Soft shell egg dilemma

Islandgirl55

Hatching
Jun 13, 2020
5
3
9
I have two 18 month old RIR who laid beautifully until April this year when they started laying soft shell eggs. Strangely, they were molting at that time ( we have had crazy weather in BC, Canada this year) so I increased protein to 18% grower and then to 20% starter, they get free access to oyster shell & BOSS, kitchen scraps and free range most days. One girl went back to normal, one has not. Despite everything I’ve been doing this lady still lays an almost complete shelled egg but every single time the top is rubbery and it pops in nestbox even though the shell has calcium deposits on it as tho she is getting too much/not absorbing properly. This hen off and on has a distended abdomen and often you can see she just doesn’t feel well but always rallies, eats, drinks, roosts etc and no one picks on her. It’s been 4 months since a proper egg. Any chance she will sort things out on her own? I am leaning toward this being a calcium absorption issue or something internal like tumours maybe? Anybody have any ideas?
 

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ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
8 Years
Jun 23, 2013
9,229
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@aart @Kiki @Wyorp Rock @azygous. Thank you for any help, always learning from you all :hugs

Asking for those with more experience than myself ... My advice would be to stop all treats, I've learned they tend to take away from the nutritional balance of their feed. I would try that and see what happens. I agree with the higher protein feed and the Oyster Shells free choice ... I'm thinking she may have a reproductive issue, as you suspect absorption on calcium but I'm not sure.
 

Islandgirl55

Hatching
Jun 13, 2020
5
3
9
@aart @Kiki @Wyorp Rock @azygous. Thank you for any help, always learning from you all :hugs

Asking for those with more experience than myself ... My advice would be to stop all treats, I've learned they tend to take away from the nutritional balance of their feed. I would try that and see what happens. I agree with the higher protein feed and the Oyster Shells free choice ... I'm thinking she may have a reproductive issue, as you suspect absorption on calcium but I'm not sure.
Thank u for the feedback! I have greatly reduced the treats but I thought the BOSS would be “good treat” vs the scratch/kitchen scraps type thing? I have 10 other hens who all are laying well with no issues. I’m at a loss. Could try eliminating kitchen scraps and the boss and see if that helps. Willing to try anything at this point!!!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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Have you tried supplementing her directly with calcium? Posts #2 & 4 here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/soft-damaged-eggs.1452762/#post-24179363

Worth a try, you should have your answer within a couple of weeks whether it makes a difference or not. In this case the defect may be internal where she's just not forming shells properly regardless of calcium, but this should answer that question at least.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
25,319
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I use calcium citrate for egg shell issues.
F57D4B6B-216D-49EC-A92C-3DFAF3C5915E.jpeg
It more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate, which is what oyster shell is. One tablet directly in the beak until you see egg shell quality improve. Then go back to oyster shell as the calcium supplement.

Another cause of shell quality issues is molt. As molt approaches, I notice an increase in thin shells and incomplete shell coverage where an end is left soft or without a shell. Broken eggs in the nest have increased noticeably in my nest boxes. Shell quality always improves after molt.

Your hen does sound like she may have a reproductive infection from the description of her being "off" and her abdomen distended. Being young still, you might put her on an antibiotic and see if it improves her health. You can get amoxicillin from TSC under the label fish mox. 250mg per day for ten days is the dosage. Or buy it online here. https://www.kvsupply.com/item/aqua-mox-250mg-capsules-100-count/P06184/
 

Islandgirl55

Hatching
Jun 13, 2020
5
3
9
I use calcium citrate for egg shell issues. View attachment 2819515 It more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate, which is what oyster shell is. One tablet directly in the beak until you see egg shell quality improve. Then go back to oyster shell as the calcium supplement.

Another cause of shell quality issues is molt. As molt approaches, I notice an increase in thin shells and incomplete shell coverage where an end is left soft or without a shell. Broken eggs in the nest have increased noticeably in my nest boxes. Shell quality always improves after molt.

Your hen does sound like she may have a reproductive infection from the description of her being "off" and her abdomen distended. Being young still, you might put her on an antibiotic and see if it improves her health. You can get amoxicillin from TSC under the label fish mox. 250mg per day for ten days is the dosage. Or buy it online here. https://www.kvsupply.com/item/aqua-mox-250mg-capsules-100-count/P06184/
Thank u very much! I have read about this but wondered how effective it would be. I will definitely look into the antibiotics, in the meantime will start her on direct calcium supplement. Should I worry tho about the calcium deposits on her shell? If she is not absorbing it correctly is it possible to overload her with calcium and then end up depleting her phosphorous stores? Short term the extra calcium should be ok? So much info avail online it’s hard to know what to do! I appreciate everyone’s advice!
 

Islandgirl55

Hatching
Jun 13, 2020
5
3
9

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,835
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WA, Pac NW
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Short term the extra calcium should be ok? So much info avail online it’s hard to know what to do! I appreciate everyone’s advice!
Short term it should be fine. When you hear about excess calcium causing issues, it's calcium intake over time.

If the calcium supplements work you should see the effect on the eggs in 1-2 weeks or so.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Yes, as @rosemarythyme pointed out, calcium citrate is an intense calcium infusion for a very short duration. It will not cause mineral issues. I don't recommend it as a substitute for oyster shell. The longest you would give the citrate is two weeks.

It can increase the amount of calcium deposits on the shell, but that will diminish as her calcium blood levels fall back into equilibrium. This is worth it in my view because shell problems can lead to egg binding, and avoiding that medical emergency is worth a few pimples on the eggs for a while.

The antibiotic may or may not work, but I'm one to give it a try when it means maybe saving a favorite hen from a possible chronic infection that will probably kill her in the long run. If your hen was much older, I wouldn't recommend it, but a younger hen still has a chance to beat the infection as it likely hasn't been going on for all that long.
 

Islandgirl55

Hatching
Jun 13, 2020
5
3
9
Yes, as @rosemarythyme pointed out, calcium citrate is an intense calcium infusion for a very short duration. It will not cause mineral issues. I don't recommend it as a substitute for oyster shell. The longest you would give the citrate is two weeks.

It can increase the amount of calcium deposits on the shell, but that will diminish as her calcium blood levels fall back into equilibrium. This is worth it in my view because shell problems can lead to egg binding, and avoiding that medical emergency is worth a few pimples on the eggs for a while.

The antibiotic may or may not work, but I'm one to give it a try when it means maybe saving a favorite hen from a possible chronic infection that will probably kill her in the long run. If your hen was much older, I wouldn't recommend it, but a younger hen still has a chance to beat the infection as it likely hasn't been going on for all that long.
Thank you for the info, hopefully I can help her feel better with some extra calcium and time. I will be trying to get my hands on some antibiotics as well just to be safe :)
 

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