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Membrane only egg, why?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Zenbirder, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Zenbirder

    Zenbirder Songster

    May 3, 2007
    New Mexico
    One of my BR hens has been guilty of laying membrane only eggs. I find them under the roost, laid at night with no shell. Today she managed to lay one in a nest, intact with only a membrane. She is almost three years old, and developed this problem this winter. None of the other 16 hens have a problem, but their shells are not as strong as last summer. This BR's feathers are not the greatest, showing a lot of wear and tear, she has not done a good molt like about half her flock. Any ideas on why?

    ***Please, no one suggest culling, she is a family PET, like a three legged dog or a blind cat.***


  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    My favorite white leghorn has given me two of these in this past week. That's it.

    She had gotten sick, got better, nothing for two weeks and then the two membrane eggs. I cooked one of them up. The other broke in the nest and I caught other hens devouring it.

    She used to give me 5 or 6 eggs a week. Now zilch. And she is so tiny, there wouldn't be enough meat on her to make much stew. I'm gonna give her another month to get back to work.
  3. cimarron

    cimarron Songster

    Oct 25, 2008
    Central Tejas
    our chicken laid one of these about a week after she started laying. it was a fluke, she hasn't laid another like it. my dog was happy to help get rid of the freaky thing.
  4. Zenbirder

    Zenbirder Songster

    May 3, 2007
    New Mexico
    I have no problems eating eggs like this, they just look so....wierd!
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Are they getting calcium like oyster shells?
  6. Kim_NC

    Kim_NC Songster

    Jan 27, 2009
    Mt Airy, NC
    She may improve. Make sure there is plenty of oyster shell available. It really sounds like they're not getting enough calcium, especially since the other hens' shells are not as strong as they used to be.

    For the 'poor molt' and feather condition, she needs a boost. Actually, these things would be good for all of them, so you can just treat the whole group if it's easier.:

    - Higher protein. It takes protein to make both feathers and eggs. A hen regrowing feathers and laying at the same time has to stretch the protein between them. Provide something like game bird crumbles in the 23-28% protein level.

    - Do you feed treats? If so, use catfood as a treat for 7-10 days. It's also high in protein and most chickens really like it. A cheap brand will do just fine. Check the label, get 31% protein or higher if you can find it.

    - Cut out scratch (if you're using it) until her feather condition improves. Scratch lowers their total protein - it's only 8-10%, depending on the blend.

    - Add vitamins/electrolytes to the drinking water for a few days

    Anytime we have hens in a molt, I use this treatmment to bring them through it quickly. Generally, I have them back to laying with a full coat of new feathers within 3 weeks. (I cull the others, but mine aren't pets.)
  7. Zenbirder

    Zenbirder Songster

    May 3, 2007
    New Mexico
    Thanks for the ideas. I do offer oyster shell, and also cooked/crumbled egg shell which they prefer over the oyster. The hens get treats of BOSS regularly, and cat food when one is in a hard molt. I have a few hens, like this one, who just have not molted, and have a lot of damaged or missing feathers. Several did a hard molt this winter and are beautiful now.

    I have been letting them free range more lately (outside of their large fenced pasture/yard ), now that some grass is starting to grow and a few insects are showing up. This should fix the shell hardness, it always seemed that the more insects they ate the better the shells. Last summer we couldn't hardly crack the eggs!

    I just don't understand the biology of an egg that has a membrane, but no shell at all. Thin shelled eggs I can understand as lack of calcium. No shell at all seems like something else is going on. The Chicken Health Handbook says a lack of Vitamin D can cause no shell, but chickens make Vitamin D from sunlight like we do. These girls are out in the full sun almost every day. I wonder if this hen has a glitch in her Vitamin D production metabolism? The book suggests cod liver oil as a supplement. I wonder if I give some to the whole flock if that would make the eggs fishy tasting?

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