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How long is "normal" for new layer and soft shells?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by basicliving, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    I have 20 hens that are all just over 32 weeks old. Many have been laying for a couple of months and some are just beginning to lay. I White Faced Black Spanish, Phoenix, Silver Leghorn, and Golden Penciled Hamburg hens.

    I provide layer crumbles 24/7 and leave down oyster shell 24/7. They also get kitchen scraps occasionally and a scoop of black oil sunflower seeds in the AM and PM. They free range during the day. I feed back all egg shells crushed up and they love it.

    Of the 20 hens, one of the Golden Penciled Hamburgs has always layed soft shelled eggs. She started laying about 5 weeks ago (always soft), and then about a week ago, she began laying completely shell-less eggs - only yolk and white. She only lays about every 4 - 5 days now and the last two times they have had no shell at all.

    I've tried separating her and putting her in the living room in a large dog kennel to try to feed her high calcium foods, but she will NOT eat when she is separated. The minute she returns to the flock she eats like crazy. She is obviously near (if not right at) the bottom of the chicken totem pole and I observe her getting chased away from snacks or anything I throw out there for them. But she seems to be a fairly good forager and I have seen her find and eat many bugs, worms, etc. and she can easily access her feed at any time, but doesn't seem very interested in it.

    My question is, typically how long can it take a new layer that lays soft shells to begin laying hard shells? She's the only one that I know of in my flock that has layed soft eggs and it's been going on for over a month. The only reason I really worry is because she tried to lay a soft shell a couple of weeks ago and it broke in her vent and the white "glued" it there. When I discovered it, she was acting very puny so I brought her, soaked her bottom, and then was able to gently tug it out - only to find another one right behind it. She has fully recovered, but I watch her carefully because I worry it will happen again - although right now she is laying no shells at all.

    Should I worry that it's been so long and she's still laying soft shells/no shells? Does anyone have experience with new layers laying soft shells? If so, how long did it take for her to start laying hard shells?

    Thanks,
    Penny
     
  2. tim_TX

    tim_TX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2008
    I'm not sure if you are already doing this, but try using multiple feeders and waterer fonts, with plenty of space between them. This gives the less dominate birds a better chance to eat and drink. A mean hen will often stake out her favorite feeder and run off the less dominate girls when they approach. When this happens, those who can't get to the feed can suffer nutritional deficiencies.
     
  3. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    All I can say is mine did it for a few weeks but only occasionally. In my far from expert opinion if it continues I would think she would have to go and it may be a problem she has internally.
     
  4. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

    938
    3
    151
    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Quote:There doesn't seem to be competition at the feeder - I've seen her there and no one bothers her while eating, she just won't go to it very often and prefers free ranging. They just won't let her at the snacks very easily.

    Quote:That's what I'm worried about. At first I just figured it wasn't unusual for a new layer, but she's been doing this for quite a while now. At first I would find them under her on the roost, but lately she actually gets into a nest box and lays them there. Cleaning out shell-less eggs from the nest boxes is NOT a fun time.

    I keep hoping her body will figure it all out and start laying normal eggs. Of the 20, six of the hens are Golden Penciled Hamburgs, and none of the other have done this.

    I guess I'll just keep watching, waiting, and hoping!

    Thanks,
    Penny
     

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