Bertha is not laying eggs with shells yet. Since she adopted us, maybe 3 months ago, we have only seen about 6 eggs, not fully formed. We have introduced a lot of grit into her diet, though she is reluctant to eat it. If we go near her box, she flies out and is distressed, yet when she is out she prefers to sit near our feet. We are very new at this and just want to know if Bertha is OK or we need to take her to the Vet. Ultimately I care about Bertha's health. Her eggs are a bonus if that happens
Grit aids in digesting food, it's oystershell she needs for extra calcium and layer feed of course. If she's laying even sporadically she needs the extra calcium and nutrients.
Is she your only chicken? I'm wondering if she's hiding in the nest box because she's scared or lonely. My MIL lost nearly her entire flock a few years ago, all but one little bantam hen. That hen stayed in the coop for weeks and refused to come out, until I adopted her and got her some friends. She went from being this timid, scared little thing to lording (ladying?) it over her flock. If your hen is the only chicken you have, getting her a friend or two may help.
Have a look around the articles in our Learning Center. There's a ton of info on most of the aspects or chicken keeping, behaviour etc.
Thank you very much for reply. Bertha is our only chook....I'm reluctant to get another chook until I know what I'm doing and how to care for them properly. I did do the oyster shells, and by the way even the egg shells etched the edges out of my NutriBlaster contraption! Bertha has been out of her box today, for about 5 hours, which is the longest period (that she's been up) for 6 days. We had a sweltering hot day in Sydney today. She seems better, is hanging and pooing (ugh) around our feet again. It's a postive sign?
I would definitely recommend you get her a friend or two. Like us, chickens are social creatures and are generally much happier with company of their own kind. Even if you just get one more chicken, it will be so nice for her.
Are you feeding her layer pellets? That should meet her calcium requirements, but the soft shelled eggs can be caused by other things as well. What may also help is adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar to her drink water. I mix a ratio of 3 tablespoons to a gallon water. It's so good for them.