Possible soft shell problem?

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
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126
South Mississippi
My pullets/ hens (I forget what age they transition) are about 8 months old. For the past few months I've been finding evidence of a broken soft shell egg every few mornings or so, occasionally several consecutive days. Since they began laying at 20 weeks, they've had access to oyster shell and eat up all the egg shells in the compost.

Is this still just an issue of being an immature bird?

I'd try to narrow it down among the six, but the egg is usually dropped before I move them in the morning.

The rest of their diet is Flock Raiser, free choice, roughly 3/4 to 1 cup scratch in the morning to move them to the mobile run, and whatever they get in the yard and compost during their 3 hours of free range in the evening.
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
I would say that the soft egg shells is because of being pullets.
Keep offering oyster shells and grit as free choice.
Are they still on the roost when you move them in the morning?

They're all out and about in the run attached to their coop. I think they're up about 5 and I get up around 7. It depends on when the first toddler wakes up.

a way you can find out who laid it is putting a little food colouring on their vent & that will come off on the egg. i think it needs to be early in the morning before anyone lays though

I have some dye so I could get an idea of laying frequency, actually. I can try it at night when I lock them up.
 

aart

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Is this still just an issue of being an immature bird?
Probably not.
She may be slowing production with the short days, not all pullets will lay all winter.
Some may even have a partial molt.
If this is the case, you can get some funky eggs around that time.

She may not be eating enough OS and/or egg shell.
She may just not be processing calcium well.
Softshell eggs often get dropped off the roost at night,
they don't 'feel' right so bird is not prompted to get to the nest.
They can also be hard to move down the pike, no hard shell for the contraction to work against, so bird may act weird as one is on it's way out.

Since they began laying at 20 weeks, they've had access to oyster shell and eat up all the egg shells in the compost.
Are they eating the OS?
Might want to crush up the egg shells and mix it with the OS.
Is OS in a separate feeder?

My pullets/ hens (I forget what age they transition)
One year of age.
FYI-PSA.....semantics, maybe, but can be important communication terms when discussing chicken behavior.
Female chickens are called pullets until one year of age, then they are called hens.
Male chickens are called cockerels until one year of age, then they are called cocks(or cockbirds or roosters).
Age in weeks or months is always a good thing to note.
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
@aart , it is not semantics for me. I'd prefer to use the proper terms; I'm still very much a novice feel free to correct me. I thought that was the case, but think I got confused with how a heifer becomes a cow with her first calf. My mind went pullet to hen with onset of laying.

The OS is in a separate feeder, but I'll put some shells on the lip to see what they'll do. I've never witnessed them eat it, but it looks the same as their feeder so I'm sure it's been inspected. Any other eggs I collect have good strong shells that can take some effort to crack.

My setup:
20201204_081142.jpg

The oyster shell lives there; the feed follows them into the mobile run. They are only away from the oyster shell 6 to 8 hours,
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
Returning to this thread versus starting a new one:

Hens are officially a year old and someone has returned to laying softshell eggs. I've had at least two broken under the roost. I have one bird that I suspect as I know she layed a very weak shell egg. The egg was soft enough that the end cracked when she laid it. I'm still working thru my two books in my spare time, but is this now a question of poor genetics?

I'm going to dye a couple vents tonight to narrow down my thin layers. If it is one bird and likely genetics, I'm going to cull her when I cull my cock (he's turned into a pain in the butt). I've found eggs in the boxes broken and not consumed, so I know at least one bird is laying subpar shells.

Feed setup has not changed.
 

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