Odd Egg Question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ZeeAviatrix, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. ZeeAviatrix

    ZeeAviatrix Chirping

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    Hello!

    I've got 3 Wyandotte chickens - 2 hens and 1 rooster. They all seem to get along, although the rooster seems to prefer and hang out with one hen in particular. Both hens have been laying nice eggs. Recently, however, I have noticed that I am seeing some eggs that have too much calcium and today, one was a very weird soft egg. I don't know which hen is laying the "off" egg, since they all share the same coop. During the day, they run free on the property.

    I read the article on egg abnormalities: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/common-egg-quality-problems.65923/ which was very interesting. A soft egg is not enough calcium, a calcium covered egg may be too much calcium, according to the article. The reason can also be stress, molting, or infection bronchitis. Both hens appear very healthy, running around being hens. Both hens are on the same diet and one of them is laying perfect, smooth eggs.

    I give them a mixture of egg-laying mash from the co-op, mixed with one third cracked corn, so the rooster eats the same thing. I did start giving them chopped egg shell to add calcium to their diet and I was wondering if that was too much. I also noticed that either one or both hens sometimes lay outside the nesting box - around a nearby tree which has leaves around it and little nooks and crannies. One (or both) sometimes lay their eggs there. I am wondering if the stressed hen is going there to lay in peace. Would a hen who appears to be a loner and at the bottom of the pecking order be stressed?

    Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!
     
  2. featheredplanets

    featheredplanets Songster

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    Hens do sometimes lay the 'odd' egg, some of mine use to have a few calcium deposits on. One of my oldest hens laid a soft shelled egg and a few hours later laid a normal egg. I would think your hens are just normal and having a few hiccups.
     
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  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    The diet you are feeding them is not ideal and may be throwing their nutrient balance out of whack, both the protein and the calcium. A third cracked corn to 2 thirds layer is not good. The cracked corn is lower in both protein and calcium than the layer and will therefore dilute their overall daily protein and calcium intake. They may also eat it in preference to the layer, meaning that they waste quite a lot of the mash to get to the corn by billing it out of the feeder.... again this means that they get significantly less of those nutrients or an erratic intake of them. Depending upon what they are able to free range on, some plants also inhibit the absorption of calcium. I appreciate that you are probably concerned about the cockerel getting too much calcium from the layer, but it can be equally risky for the pullets not to get enough.
    Personally I feed my hens and cockerels layer pellets without any apparent problem with a little scratch thrown down as a treat.... no more than 10% of their daily food intake .... less is better.... but they will cajole you into giving them more if you let them.... you really need to be quite disciplined with yourself and them about giving them treats like corn and scratch and mixing it in with their regular food is not a good idea.
    Some people feed their mixed flock of males and females a "grower" or "flock raiser" compound feed and provide oyster shells on the side.

    Of course it may just be an anomaly with your girl laying eggs with irregular shells that will sort itself out, particularly if she is a new layer, but that extra cracked corn is still not good for them and can lead to excessive fatty deposits and possibly liver problems long term as well as the risks of an egg breaking inside her or getting stuck.

    As regards where they lay, some birds will be very accommodating and lay in the nest boxes and others will be more creative. If they are new layers then it sometimes takes them a while to figure out that an egg is coming and they drop them willy nilly wherever they happen to be when the urge hits them until they get the hang of it. There may be some good reason reason why they are laying them under the tree.... it may be darker and quieter or there may be a problem with the nest boxes.... too hot, to bright, too high up, too low down or perhaps they don't like the bedding you are using or there are mites in the coop. You could perhaps line the nest box with some of the leaves from under the tree and see if that encourages them. Usually people confine them to the coop for several days to retrain them to use the nest boxes provided, if they start getting sneaky and laying away.
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Agrees that the diet is deficient.
    Look at nutrient label sewn into bottom of bag, or where ever the mill puts it.
    Protein and calcium percentages need to be looked at.
    How old are these birds?
     
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  5. ZeeAviatrix

    ZeeAviatrix Chirping

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    You are so right - they do prefer the corn, for sure. I will cut it out and just give them the laying mash. I want them to be healthy!

    I've got pine shavings in the nesting boxes. Putting leaves in the boxes is a great idea! I will do that as well.
     
    Stayc likes this.
  6. ZeeAviatrix

    ZeeAviatrix Chirping

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    I certainly will look at the label. Thanks so much! My pullets are 8 months old. They are beautiful and the rooster is amazing - such a good watch "dog" with his ladies, lol!
     
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  7. ZeeAviatrix

    ZeeAviatrix Chirping

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    Well, that is good to know. I didn't want soft eggs to be something I got everyday! Thanks!
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Leaves might help, as might some fake eggs.
    But first, let's make sure your nests are easy to get into/out of and of adequate size.
    Have they 'examined' or used the nests at all?
    Would you post pics of nests?
     
    Stayc likes this.
  9. ZeeAviatrix

    ZeeAviatrix Chirping

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    They are using the nesting boxes most of the time. Sometimes when they are free ranging, one of them will get the urge to lay and will return to the coop to lay. Sometimes it seems they just decide to go to the tree. I will take pictures and show you my setup, as soon as I get the chance, then maybe you can tell me what you think. Thanks so much!

    By the way I absolutely love your avatar! I love to juggle and I love chickens, ha, ha!
     
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  10. ZeeAviatrix

    ZeeAviatrix Chirping

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    I am posting pictures of the two nesting boxes I've got in my chicken coop, the food contents of the layer feed, and the types of eggs I am getting: a beautiful normal one, one with too much calcium, and one soft one.

    I see that the protein content is 18%, whereas you suggested at least 20%. Would that make a difference? Also, do you recommend giving the pullets crushed egg shell? I've been doing that. Maybe too much?

    IMG_6773.JPG IMG_6774.JPG IMG_6775.JPG
     
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