Shelless Eggs and Losing Feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Geologist, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. Geologist

    Geologist Hatching

    Sep 23, 2010
    New Jersey
    I am relatively new to chickens and still learning, so please bear with me! Anyway, I have an Easter Egger who has been laying very consistently for nearly a year now (we got her as a pullet). She always ate well and was very healthy with great egg production. All of a sudden about 3 weeks ago I noticed her not eating as much. Then, she started laying shelless eggs shortly after that. Now, this morning I noticed that she is losing her tail feathers. I am wondering if this is all connected. She gets everything she needs from the feed and our table scraps (including calcium), so I don't think its a calcium deficiency. Is it typical to see shelless eggs in connection with lack of appetite and feather loss all relating to some specific illness? She is otherwise fine and does eat, just not nearly as much as she normally does. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  2. poultrycrazy

    poultrycrazy Songster

    Aug 25, 2010
    I hope this helps. This is the question you asked and i found it on my
    Q: Why did my chicken lay a shell-less egg? A: Chickens need a lot of calcium to create good, hard shells, so most incidences of shell-less eggs in an adult hens are related to not having enough calcium in the diet. Young hens may lay a shell-less egg or two right as they begin to lay eggs for the first time, before their systems have "gotten into the groove" of laying. If your girls are on a proper diet of lay ration and have oyster shell free choice, they should have all the calcium they need. They also need Vitamin D and a proper balance of other vitamins so they can process the calcium. Lots of snacks or scraps can throw off the nutrient balance of their diets or give them too much salt.

    Disturbances at night while they are sleeping--a predator prowling around, or a big storm, for example-- can also sometimes upset their system and cause shell-less eggs. If that is what's happening, some of the other girls' eggs may have bands or "checks" on them, as the laying process was disturbed briefly before resuming its normal course. If disturbances are the problem, when they cease, the shell problems should cease, too.

    Another possibility has to do with the salt in their diet. Too much salinity can cause shell-less or thin-shelled eggs. So, sometimes if they are drinking water that is highly softened, it can contain a problem amount of salts for them.

    It could also simply be a defective shell gland; it that is the case there is nothing to be done about it.

    Lastly, infectious bronchitis can also cause thin shelled eggs, or eggs with no shells. Chances are good you would have noticed respiratory symptoms. If you suspect your chicken has a case of IB, you should get her to a vet for a diagnosis immediately. There are some other illnesses, such as egg drop syndrome, that could cause the same thing. If you have eliminated everything else, your vet may be able to help you.
  3. Geologist

    Geologist Hatching

    Sep 23, 2010
    New Jersey
    Thanks so much for the info. However, I was mostly wondering if shelless aggs ever accompany appetite loss and feather loss and if those three things together can be caused by some specific illness. I don't think it is a calcium deficiency as all my other chickens are doing fine. I never thought of the salt thing and i suppose that could be it, but again, my other chickens are just fine. I did just today catch a skunk that has been lurking around the backyard for several weeks and the one with the problem is very skittish, so maybe she has been stressed out about it. I guess I'll have to see if she recovers when I remove the skunk from the yard. Thanks again!
  4. OregonChickenGal

    OregonChickenGal Songster

    Jul 26, 2010
    Central Oregon
    Make sure you check her for mites. Worms could be a problem also. That would account for loss of appetite and feather loss.
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    It sounds like she's molting.
  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Make sure you provide your chickens with crushed oyster shell as free choice for them. Most feed stores carry it or you can order it from Mypetchicken, Meyer Hatchery or maybe another hatchery. Crushed oyster shell has the calcium necessary to harden eggshells. I would check for lice/mites first. Visually inspect her, especially around the vent area. This could be a cause for loss of appetite and feather loss. If there has been a rooster overmating with your EE that will cause feather loss too. Moult will also cause everything you stated as well, but not necessarily the shell less eggs. Normally during moult they dont lay at all, my EE stopped laying during her moult. However, my Black Star went through a full blown moult and layed an egg just about every day. Basically any kind of stress can cause them to get out of sync...excessive heat, change of feed, change of coop, adding newbies to the flock, pecking order changes, predators and so on. Hope this helps.

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