Shell-less eggs

Blessedthistle

Chirping
Oct 25, 2018
16
30
64
NJ
Hello folks,

I'm new to the forum, and new to chickens since I bought my 6 chicks in the spring. 2 ended up roos, so now I only have 4 hens- 2 RI reds, 1 Australorp, and 1 Buff Orpington. I waited patiently for eggs all summer, feeding grower feed and then oyster shells free choice once laying started, all by end of August. They free range all day except for a few hours in the morning when they are laying because I can't leave their coop open during the day. The Australorp was last to start laying and frequently has had shellless eggs--I have never seen her eat the oyster shell. I have seen the others make a point of eating some in the evening when they come in. Now the Buff Orp has gone broody and stopped laying, I am finding NO eggs in the nesting boxes, and find several shell-less ones all over the property during the day. What can I do about the apparent lack of calcium in their diets without affecting my roos? Just got the relatives hooked on fresh eggs, and they are getting restless....
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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First of all, welcome to BYC! :frow
You will find mixed opinions on feeding options here. I feed an orgainic homemade fermented feed with OS on the side. I too had a shell-less layer. I have since mixed the OS into my feed for a final target concentration of 3%. But they can pick around the OS if they so choose. The cockerel eats this mix.
Once a cockerel is over 18 weeks old, he should not be negatively affected by eating layer mix. You should be find switching over or mixing OS into your all flock.
If your girls are laying shell-less eggs all over, they are laying past your morning hours of confinement to the coop. There is no way to leave them with access to the coop all day long? My girls will lay whenever they need to, as late as 5 in the afternoon sometimes.
Good luck.
 

Kat2141

Songster
Jul 25, 2018
281
653
182
Windsor, NY
My girls eat the OS but are not crazy about it... they don't like the size. The bag I got says it is pullet size but the chunks are still larger than they like. They tend to pick out the finer stuff at the bottom of the dish and throw the big chunks out on the floor. I also get them lots of dried, crushed egg shells. When they were free ranging all day/every day, I had found that if they are stressed/scared during the day - say from a fox or neighbor dog, I was more likely to get a soft shell that evening also. They have a large "pasture" that is fenced now and free range outside of that only part of the day and I rarely get soft shells now. Since they don't have access to the coop, can you make them a place they could have a nest box? Something that gives them a place to "hide" when they are laying their eggs. Even if mine are free ranging, they go back to their coop/nest box to lay.
 

Blessedthistle

Chirping
Oct 25, 2018
16
30
64
NJ
First of all, welcome to BYC! :frow
You will find mixed opinions on feeding options here. I feed an orgainic homemade fermented feed with OS on the side. I too had a shell-less layer. I have since mixed the OS into my feed for a final target concentration of 3%. But they can pick around the OS if they so choose. The cockerel eats this mix.
Once a cockerel is over 18 weeks old, he should not be negatively affected by eating layer mix. You should be find switching over or mixing OS into your all flock.
If your girls are laying shell-less eggs all over, they are laying past your morning hours of confinement to the coop. There is no way to leave them with access to the coop all day long? My girls will lay whenever they need to, as late as 5 in the afternoon sometimes.
Good luck.

Thanks for the welcome!
I like the idea of the homemade feed but am unable to do that at this time. I already spend so much time with dogs and horses with health issues, and none of them get bagged, commercial food, and their diets are so time consuming. My chickies get organic crumbles right now, but I just bought some pelleted to use next because what I have is so powdery that they lose interest once the chunks are gone. I haven't switched to layer feed because I read in a few places that it would shorten the lifespan of my roos. But I can't have my hens at risk either so I guess I'll have to switch.

I had to keep the coop shut when the neighbor's peacock started showing up, not only because of the feed he consumes but also because I'm afraid of my dog injuring him in the confined space. So I made a ramp to the nest boxes for my hens so they can fit through the smaller opening if they need to lay. This was working quite well until 2 weeks ago when everything fell apart because I am trying to keep the broody out of the nests. Sometimes one will show up at the coop and I just let her in to lay but they go in and then leave in 30 min or so with no egg, or I find a shell-less somewhere else in the coop.

Thank you for trying to help my girls:)
 

Blessedthistle

Chirping
Oct 25, 2018
16
30
64
NJ
My girls eat the OS but are not crazy about it... they don't like the size. The bag I got says it is pullet size but the chunks are still larger than they like. They tend to pick out the finer stuff at the bottom of the dish and throw the big chunks out on the floor. I also get them lots of dried, crushed egg shells. When they were free ranging all day/every day, I had found that if they are stressed/scared during the day - say from a fox or neighbor dog, I was more likely to get a soft shell that evening also. They have a large "pasture" that is fenced now and free range outside of that only part of the day and I rarely get soft shells now. Since they don't have access to the coop, can you make them a place they could have a nest box? Something that gives them a place to "hide" when they are laying their eggs. Even if mine are free ranging, they go back to their coop/nest box to lay.

That is interesting about the size. My bag doesn't have a size on it. I'm going to try sprinkling it around in their run to see if they eat more of it. Do you buy the crushed eggshells or make them? What you said about stress makes alot of sense.....I could see that happening. I explained my coop situation in the previous response, but they also have huge, mature shrubbery that they like to roost in and make little nests and dust-bath holes under. A few times they layed in my horses' hay boxes. As they matured they preferred to just head back to the coop.

So are you feeding layer pellets then with your OS/eggshells?
 

Kat2141

Songster
Jul 25, 2018
281
653
182
Windsor, NY
So are you feeding layer pellets then with your OS/eggshells?
I was feeding layer feed until I allowed my broody girl to hatch out some eggs I bought. Then they were basically eating the same as the chicks. I recently switched to Nutrena All Flock. DH really likes egg salad, so between making that and other uses of eggs, we can get a small pile of egg shells. I just break them up a little more, throw them in the toaster oven (rather than heating the big oven) for 15/20 minutes or so at about 275/300* (I'm not too exact, LOL). A hint if you do this, parchment paper keeps them from sticking to the baking sheet. Then I use the side of a coffee cup or whatever is handy to crush them into tiny pieces. The girls love them way more than the OS. I put them in a sealed dish and ration them out a little every day or two. I've never had a problem with them damaging their eggs to eat the shell, although I know some people have had that concern.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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What is the protein percentage of your 'grower' feed?


That is interesting about the size. My bag doesn't have a size on it.
I have never heard of this either.


I rinse, let drain/dry, then crush the egg shells and mix them with the OS in a separate feeder(see below).
Most the birds eat them just fine, pullets can take awhile to get the idea tho, so I will sprinkle some OS out with the scratch in the morning a couple times a week until they get with the program. You can also sprinkle a bit of OS on top of the feed, or sprinkle a bit of scratch on top of the OS.

 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
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… I waited patiently for eggs all summer... The Australorp was last to start laying and frequently has had shellless eggs... I am finding NO eggs in the nesting boxes, and find several shell-less ones all over the property during the day.... What can I do about the apparent lack of calcium in their diets without affecting my roos? Just got the relatives hooked on fresh eggs, and they are getting restless....

Myself, and many of my friends kept anywhere from 75 to several thousands of game fowl and all of the roosters ate laying pellets. As a result none of these game roosters ever had a single day that they suffered from kidney issues or enlarged prostate glands.
:oops:

Most softshell eggs are the result of the after effects of diseases like Newcastle or Infectious Bronchitis. These diseases settle on the shell gland or other parts of a hens' reproductive track and like the Mumps settling on little boys testacies this damage is life long. Internal laying, is one other issue that these diseases can lead to.
 

Kat2141

Songster
Jul 25, 2018
281
653
182
Windsor, NY
That is interesting about the size. My bag doesn't have a size on it.
my first bag didn't mention size either, so when I saw the Manna Pro brand
20181026_115221.jpg
that said pullet sized, I thought it would be finer... but it doesn't appear to be. Actually it doesn't seem to be as fine as the Dumor brand was.
 

MANNA-PRO

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