Picky chicken laying soft eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Gdalton, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. Gdalton

    Gdalton Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 4, 2014
    I have a 6 month old barred rock that started laying last week. She laid one normal egg, and one soft-shelled egg that was broken when we found it. I don't know which came first. Since then, she has only laid soft-shelled eggs every other day, but usually two at a time.

    We've been feeding layers pellets mixed with scratch but she eats the scratch and ignores the pellets. We've thrown in oyster shells but she hasn't eaten those much either. Could it be that the layers pellets are too big? They're cylindrical and larger than all other foods she eats. Do I need to grind them up some?

    Is this normal? Abnormal? I'm worried about infection bc an egg broke inside her the other day and she passed the white before the yolk and shell. Today there was an egg in the run- soft and dented but I could pick it up and it cracked on impact. And there was another egg in the coop, shell shredded up in pieces beside the frozen egg. The shell was the thickness of a laytex glove.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You have a few different things going on. If she is the only one doing this, you have a hen problem. If many other flock members are doing it, you may have a flock problem. If she‘s the only one laying, you may not be able to tell which you have yet.

    First, stop feeding scratch totally. Cut it out 100% and see if that helps. Layer has extra calcium in it, usually all the calcium a hen needs for her egg shells if that is all she eats. A vast majority of chickens have the instinct to eat the oyster shell if they need the calcium, but that’s most chickens, not all.

    Not all hens process the calcium they do eat the same either. A whole lot of what calcium they do eat doesn’t get absorbed and used by the hen but passes straight on through to the poop. Different hens absorb different amounts.

    Yours has just started to lay. Sometimes it takes a week or two for them to work out all the kinks in their internal egg making factory. I would give her a little more time before I decided she was not going to straighten out.

    Chickens will probably have a preference for certain foods. They normally like scratch better than chicken feed. They also can have a preference for pellets or crumbles. They can be different. Mine prefer pellets over crumbles, but many people have the opposite. I’ve never had a chicken starve herself to death of food is available, but think of it as some kids prefer candy to fresh vegetables if you give them the choice. I’ve had chickens swallow a plum pit and mice are a fairly regular part of their diet when I have the traps set. I seriously doubt the size of those pellets present a danger to 6 month old chickens. If it did, pellets would not be used universally for chickens that age.

    When you get two eggs the same day, it means her internal egg making factory screwed up. She released two yolks instead of one. When she releases two at once you often get a double yolked egg. If they are spaced out a bit, you get two separate eggs the same day. The hen’s shell gland normally only makes a certain amount of shell material, enough for one normal egg a day. As I said before, some process it differently. If you get a tiny egg, the shell may be really thick because the hen produced enough shell material for a larger egg. If she lays a double yolked egg or two a day, those can be pretty thin compared to a regular sized egg. It’s fairly normal that the second one is really thin or even soft shelled.

    What causes a hen to release two yolks? With some it is genetic. Their internal egg making factory just doesn’t work right. Pullets just starting out sometimes need to work the kinks out. Double yolked eggs or other problems are fairly common when a pullet just starts to lay. As complex as that egg making system is what is amazing to me is how many get it right to start with. Feeding a high amount of protein can make this problem worse if she has a tendency toward this.

    So I suggest feeding the pellets only with oyster shell offered on the side. If you feel the need, you can crack the pellets for her but don’t take them to a powder. The different nutrients can separate and form layers in the feed so she might not get a balanced although the feed contains everything she needs. Give her time to see if she straightens up.

    Good luck!
  3. Gdalton

    Gdalton Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 4, 2014
    In case anyone is going through a similar situation, an update:

    The chicken laid soft eggs for about a week. I took away her "snacks" (scratch), added a small amount of water to her layers pellets (they dissolve very quickly if you add too much), and she started to gobble them up. We had oyster shells out for her to eat as well.

    Then, we got a good egg! Another day or two passed, and a double yolked egg came out! I think there were still intermittent soft eggs at the beginning, but most were normal. She did a good week of steady daily eggs, and then we got 3 more chicks because she was our last bird from a previous flock. She started to eat the baby food and went back to laying soft eggs- often 2 at a time with one more developed than the other. One would be just a yolk looking thing with no whites. So, our consensus was that she needed to eat more pellets and that it was just an early laying phase.

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