Repeated soft shell - 3 year old Marans

MandS

Songster
5 Years
Apr 14, 2016
241
244
156
Berkshire, UK
Hi

Peggy, a 3 year old Marans hen, in good health and as normal as could be, has started laying lots of shell-less eggs.

This has been going on for about 4 to 6 weeks. Sometimes we will get a normal egg (green shell) and then we don't see an egg for days . This is because they are either shell-less or very thin shelled, they get broken and then they eat it. I just caught her with yolk on her beak and feet. She is on Layers Mash (which has some calcium in it) plus she has pots of oyster shell in the run. We even have started baking and then giving them back their shells (in little pieces).

Last night, when I put them to bed, I noticed where she was perched, below her vent on the straw was what looked like a fat caterpillar. White and curled up, about an inch and a half long, thicker at one end than the other (that's why it looked like a big grub). It wasn't it was a fairy egg (or something like that) which was soft but had the thinnest of shell coating.

Any idea what is going on? I did consider giving her Tums but thought I'd ask the community first. Any advice will be helpful. She seems well and is clearly still laying, just not often enough with a shell. Currently it's about 1 egg in 5 or 6 that has a shell.

Thanks
 

CaradineCousins

Songster
Dec 29, 2015
363
319
149
Birmingham Alabama
I SURE HOPE SOMEONE CAN GIVE YOU ADVICE ON THIS. I HAVE 1 GIRL THAT ALWAYS HAVE SOFT SHELL SPOTS ON HER'S SHE IS A BLACK JERSEY GIANT 5 YEARS OLD. FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS WE ARE LUCKY IF SHE LAYS 2 GOOD EGGS A WEEK I ALSO PUT OUT OYSTER SHELLS FOR THEM BUT ONLY ONE OF MY GIRLS EVER EATS IT THAT I CAN TELL AND SHE IS A BUFF ORPINGTON.
 

MandS

Songster
5 Years
Apr 14, 2016
241
244
156
Berkshire, UK
Thank you. I hope so too. If your girl has been doing that for a number of years, it sounds like it isn't something terminal. I heard sunlight is another factor but it is just coming into summer here with long, bright and sunny days.
 

Dephora

Songster
Apr 30, 2020
270
314
141
Southern Oregon
Does she free range? Is the layer mash new? A month ago did anything big happen? You move where the oyster shells are kept or maybe put them in a new coop etc?
 

Perris

Still learning
Jan 28, 2018
4,187
18,657
777
Gower, Wales
Clearly something's not right at the moment, but it is not necessarily calcium deficiency; if they're on a layer's ration it certainly shouldn't be! (and others in the flock would be suffering similarly if it was the feed)
Could you keep her in the dark for a day or two to turn off the egg laying cycle, and let it rest and reset?
 

MandS

Songster
5 Years
Apr 14, 2016
241
244
156
Berkshire, UK
Thanks both.
Does she free range? Is the layer mash new? A month ago did anything big happen? You move where the oyster shells are kept or maybe put them in a new coop etc?
No, she is in a large run. There's only 2 of them in this run because they fight with the others. Been in it her whole life and there are now only 2 of this group (of 5) left. I haven't moved anything or changed anything, so it would appear to be biological. I cannot think of anything in the last month (or before) that would account for this.

Could you keep her in the dark for a day or two to turn off the egg laying cycle, and let it rest and reset?
I could try- didn't know that was even a thing! It's pretty warm here though so that isn't too easy. I also found another little egg (or at least the membrane as the rest was eaten) as I cleaned them out last night. Again it was very small, about the size of a quail's egg if not smaller.

Thanks again for your help.
 

MandS

Songster
5 Years
Apr 14, 2016
241
244
156
Berkshire, UK
Just a quick update. No change......

She laid a very thin shelled egg yesterday. Is it worth trying a TUMS? 1/4 or 1/2 tablet and see if it strengthens it? Is there anything else I can try?
 

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