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Soft shelled eggs for days in a row

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by duckman4450, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. duckman4450

    duckman4450 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My hen mallard is 20 months old. She started laying eggs in the winter of 2013 and has pretty much laid an egg a day since starting. Every couple weeks, she'd lay a soft shelled egg which was no big deal because the next day it would be a good one.

    When she ran out of layer food, I went to the local supply store and bought some Nutrena Feather Fixer pellets. She has very bad feathers and has never molted so I was hoping she would molt soon and this food would either help grow her new feathers or fix her current ones (she still hasn't molted, no clue why). So we started giving her that and I'm pretty sure (as I remember) this is when the soft shelled eggs started happening daily. She has laid soft eggs for probably 2 weeks in a row with the exception of 1 good egg I think. A few days ago, she laid one that almost had no shell, she just pooped out a yolk, the white, and a tiny flappy "shell" that all just plopped onto the ground.

    She eats oyster shells every day, corn, lettuce and peas, meal worms and her food. I have been giving her some calcium water for a few days but nothing yet. I also added some raw apple cider vinegar to her water tonight hoping it would help. Now I have been giving her the remaining layer feed as her food.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to get her back to good eggs? She struggles so much laying the soft eggs. When I'm with her and she going to lay one, she drinks tons of water then she relies on pushing against my hands to get the egg out, and it is clearly painful and hard for her. She immediately loses all her energy and sleeps. I feel terrible she's going through this and really need some help for her. I can provide a picture of one of the eggs if any one wants to see what I mean. Thanks!!!!
     
  2. AQUDuckFarm

    AQUDuckFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Have you tried adding additional oyster shells to her feed to force her to eat more? What about grit? Is she getting plenty?
     
  3. duckman4450

    duckman4450 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I give her a bowl of oyster shells by themselves and she eats a lot of them. I also put them mixed with her food in the cage where she sleeps. I don't give her grit but she does forage in the yard for hours a day so Id assume she gets a fair amount naturally
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I would get some calcium citrate tablets. Give her 100 mg a day in her favorite treat. Just dissolve the tablet and mash the water into the treat. You don't need much water. I use hot water, they dissolve quickly. She really needs more calcium.

    Also - calcium is not the only component for healthy egg laying. She needs enough phosphorus but not too much, and vitamin D as well. I would back off on the extras - the vegetables and meal worms for a week. The vegetables are low in calcium and the meal worms are protein and would stimulate her egg laying.

    Consider getting her into a darker shelter for a few days to slow down her egg laying, too.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Gigglebox

    Gigglebox Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm no expert, but from what i've been reading ducks need to molt at least every 12-18 months or so or their egg quality suffers. From your description of her poorly feathers added to the egg quality, it sounds like she might be over due. Have you looked into inducing a molt?

    Are you keeping lights on for extended time to keep up egg production, or anything else that would keep her from molting? Sounds to me like she needs a break.

    Eta: I'm new here so anyone who wants to tell me I'm wrong and why, please do! I'm learning :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Gigglebox you bring up a good point. Some ducks really do need a break from time to time. And the way domestics are bred, some ducks don't seem to naturally take that break, especially the first couple of years. I had similar situations with a few of my Runners.
     
  7. duckman4450

    duckman4450 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I will get her some calcium citrate pills and lay off the veggies and worms. Does she get vitamin D naturally from the sun? She is outside for aound 10 hours a day, but maybe I should cover her pen up? I do that on cold or rainy days anyway. Also have you ever tried forced molting like gigglebox mentioned, and if so to what success?
     
  8. duckman4450

    duckman4450 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have looked into forced molting but was not fond of the idea since she's a pet and it's almost like starving my dog, I'd feel bad! But if it will help her I will consider, I just asked Amiga on her thoughts. I don't leave her lights on either. She has been in the same routine since I've had her...

    She goes outside around 8am, with no artificial lighting unless it's very cold, comes in for a nap around 12-1pm, goes back to her pen after napping, then gets to forage in the yard for a few hours from about 6-8 then comes in, sleeps on her bed and eats in the kitchen, then goes to sleep in the basement around 10-11 (the light stays on for an hour), then sleeps in pitch black and repeats.

    Some days vary, like I will take her to my room sometimes, but normally that's how her day goes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I would start with the calcium citrate, 50 to 80 mg per day. If she doesn't get better shells in a couple of days, I would increase that to 100 mg per day.

    I have never forced a molt - about the time any of my ducks start looking a little faded or ragged, they molt on their own.

    Our cats get Eagle Pak dry cat kibble (in the pink bag). So when I want to be sure the ducks get a Vitamin D boost in the winter, I put a small handful of it in the ducks' food a few times a week. It has Vitamin D in it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  10. Gigglebox

    Gigglebox Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a thought on the molting issue, and Amiga i'd love you opinion--seeing that the duck's lighting schedule is virtually the same all the time, would gradually lessening the amount of light exposure perhaps naturally induce a molt (without having to restrict food)?
     

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