Most eggs just fine, but what about the two without shells?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Amiga, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Greetings, everyone [​IMG]

    I think things are going pretty well, but decided to ask for feedback about what I suspect is par for the course with a flock just beginning to lay.

    They are eighteen weeks old, one has been laying for two weeks, another couple have gotten on board during that time, too. They lay somewhere around 5 in the morning, or so.

    But once last week, and again today, someone (they do this when I am not looking) lays a shell-less egg in the late afternoon, just wherever she happens to be. Don't know if it's the same duck.

    My current thoughts are, it's a sign of someone getting ready to lay but not quite there yet, and possibly with all the mounting going on, perhaps an egg gets pushed out before it gets its shell.

    Here are bits of information that may be helpful:

    They get free choice oyster shell, available at all times except overnight (same as their food - water is available 24/7).
    They have grower/maintenance pellets plus a handful of cat kibble per six cups pellets (approximate).
    All females in the flock.
    Treats include salad (lettuce, dandelion, jewelweed, comfrey), peas (once every day or two - a few cups for all eleven), slugs as available
    They are in a duck yard most of the time right now, so they get whatever crawls or flies in, and whatever I toss in.
    Temperatures five days ago were in the forties at night, seventies daytime, yesterday mid90s, today about 97 F. It may have been a warm (85F) day the first time an egg without a shell came out).
    They are runners, weighing just barely 3 pounds or so each, some variety in size although all are the same age.
  2. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    Completely normal in most circumstances Amiga- especially in ducks who fisrt lay at the younger end of the scale. I find that it takes about a mointh for some ducks to start laying regular good eggs - IE: good size- not too small not too big - no shell deformities and pretty much an egg a day. If you were to get eggs with no shells from a duck who had been laying for a few months on a regular basis it may be a sign of a problem- but you expect some very odd things in the first few weeks of laying from any young duck.
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Thanks, duckyfromoz.

    We have been blessed with the eggs laid so far. Of the fifteen or so, only one was "pullet size," with no yolk. One other had an odd tiny gray blob in the albumin.

    The very first was perfect, and most of the rest have been as well.

    I now crack the eggs into a glass cup before cooking or adding them to batter, just to check for odd bits as they get going.

    I am thinking it will be late next month before most are laying. So, looks like early fall this side of the equator will be when things smooth out. Then we get to find out what short days does to their laying. Always something to learn!

    Again, thanks!
  4. AdamD77

    AdamD77 Songster

    Jul 1, 2010
    Bedfordshire, England
    Must be a strange sight to see a random egg just plopped out [​IMG] Did it look all mashed up, as I'm guessing without a shell to cover it when it came out that there wouldn't be a perfect yolk?

    A more general question, when did you start offering oyster shell to them? Mine are about 9 weeks old now so not at a laying age yet but slowly getting there (I just hope I get to see an egg before I go off to Uni in September!) and I wasn't sure whether oyster shell was good for them after reading another post on another topic...?
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England

    Duck nutrition is much science and some art, I feel. Few do it exactly the same. So I can offer what I have done, based on my research and my gut instincts.

    Okay. Shell-less eggs. Look more intact than one might think, as both the albumin (white) and yolk are thick. I noticed that, baking with them yesterday, that it takes much more effort to stir up and egg into a homogenous mix before adding it to dry cornbread ingredients than it takes to do so with a chicken egg. So the first egg, which I saw just after it popped out, lay on the ground otherwise intact, with the membrane, which had burst, next to it. This was seconds before the ducks began eating it all.

    Today, I noticed a duck munching on what looked like paper. I could not figure out how she had gotten a label or a wrapper or piece of white paper in the duck yard. When I got it from her, I saw it was an egg membrane. I sniffed the water pan they swim in - mmmm, fresh, raw egg. They had already eaten most of it. Since raw egg in tepid water is a recipe for rapid bacterial growth, I dumped the pan and refilled it. It was near 100F today. Shew. That would have been ripe!

    Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks writes something along the lines of, begin extra calcium in the rations about a month before they lay. Hmmmm. How was I supposed to know when they will start laying????? This is where my gut instinct came in handy. When everyone was beginning to display mating behavior, I began to set out less than a cup of crushed oyster shell free choice, once a week. They ate some, but did not finish it. So I reckoned they did not need it very badly, but that once a week would begin to elevate their calcium levels slowly (oyster shell in the crop is like a slow-release calcium pill).

    Once the first egg was laid - with a very nice shell - oyster shell became free choice whenever their feed was available (which is from the time I let them out in the morning, around 6, to bedtime, around 10 p.m.)

    Annarie uses a 50/50 grower/layer feed mix, and I have considered trying that. They do well with the grower/maintenance ration I am giving them, so I would like to be consistent with that, using it as the base for their nutrition, adding supplements depending on conditions. This week we are having some stinking, hot days, so I am concerned about heat stress, but I think their feed is going to work for them, even in this heat. We were blessed with an abundance of lettuce this week, so we are having bigger salads every day until that is used up.

    I hope something in this helped you! [​IMG]

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