Soft Shelled Egg

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Backyard Buddies, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    My three girls have been in various stages of molt for the past several months. Their "hatchday" was March 27, 2006 so this was their first major molt and I'm therefore new to all of this.

    Someone has laid a soft shelled egg off the roost and I'm wondering who and if this is normal when laying resumes after a molt. This egg was very light colored, nearly a soft pink.

    Elsie (EE) stopped laying in mid-September, laid 9 eggs in November, and hasn't laid an egg since including all of December. She's not the most hearty layer, so this isn't entirely outside her norm. Her feathers have been fully grown back for weeks. She lays sage colored eggs, so I don't think the egg from the roost was hers.

    Penny (RIR) stopped laying in mid-October for a week and a half, lost some feathers, laid sporatically through November, then stopped after just two eggs in December. Her feathers are mostly back.

    Ruthie (RIR) stopped laying the last week of November and didn't lay all through December. She is still scruffy looking and not at all her usual snuggly self.

    Last week, someone started eating the oyster shell that I always have available free choice. Yesterday, Penny laid an egg in the nest box. It looked completely normal, if not slightly lighter in color than her usual eggs.

    This morning, when I went to let the girls out to their run, I found the very soft shelled egg under the roost. It was laid less than 24 hours after Penny's egg of yesterday. Could this still be her egg? It was smaller than her usual egg size (Ruthie's eggs are smaller than Pennys') but Ruthie is showing no signs of laying.

    What's up with this?

    Edited to add pictures:

    Picture of the girls eggs, taken last Spring:
    From left: Elsie's, Ruthie's, Penny's


    Picture of the soft shelled egg I found this morning. I scooped it out of the litter, thus the litter chunks in there.


    Picture of Penny's egg from yesterday and the soft shelled one found today:

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2008
  2. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    The molt has a big change in the chickens productive system. It is natures way to give them a rest. It may take a short while to get things back to normal. 14 hours of daylight are prefered for optimal laying.

    Do you have 14 hours of daylight now? If not , do you have added light in the coop to provide the needed hours? That would make a difference worth consideration.

    Chickens, aren't laying machines and will be less than perfect sometimes, so it is good management to keep a close eye on things like you are doing. Collecting eggs like you found today is a good thing, cause it will keep any hens from becoming egg eaters....which they will with without a close eye. Good job... way to go!

  3. Churkenduse

    Churkenduse Songster

    Jan 1, 2008
    Have you ever fed them any sort of calcium, maybe they are deficient, not your fault some feed has more than others check with your feed supplier for an additive.
    You can feed them their own egg shells, most economical. But you have to be careful to dry it, grind it up fairly fine, if they get the idea it is their eggs they will start eating their own.
    if you use a blender that should do it, and add to their feed.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Thanks for your replies Churkenduse and Bigzio. To answer some of your questions. . .

    No, I don't add additional light to their coop. These are primarily pets, as my kids would tell you, and the eggs are just a benefit. We do live in So Cal so we are certainly getting more hours of light than those who live in the North, but it's still not 14 hours (more like 10). My concern is less with the number of eggs but more the quality of that one egg. We have never had anything close to a soft egg here so it was a surprise to see it. Usually, my girls eggs are as hard as rocks!

    I don't add any additional calcium to their food but I do provide free choice oyster shell at all times. For weeks, no one touched it but I noticed that someone in the coop was eating it again this past week so I figured someone would be laying soon.

    Earlier today I thought the answer was going to be found. Penny (the egg layer from the day before) was in the nest box midday, about when I would have expected her to lay again if she were going to. However, while she cackled, there was no egg in the box. So, at this point I can't say with any certainty whether she laid a good one then a quick bad one, or whether Ruthie is responsible for the bad one. Will keep you all informed.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  5. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    These things can happen when they've come off a moult, are at the start of a laying cycle or at the end of a laying cycle...the strange ones are usually just glitches in the system and should clear up on their own.
  6. fivebigreds

    fivebigreds Songster

    Sep 9, 2007
    middle Tennessee
    one of mine layed one under the roost this morning and i have had that to happen from time to time. I have extra calcium and no ones molting . I think sometimes the egg just rolls down and out without stopping at the gland that forms the shell . I don't think there's anything that us or the hen can do different to prevent it.
  7. HenHaven

    HenHaven Songster

    Mar 3, 2007
    Coarsegold, CA
    I've gotten eggs just like that. They occurred when the girls were entering their molt. I think those glitches can occur as anomalies anytime, but are more common at either end of the laying cycle--start up or tapering off to molt.

    When I see one like that I do worry that the hen might not be able to pass the next one. I usually feed them yogurt then to make sure they are getting some additional calcium.

    Good luck, and keep us posted.
  8. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Thanks again, guys!

    So, how long are these glitches supposed to last? I've been watching the girls carefully, checking vents, watching for squatting and red combs and have decided that Penny is the likely culprit of the soft shelled egg.

    After laying the normal egg on Jan. 2 and the soft shelled egg on Jan. 3rd, there were no other eggs, regular or soft shelled, until now. This morning I found another soft shelled egg under the roost.

    The girls eat laying pellets and they have oyster shell available free choice. I have given them yogurt several times recently, and added some Avia Charge 2000 to their diet as well as some bird vitamins that were recommended by their vet.

    Still, this was what I found today (although I rinsed it off for you all). It feels somewhat like the thickness of a bandage.


    Any thoughts on anything else I can do?
  9. HenHaven

    HenHaven Songster

    Mar 3, 2007
    Coarsegold, CA
    I forgot one thing I did....I mixed in oyster shell in with the layer pellets for awhile. My girls do not know how to self adjust the oyster shell.
  10. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    If I get another soft shelled egg perhaps I'll try the same thing, Lynn. There weren't any eggs today, at least as far as I can tell. This morning, I very finely ground up some of the oyster shell that I have in there and noticed that someone really went to town in the oyster shell hopper today. I hope that's good news.

    Traditionally, my girls have been great about making use of the oyster shell. And until this recent event, the girls have had really hard shells which is why this threw me for a loop. But, clearly this calls for a new way of looking at things. I greatly appreciate you all sharing your experiences.

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