Soft shells

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Janice76, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. Janice76

    Janice76 New Egg

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    I am still getting some soft shells. I have a dish of oyster shell next to food dish but they didn't seam to eat it. So started to mix it with food but seams to be at the bottom of food not eaten. Any thing I can give them or different kind of food.
     
  2. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    What all are you feeding,
    Brand, Protein amount, Treats (types and amounts)
    Are you feeding Flax Seed? If so try cutting it out, Overfeeding flaxseed can cause problems for your hens because flax seed contains sticky compounds that stop the hen from digesting some of the nutrients in her diet. Flax seed also contains a compound called linoline that may increase the birds' vitamin requirements. Feeding too much flax seed can also cause production drops, small egg size, reduced body weight gain and thin egg shells.

    A few things to look at when you are getting soft eggs are (remember too much of any one of these ingredients can affect egg quality just the same as too little) --

    Protein, Adequate levels of lysine and methionine is need to produce good egg shells. When pullets begin laying, there is an increase in protein, vitamin and mineral requirements per day due to deposition in the egg. If dietary protein is too low or the amino acid requirements are not met, poor egg production and hatchability will occur.

    Calcium, The egg shell is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The pullet's requirement for calciumis relatively low during the growing period, but when the first eggs are produced, the need is increased at least four times, with practically all of the increase being used for the productionof eggshells. Inadequate calcium consumption will result in decreased egg production and loweregg shell quality.
    Hens store calcium in medullary bone, a specialized bone capable of rapid calcium turnover. As calcium stores are depleted, bones become brittle. In severe cases, hens are unable tostand. The condition is known as caged-layer fatigue. Birds on the ground or on litter floorsrecycle calcium and phosphorus through consumption of feces, and do not have caged-layer fatigue.
    Calcium can be supplied in the diet as either ground limestone or oyster shell. Particlesize affects calcium availability. Usually the larger the particle size, the longer the particlewill be retained in the upper digestive tract. This means that the larger particles of thecalcium source are released more slowly, and this may be important for the continuity of shellformation, especially in the dark period when birds do not ordinarily eat.
    Periodically, dolomitic limestone is offered to the feed industry. However, dolomitic limestone(which is used in the steel industry) should never be used in poultry diets. Dolomitic limestonecontains at least 10% magnesium, and this complexes with calcium or competes with calcium forabsorption sites in the intestines. The consequence of feeding dolomitic limestone is inducedcalcium deficiency.
    Young birds should not be fed a high calcium layer diet because the calcium/phosphorus ratiowill be unbalanced, resulting in increased morbidity or mortality.

    Phosphorus, The nutritional role of phosphorus is closely related to that of calcium. Both are constituentsof bone. The ratio of dietary calcium to phosphorus affects the absorption of both these elements;an excess of either one impedes absorption and can reduce egg production, shell quality and/orhatchability.
    In addition to its function in bone, phosphorus plays a primary role in carbohydrate metabolism,is active in fat metabolism, and helps to regulate the acid-base balance of the body

    Vitamin D, Vitamin D is required for normal calcium absorption and utilization. If inadequate levelsof vitamin D are fed, induced calcium deficiency quickly results and egg production decreases.
    Feed grade vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. In most animals, both are equally potent. In birds, however, D3 is substantially more active than D2. In poultry diets, therefore, vitamin D must be supplied in the form of D3.

    Magnesium, Magnesium is needed for healthy bones, proper nervous system functioning, and energy metabolism.

    Fat, Dietary fat is a source of energy and of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. A deficiency of linoleic acid will adversely affect egg production. Dietary fats also serve as "carriers"of fat-soluble vitamins, and some fat is necessary for absorption of vitamins. In fact, impairmentof the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) is the most serious consequence of a dietary deficiency of fat.

    The general make up of a egg shell is --
    Calcium carbonate.............................................................:94-97%
    Phosphorus.......................................................................:0.3%
    Magnesium........................................................................:0.2%
    Sodium, Potassium, Manganese, Iron and Copper............:traces
    Organic matter...................................................................:< 2%
     
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  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Good writeup by Chris.

    No matter what, don't mix oyster shell with feed or they will have no choice but to consume excessive calcium. Excess calcium will cause kidney failure, visceral gout and other health issues.
    They may not seem to be eating any but an active layer only needs a couple pieces a day and if you aren't watching them all afternoon you won't see them eating any.

    Excessive calcium, causing an imbalance of Ca/P/D3 can cause shell problems just as much as insufficient calcium.
     
  4. Janice76

    Janice76 New Egg

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    Sep 12, 2014
    I feed them Nutrena Nature Wise Layer Feed. They also get cracked corn and lot of veg scraps. They also free range.
     
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Nature Wise Layer is only a 16% protein and by adding corn, veg's, and letting them free ranging the protein, vitamins and minerals are really lowered and could be the reason your getting soft shells.

    What you could do is cut out the corn and scraps and see if that helps any.
    The other thing you could try is switching to a higher protein feed, one about 18% protein is good. I would still cut out the corn, this time of the year there is no reason to add it to there mix.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Other than the free range, if it were me, I'd cut out the scratch and scraps till their reproductive tracts straighten themselves out.

    If you read the label of most feeds, the directions will say something to the effect - "This is a complete feed and should be fed as the sole ration, no other supplements are needed."
    What that means is that the feed contains all the nutrients chickens are known to need in the appropriate ratios. If there's an unexplained anomaly in health or laying, I would assume a nutritional imbalance if they're getting something other than chicken feed.
     
  7. suellen123

    suellen123 Out Of The Brooder

    Make sure you check the butt of your female laying soft shells and look for signs like her not coming in at night with the others or being distant from the others. Birds rarely show signs of trouble until 24 hours within death. Its a survival thing they have from being in the wild. You have to look for signs of trouble.. There is something "horrible" called rectal prolapse that comes from being egg bound or laying soft shell eggs and not being able to push them. If you catch it early you can push the insides back in. If you do not It is like a salt water anemone hanging out of them and its really horrific. With or without the help of a vet your bird probably will not survive. I know this from an experience I could have lived without.
     
  8. I have found some of my hens just seem to be picky about whether or not they eat the oyster shell which I give them free choice, so my eggs are a mix of some thin shell and other very hard shell. I suppose I should add it to their feed so they all get it as some have suggested here in other threads too.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Mixing oyster shell with feed = bad idea.
    Then the hens wouldn't have a choice and would get excessive calcium. It's a fine balance of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D3 that is needed. Mixing a single mineral with feed throws that balance out of whack.
    It doesn't take much oyster shell so you probably just don't see them taking it.
    Soft shells are due to many things not just low calcium.

    http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/li...eggs-and-your-small-flock-of-laying-hens.html
     
  10. Yeap, decided to not add it to their feed and leave it free choice.
     

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