New layer eggbound(?) with soft shelled eggs - please help

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by basicliving, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    I have a 29 week old Golden Penciled Hamburg that is a new layer. I have been finding soft shelled eggs in the coop off and on for the past 3 weeks, but could not identify who was laying them. I thought it wasn't much to worry about as it was likely just a new layer and I understand that happens sometimes when they first start laying.

    For background: I have 20 hens and 2 roosters. They are all the same age (29 weeks) and they free range. I get about 10 eggs a day - and I've found soft shelled eggs probably 6 or 7 times in the past 3 weeks. They are always under a roost, or on the coop floor. Never in a hen box.

    I went to let the chickens out this AM and noticed one little Golden Penciled Hamburg hen stayed on the roost. It is not too terribly unusual that one or two hens will do that if someone is in a nest box they want. They'll wait.

    When I went to check for eggs about an hour ago, she was still on the roost - and she was puffed up and looking a little lethargic. I reached for her and she shifted on the roost so that her rear was facing me and I saw a soft shell egg stuck half in her vent. I picked her up and tugged the shell gently, but it didn't want to come out.

    I brought her in the house and soaked her bottom in warm water and then gently began tugging at the soft, deflated, eggshell. She began working her vent and I timed it with her "pushes". It came out, but then broke off a string looking piece. So I began gently pulling on that, and another deflated soft shell came out.

    ETA: I believe the shells ruptured and the yolk/whites mostly drained out, as the feathers around her vent were very sticky and matted.

    As best I can tell, I got all of it and there were only two. Her stomach does not feel swollen, and I can't feel a lump that would indicate another egg - but since her eggs are soft shelled, I'm not sure there aren't any.

    I put her in a crate in the living room with water and a mixture of cooked deer meat and brown rice, scrambled egg, and some egg shells. I was hoping she'd poop so I would at least know she's not clogged up. But she hasn't yet. She's still acting a bit lethargic and she drank a little water, but hasn't eaten yet. I'll keep her inside until I know she's ok.

    Other than what I have done, does anyone have any suggestions? I just pray she doesn't end up being egg bound. I've read so many incredibly sad stories about egg bound hens and they never end well.

    I appreciate any advice.

    Thanks,
    Penny
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  2. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Hi Penny - so sorry to hear you are having problems with soft shell eggs. I know you said they free range but that has different meanings to different people. Do they have access to extra calcium? I saw you fed her some egg shells - that's good - I save all the egg shells and crush them up and feed them back to my chickens. I also feed black oil sunflower seeds, in the shell, which I think also provides extra calcium and protein. I'm not sure what all could be fed to boost her calcium levels but it sounds like that's what's needed to get those eggs to have a hard shell that can be expelled from her body like they should. I also feed mine shredded cheese, it's one of their favorites, also high in calcium.
     
  3. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    basicliving, sounds like you're already doing a good job taking care of your hen. Remember that it only takes food about 4 hours to pass through a chicken's digestive system, so if she didn't eat this morning until you fed her, it may be a little while until you see any droppings.

    Good luck! Please keep us posted.
     
  4. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Ruth and Jenski - thank you for your replies.

    Jenski - about an hour after I last posted, she did sort of poop. I say sort of because it actually just looked like yolk with a few dots of black. She ate a bit and drank water. Just doesn't seem 100% yet. The rest are heading for the coop, so I went ahead and covered her cage in the living room. Hopefully the rest will do her good. I'm keeping her inside for a few days to see if she lays another soft shell - or if it gets stuck. I'm also going to keep feeding her calcium rich foods.

    Ruth - yes, I always feed them back their eggshells, I have oyster shell in a bowl for them at all times, and I give them black oil sunflower seeds for a snack each day. The cheese is a great idea and I'm going to start feeding her some while I have her inside - and I'll also make her some yogurt.

    ETA: I also feed them layer crumbles, which are available 24 X 7 - but since they started free ranging, they eat very little of it.

    She seems better this afternoon, just not as skiddish and flighty as those little Hamburgs usually are, which tells me she's not 100%. I checked her vent before covering her cage, and it is clean, with no signs of anything stuck there. I really hope I got it all out. I *think* I did. I'll be happy if she actually poops tonight - who thought I'd ever say that?? [​IMG]

    I'll let y'all know how she is in the morning. I'm keeping my fingers crossed....

    Thanks again,
    Penny
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  5. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    She seemed much better this morning - she pooped several times in her cage and although it was a little runny, it was the typical black and white poop - mostly white. That's likely because she was drinking, but I couldn't get her to eat much at all.

    She was very feisty when I took her out to check her vent - she fought pretty hard to get free. Her vent looks normal.

    I put a little cooked deer and rice in her cage, a small bowl with some layer crumbles, a small bowl with some oyster shell and an egg shell I broke up for her, and a small bowl of grit. She wouldn't eat any of it.

    Because she was pooping and acting so feisty, I decided to mark her head and put her outside with the others. I put her in the coop and she immediately ran outside and started pecking around for food. I put out some shredded cheese (the same she refused to eat in the cage) and the little snot gobbled it right up, along with the others. So I threw out some oyster shell and crushed egg shells and she ate that too. They have oyster shell available 24 hours a day, but for some reason it seems to taste better if it's thrown around like scratch [​IMG] She was apparently pretty hungry - but she wouldn't eat much at all in her cage.

    The bottom line is she seems to be back to normal right now. I'll keep a close eye on her. I am worried that she'll have trouble with soft shelled eggs and that they may get stuck again. But I figure if that happens, it will happen whether she's in a cage or outside. And she is certainly much happier outside. I just don't know what to do that will prevent it. I'll keep a close eye on her though.

    Thanks,
    Penny
     

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