pullet not starting to lay and hen laying shell-less eggs


7 Years
Oct 27, 2012
My pullet, Mica, has been on layer feed since she was "very young", said the breeder. Mica is now 6 months and 3 1/2 weeks old and hasn't started laying. She is a Barred Rock/Americauna (50/50%). She had been free-ranged most of the day and had free access to duck food, layer crumble, and chick starter until I got her. I got her when she was a little over 2 months old. Since I got her, she has had layer pellets, scratch, and lots of balanced people food protein (egg, meat, beans, milk/dairy, veggies and fruits, bread and grain) and insects and plants they forage in their pen, especially grasshoppers. Now she is on layer pellets, some veggies, grasshoppers and other run catches or forage, but I’ve cut out the rest of the people food and the scratch. I haven’t been abl3 to let her out of the run for some time though because of predators, but she still forages in a 30’ x 30’ pen.

She seems healthy, but I worry that she wasn’t on grower but rather on layer pellets (are whatever) when she was a pullet, and I wonder if that is why she hasn’t started laying yet. If she had too much Calcium in her diet, will her kidneys be damaged later? Why isn’t she laying?

I don’t know if this is related, but her pen mate hen, Piquante, who had been laying regularly about 5 eggs a week with no problems, started laying shellless eggs for about a week. Don’t know the cause but suspected a bound egg or a crop blockage. Never felt a blocked egg, but I’m new to this and don’t really know how to tell. Also, I thought her crop was big one morning, but I’m not sure how to tell. She is fine now, no more runny egg mess, and she is pooping again normally, but still no eggs. She is also molting, I think.

If this hen had two little calcium, which I doubt (she also has access to oyster shell) that might have accounted for the shell-less eggs, but I don’t think she was CA deficient. She was also getting some milk and shell. If she was CA deficient, then the pullet also would not be overly dosed with CA.

I don’t know if these two problems with the two birds are related to each other or are related to diet, past and present. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks.
What i usauly do when my girls stop laying ( only in the winter ) I put a light in thier cage because sometimes when it gets darker earlier they dont have enough light to lay so put a light in there, and tell me how it goes! ( it may take a while for her to get used to )
Kidney damage occurs while they are growing. So at this point If Mica is healthy don't worry about it. If there was damage it may, or may not cause a problem when she is old. Either way there is nothing to be done. She may not have started to lay yet because of the coming winter, or maybe she is a slow developer. She is still young yet give her time.
A crop will change its size according to how much the bird has eaten and how long ago, period. Sometimes when a hen goes into molt her system gets out of wack.
Yes, it could be winter coming on. I don't have electricity near the hens. Would a little solar light, the kind you stick in the ground that isn't very bright ,work? Could I put it in the coop at night when they go to bed, or would I have to put it in before dawn? Problem with this is I'd have to get up about 3:00 AM. to put it in if they need to have light in the early morning but not at night. Those solar lights stay on all night then go off when they run out of power, which would be in the early morning. thanks for your comment.
That was very helpful Den in Penn.

May I ask for further information from you? Would it be obvious now if there was kidney damage or would I have to wait until she is old to find out?

I'll try to be patient and wait. I hope it is because Mica is a slow developer or because winter is coming on. Do you think it is NOT the diet?

How can you tell when a pullet is almost ready to lay? Is it true there are signs. As a Easter Egger, her comb is a pea comb, so I'm not sure how it is supposed to look when she matures. It is not much different now than it was when she was younger.

Do you mean that she could have a one or two inch in diameter tumor like lump on her chests in the morning if she ate a lot the night before, without their being anything wrong? There is alfalfa as litter in her little coop, so she might have eaten that morning before I let her out. It is kinda dark in there, but after daylight, there are ventilation holes that could provide a little light. Also, the alfalfa itself is a long grass, so that could get stuck in her crop, no?

I never thought about the possibility that her molting could throw her egg-laying into a tizzy and cause her to make shell-less eggs. I know molting can stop egg laying, but didn't know it could cause her to lay shell-less eggs every day for a week after laying 5 normal eggs the week before.

thanks for your input. So glad I joined this membership..
To be honest I don't know of any tell tales of kidney damage for a chicken that is acting normal. Unless you have a vet run some tests, I don't know of a way to find out. There are a lot of factors that go into the development of a chick. Taking them off the high calcium diet when half way through their development may well have lessened any effects to the kidneys. If she was given anything else in her first two months would have lessened the effects.

Diet can effect the development. It may just be in her genes to develop slow, that's not all bad. The longer they take to develop the more ready their bodies are to lay.

The pea comb will turn red like any other comb when she in nearing lay. It will never get large and floppy like a leghorn it will stay small.

The crop is like a storage bag that holds the food before it goes to the gizzard to be ground up. So when they just eat a large amount it will be large. Think of it as when we eat a large feast distending our bellies and have to loosen belts. They won't eat enough of the alfalfa stems at one time to cause a problem as they tend to like just the leaves. But I think I might try to find another litter.
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