Soft shelled eggs

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by AbiandAmi, Sep 27, 2014.

  1. AbiandAmi

    AbiandAmi Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello. I have a leghorn hen that is continually being egg bound then laying soft shelled eggs. I give her shell grit that she continually has access to and give her calcium supplement every now and again. Tonight she laid an egg with a really long soft shell! I'm attaching a photo hopefully it works. Does anyone know why this is happening?
     
  2. darkbrahmamama

    darkbrahmamama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a hen that laid an egg similar to this a few weeks ago. Every now & again I'll get a soft shell, maybe 2 or 3 a year? No clue which one it is for sure. Mine always have oyster shells available, & get a layer/breeder feed. But mine also free range during the day, so who knows what they do & don't eat! Make sure yours always has oyster shells, that you're feeding a good quality feed, don't feed a lot of corn or treats or scratch, & I've been told calcium gluc. can help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    It can be a symptom of some fairly serious diseases, worth noting. If calcium supplementation and all due care taken with the diet won't stop the bird laying soft shelled eggs, there's a chance it's something worse. That said, I had a hen who laid soft shelled eggs for a whole year, because she'd been stomped on by a horse and her body rearranged. After that year she did go back to hard shelled eggs, but they had madly rippled surfaces.

    Best wishes.
     
  4. AbiandAmi

    AbiandAmi Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't think it is any sort of bacterial/viral illness as she seems otherwise quite well. It's just before laying the egg she starts to slow down and put her tail down.
     
  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    When mine lay softies I give them a human calcium pill or calcium gluconate orally and that usually gets the problem sorted. The dose I shoot for is about 100mg/kg (100mg per 2.2 pounds), but I have given as much as 300mg/kg.

    -Kathy
     
  6. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    And mine also have access to oyster shell.

    -Kathy
     
  7. AbiandAmi

    AbiandAmi Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh ok great I might give that a go :)
     
  8. julie42a

    julie42a Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been giving my soft shell layer a Caltrate tablet crushed in yogurt almost every day and it has only been mildly successful. I picked up some of the 23% liquid calcium at TSC and I thought I'd give it a try. I think I've worked out the dosing according to an earlier post from Kathy (thanks!) but can I save the rest of the liquid in the fridge? The bottle says to use it all because it won't be sterile, but that's for cows being injected and I'm using it orally. Just wondering before I open it. I don't know that it will help, she may just have a glitch in her system, but she's surprised me before.
    Thanks!
    Julie
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  9. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Unfortunately that's what most people think. Yes, they usually DO seem 'quite well'. ;) They're masters of pretense and can even seem quite healthy looking when they're dead, lol.

    Just because a symptom doesn't make them obviously look like they're dying doesn't actually mean it's not taking them towards that outcome, and doesn't mean it's not serious; unfortunately too many people only pay attention to the symptoms of dying, having dismissed all the previous symptoms of disease, and that's always what they say, in some variation or another --- "I don't believe it's a disease because they seem well". Later on they tend to have tales of chooks that 'just dropped dead without warning'. But the warnings were almost always there, just so misleadingly mild in appearance that people ignored them.

    Quite often the only symptoms you have are small ones (like soft-shelled egg laying, that's one symptom of some serious diseases that occurs sometimes in absence of all other symptoms, initially).

    Most people dismiss these seemingly minor symptoms of something being wrong, because they expect to see the animal in the dying stages and in great distress before they can confidently make a diagnosis of something being wrong. By the time you've let it go that far it's often beyond fixing. Abnormal events should always be taken as being potentially serious, after all something has clearly gone wrong to produce these symptoms. Many things can go wrong and share the same symptom, both mild problems and serious ones alike.

    This is not the sort of occasional soft-shell egg laying you can dismiss as being non serious, if you can't figure out what's wrong with this hen you're fairly likely to lose her, and whatever is causing it is potentially contagious. Hopefully not but always best to be aware of the possibility. Some serious viral diseases, among other types, have this as a symptom.

    This is not a mild pattern of symptoms either. One soft shelled egg every few months is still worth noting and addressing; a regular pattern like she has, and the deformed egg membrane as shown, is serious.

    Sorry to flog the point, but plenty of people on this site have lost chooks by following the exact same thought pattern you described in your post.

    Best wishes with finding out what's going on and fixing it, hopefully without loss of this hen or others. For what it's worth, I'd treat her as though she had a virus, just in case.
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Some more info... Any comprehensive site dealing with poultry health has information on causes of soft shelled eggs, and from what I've read some of the most serious contagious diseases also have soft-shelled eggs as a symptom, sometimes as the only symptom, at least up until the chook dies of the internal, unseen effects.

    Makes complete sense since reproduction is a sort of "luxury priority" health-wise and when the organism is suffering under significant strain, reproduction is relegated to secondary importance to survival.

    Infectious diseases, particularly those which affect the respiratory system, may only have the symptom of soft-shell eggs being laid. It's not uncommon at all, as individuals cope with and express disease symptoms differently and diseases have differing strains of virulence etc.

    The reason why respiratory diseases tend to affect the reproductive tract is explained here, as well as some other diseases that cause soft-shell eggs:

    Quote: This is not an exhaustive list, there's more.

    Just because symptoms normally seen are not seen in one case doesn't prove it's not the right diagnosis; I'm not trying to scare people, or be alarmist (lol) but some of these diseases are very common, as are cases of hens who can't lay proper eggs and don't respond to the normal treatments used for that problem, so it's just good to be aware of other possibilities.

    Some newbie who doesn't know this will possibly find this sort of info a life saver for their chooks, or at the very least an alternative explanation. If you don't know for sure what the cause is, it makes no sense to decide what it isn't based on often arbitrary and fickle or universal symptoms. Multiple diseases can also be active at any time in one host as well so multiple diagnoses can also be correct.

    The PDF file is handy, only a quite small one (single page) but explains many of the strange variations you see in eggs:

    Quote: Some more comprehensive info on EDS:

    Egg drop syndrome (EDS) is caused by a viral infection in laying hens. It is characterised by production of soft-shelled and shell-less eggs in apparently healthy birds, and leads to a sudden drop (10-40%) in recorded egg production or a failure to achieve a normal peak in production. It can be difficult to identify the early stages of the disease as hens will eat the shell-less eggs, and the only evidence that may remain is the membranes, which is a sign that is easy to miss.

    In flocks where some birds have acquired immunity due to the spread of the virus, a failure to reach expected production targets is observed. Clinical signs include diarrhoea and brief loss of shell colour and egg yolk pigment prior to the production of soft-shelled eggs and mortality is usually negligible. Ducks and geese are the natural hosts for the EDS virus and are asymptomatic carriers. Chickens of all ages and breeds are susceptible but the disease is most severe in broiler breeders and brown-egg layer strains. EDS was first introduced into chickens through contaminated vaccine and spread through breeder flocks. EDS is a notifiable disease in some states of Australia.

    EDS can be distinguished from Newcastle disease and influenza virus infections by the absence of illness, and from infectious bronchitis by the eggshell changes that occur at or just before the drop in egg production.

    What causes egg drop syndrome?

    EDS is caused by infection with the EDS virus which is an adenovirus. The incubation period is three to five days and the course of the disease is four to 10 weeks. The virus is transmitted through any of the conventional means of viral disease spread and is also transmitted on and in the egg (horizontal and vertical transmission). The main method of horizontal spread is through contaminated egg trays, however, droppings are also infective. Contact with wild ducks or geese, or water or ranges frequented by these birds, may be a source of infection. Humans and contaminated fomites (such as crates or trucks) can spread virus, which can also be transmitted by needles when vaccinating and drawing blood. Insect transmission has not been proven but is considered possible. Chicks hatched from infected eggs may develop antibodies and excrete virus however it is more common that the virus will remain latent (alive but inactive) and subsequently the bird will not produce antibodies. The virus reactivates and grows in the oviduct when the hens go into lay, at which point the viral cycle begins again. Birds which are immune to the virus (already have antibodies) reduce the rate of spread of the virus. EDS has no effect on fertility or hatchability of eggs that are suitable for setting.

    Treatment and prevention of EDS

    There is no successful treatment of EDS. The classical form has been eradicated from primary breeders and the maintenance of EDS-free breeding stock is the main control measure. In layers, induced moulting will restore egg production after an episode of EDS infection. The prevention of horizontal spread relies on good biosecurity and washing and disinfecting plastic egg trays before use can control the endemic form. The sporadic form can be prevented by ensuring that chicken flocks do not come into contact with other birds, especially waterfowl. As such, potentially contaminated water should be chlorinated before use and general sanitary precautions should always be followed. There are vaccines available to prevent infection, and if appropriately produced and administered, these inactivated vaccines can prevent clinical disease but will not prevent virus shedding.

    Best wishes.
     
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