-serve oyster shell and keep an eye on her
Thanks for your responses, Horsefeatherz and artsyrobin. They do get free-choice oyster shell and also yogurt a few times a week.

I still think there might be something to Bridget's crying or possibly just her anxiety. Since our run is secure, and the night-time temps haven't been too low, I decided to leave the coop door open for the past 2 nights, so they could exit as soon as the sun came up. Yesterday morning, there was no crying at all. This morning, there was a tiny bit of crying. Bridget laid 2 perfect eggs both days. And I noticed that she's been heading to the nest a little bit later each day.

While it's true that she may just be working out the kinks, I will continue to leave the coop door open, weather permitting, and see what comes of it.
honestly- i'd be afraid to leave the coop door open- how is your run and coop attached- i am so paranoid of something getting to mine! i have see one of my first ducklings ravaged in what i 'thought' was a secure enclosure- not trying to be critical at all..
Hi Robin,

Thanks for the concern - don't worry, I'm not taking it as being critical
From what you experienced with your little duckling and with all the horror stories I've read on this bored, I know the threat of predators is very real. Though I live in an urban-ish environment, I HAVE seen the occasional raccoon, skunk and opossum. My coop is within the run, which is a sturdy wood frame, wrapped entirely with 1/2" hardware cloth that has been fastened with screws and washers at 6" intervals. The cloth is buried 12" and bent outwards. The door is padlocked and is opened with a key. I'm pretty sure this is secure. Can I ask what your setup was when you lost your duckling (which I'm very sorry for, by the way. It must have been devastating)?
wish i had your coop and run!! well, we had a little run inside the big run that has the chickens- the chickens were locked up in the coop, i didn't think about that fact a stupid racoon would climb into the run, by chewing threw a bad spot in the fence and drag her through the other fencing- angel, the survivor was hiding under the coop- just made me sick- and i have lost all sympathy for predators- i know they have to eat- but go after wild critters not my flock...sigh- we live on ten acres- and have seen among other predators foxes and bobcats- so its always a risk-
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