May 29, 2019
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Sadly, my 2.5 y/o RIR (hybrid variety) seems to be dealing with reproductive issues. Over the last couple months, I've noticed her slowing down here and there, and also her eggs becoming a bit more fragile and wonky looking--i.e. excess calcium deposits, loss of pigment, weirdly elongated shapes, fragile shells. For the last month now, she hasn't laid a normal egg. Here's what's been happening:
  • Occasionally will look lethargic and like she's trying to lay, only to perk up later either after having laid a weird or shell-less egg, or no egg at all.
  • Sometimes her bouts of lethargy are followed by her laying multiple, weirdly small, shriveled up soft shell eggs without any yolk in them. They look like tiny, wrinkled torpedos with a water-balloon-like feel. (pictured below).
  • Once, an egg broke in her, but I was able to get her to pass the rest of the contents and stave off EYP by acting fast.
  • She still eats well, no signs of swelling in her abdomen, and her poops look normal (unless right before laying weird eggs--then they can be watery and even have a yellow tint). Except for when she has these bouts of lethargy around laying, she's very active.
  • She now is always the first to go to bed. Often her weird eggs are laid from the roost bars at night.
I'm hoping she's just coming to the end of her laying cycle. The poor thing never molted yet, and had been laying an egg virtually every day for the last 2 years. When we got her, we didn't realize "hybrid" RIR meant production breed, and thus lots of eggs and higher mortality due to reproductive issues early on. She's been the flock queen, and I hate to see her getting sick. Deep down I worry she might have a reproductive cancer or something; perhaps internally laying.

Any thoughts or suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!! Below is a photo of her, and one of her weird eggs:

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ChickenCanoe

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The weird eggs combined with the lethargy concerns me that she may be dealing with a respiratory virus or other disease (which affect the shell gland) or perhaps just a defective uterus.
In any case, I would try to induce molting and a cessation of laying and when she resumes, the kinks may have corrected themselves.
I do this by putting them somewhere that I can limit day length to 8 hours. That means no light the rest of the day and night. that usually does the trick for me.
Commercial egg farms induce molt by both reducing day length and restricting feed.
 
May 29, 2019
670
1,113
221
The weird eggs combined with the lethargy concerns me that she may be dealing with a respiratory virus or other disease (which affect the shell gland) or perhaps just a defective uterus.
In any case, I would try to induce molting and a cessation of laying and when she resumes, the kinks may have corrected themselves.
I do this by putting them somewhere that I can limit day length to 8 hours. That means no light the rest of the day and night. that usually does the trick for me.
Commercial egg farms induce molt by both reducing day length and restricting feed.
Thank you for the ideas!

The lethargy is only right before she lays a weird egg/eggs or if she's acting like she needs to lay (nesting down in a box making noises like she's trying to lay). After laying she always perks right up back to normal again. No perceptible respiratory symptoms in her or the others.

It's funny you mention light limits--I'm doing this with my EE who has an overproductive layer and will lay multiple times a day every day until the shells lose quality and one inevitably breaks inside her. Once she starts molting she can go back out and she's fine until late Spring when she gets overactive again.

I'll have to try that with my RIR. She has never molted for going on 3 years now, and I keep hoping she will. I hate doing that to her, but if it ultimately increases her lifespan and quality of life in the long run (it has for my EE), it's worth it.
 
May 29, 2019
670
1,113
221
The weird eggs combined with the lethargy concerns me that she may be dealing with a respiratory virus or other disease (which affect the shell gland) or perhaps just a defective uterus.
In any case, I would try to induce molting and a cessation of laying and when she resumes, the kinks may have corrected themselves.
I do this by putting them somewhere that I can limit day length to 8 hours. That means no light the rest of the day and night. that usually does the trick for me.
Commercial egg farms induce molt by both reducing day length and restricting feed.
I should add... even with my EE only getting 5 hours of sun a day, she STILL manages to lay an egg every day, but the shell quality is able to stay healthy enough. It's crazy.
 

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