May 29, 2019
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420
151
Southwest VA
Hi folks,

HISTORY: I'm hoping someone can help me deduce what's going on over here. Two of my 19 month old hens--a GLW and BO--had been going through a pretty hardcore molt since a couple weeks ago. They'd been separated into their own pen, to help keep them from the drama of the rest of the flock, and because they are also best buds. I also noticed they were looking droopy and eating less, so I wanted to keep a closer eye on them and give them support as needed. Neither had been laying for weeks, however the BO recently started laying again and perking up. The GLW is still seeming a bit off and definitely not into normal feed, though she'll eat mashes with greek yogurt or a bit of tuna mixed in. She also forages well while free ranging. Both have no history of egg laying issues, though neither have ever been my most productive hens.

MYSTERY: Yesterday I noticed egg yolk-stained shavings in their coop with no egg. My BO had an egg yolk stained beak and feet, so I assumed it was hers. However, her vent and surrounding feathers looked completely clean and she was pooping normal poops. So, I honed in on my GLD, who seemed to have been the droopier of the two and had yet to perk up/start laying. Upon inspection, she also had a very clean vent with no evidence of egg material in the surrounding area. She pooped normal albeit small poops (because she's still eating less). A few hours later my BO laid a large, strong-shelled egg, so I figured it must definitely have been the GLW.

Today neither laid nor were they hanging in the nesting box. I then went out for about two hours, and upon returning, found another pool of egg yolk material in the nesting box (of course they wait till their helicopter mom is gone!). This time neither had evidence of yolk on them--not their feet, beaks, or vents. My GLD had been looking droopy/sleepy all day and I did noticed she was very perked up this evening: bright red and a decently full crop, running around free ranging. Not sure if that means she relieved herself of an egg.

CURRENT DEDUCTIONS: My biggest fear is an egg breaking inside one of my hens, likely the GLW, but the lack of egg material in the vent area makes that (I hope) unlikely. I worry about EYP, which I've dealt with before, but again no abnormalities around the vent or regarding poop color. I'm thinking that my GLW is perhaps laying soft shelled or shell-less eggs--probably because she hasn't been eating enough feed to sustain normal egg laying. My BO then likely gobbles them up, because she's done that before when accidentally breaking one.

IN CONCLUSION: This mystery is driving my anxiety through the roof. I just got one of my hens through a long battle with EYP and she was finally doing better. I'm hoping that there's not a new issue brewing but that seems to be the way this last year has gone (one thing after another). I will say that both my girls, the GLW in particular, have had a pretty rough time with their molts. I'm glad to see my BO is at least making a come back.

Please let me know what your thoughts might be, and/or if you have suggestions going forward. I'm thinking about providing my GLW with a calcium supplement, but not sure if that's good to do during a molt, or if I could discourage any egg laying. Also: the hens were switch to purina flock raiser feed last week, supplemented by free choice oyster shell. Thank you!!
 

Willow2253

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Dec 6, 2019
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If you haven’t already, give them free choice calcium. I’m in kind of a similar situation at the moment. I have a RIR that’s been leaving egg puddles in nests every once in a while, but not laying consistently and not molting. Sometimes there will be some soft eggshell, and a couple of times she’s had a thin shell jumbo sized egg. Her behavior is normal and there’s no other sighs of illness though. My current theory on her is that she’s stopped eating supplemental calcium, so I’ve been trying to find ways to encourage her to eat more.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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Also: the hens were switch to purina flock raiser feed last week, supplemented by free choice oyster shell.
Good!
Forget all that other stuff.
They need to eat the feed suffused with the vitamins/minerals/amino acids.
It will be good for growing feathers

I'd guess a soft shelled egg was laid, easily broken thus fair game for eating, IMO.
You can get some funky eggs around molting time.
They can also act rather lethargic for at least part of the molting time.
 
May 29, 2019
369
420
151
Southwest VA
If you haven’t already, give them free choice calcium. I’m in kind of a similar situation at the moment. I have a RIR that’s been leaving egg puddles in nests every once in a while, but not laying consistently and not molting. Sometimes there will be some soft eggshell, and a couple of times she’s had a thin shell jumbo sized egg. Her behavior is normal and there’s no other sighs of illness though. My current theory on her is that she’s stopped eating supplemental calcium, so I’ve been trying to find ways to encourage her to eat more.
Let me know if you figure out a way to get her to eat her supplemental calcium! I do leave free choice oyster shell out, but it is largely ignored by the two chickens in question (the others eat theirs no problem and lay like champs). These two girls have always been the oddballs; hence their nicknames "Thelma & Louise." They don't like to conform to chicken norms!
 
May 29, 2019
369
420
151
Southwest VA
Good!
Forget all that other stuff.
They need to eat the feed suffused with the vitamins/minerals/amino acids.
It will be good for growing feathers

I'd guess a soft shelled egg was laid, easily broken thus fair game for eating, IMO.
You can get some funky eggs around molting time.
They can also act rather lethargic for at least part of the molting time.
Thanks! I've noticed the GLW will eat more feed if it's in mash form, so I've been doing that for the time being. The BO seems to be getting along fine at this point. I think you are right about the soft shells/no shell. I just hope they don't break inside of her (I assume I would've seen some eggy looking content on their vents or the feathers around their vents if this were the case--so I remain optimistic about that).

Would you recommend giving her a calcium supplement to get her back in the groove? She's not one to go for the oyster shells :(
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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I've noticed the GLW will eat more feed if it's in mash form, so I've been doing that for the time being.
Feeding it wetted is fine. I'd try to ease her into going for dry tho.

Would you recommend giving her a calcium supplement to get her back in the groove? She's not one to go for the oyster shells
That's tough one. Might drop a few pieces of OS on top of her mash, get her used to it. I've done that with new pullets, and also spreading some OS long with scratch grains on the ground.
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
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Let me know if you figure out a way to get her to eat her supplemental calcium! I do leave free choice oyster shell out, but it is largely ignored by the two chickens in question (the others eat theirs no problem and lay like champs).
If they need supplementing, since you know exactly which birds are the problem, isolate them for a private breakfast. 2-3x a week serve a small bowl (like 1 Tbsp is fine) of wet or fermented feed with oyster shell mixed in. If they don't like chunks of oyster shell, crush it up or use the powdery remnants from bottom of the bag. Should only take them a minute to eat and after that they're free to go.

If it works you should see results in a week or two, and you can try reducing it to 1-2x a week and should hopefully continue getting good results.
 

Willow2253

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Dec 6, 2019
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I’ve started doing something similar to that, I’ve been mixing oyster with a little wet dog food since it’s my girl’s favorite food to steal and she eats it. Haven’t seen results yet but it’s only been a few days since I started that.
 
May 29, 2019
369
420
151
Southwest VA
If they need supplementing, since you know exactly which birds are the problem, isolate them for a private breakfast. 2-3x a week serve a small bowl (like 1 Tbsp is fine) of wet or fermented feed with oyster shell mixed in. If they don't like chunks of oyster shell, crush it up or use the powdery remnants from bottom of the bag. Should only take them a minute to eat and after that they're free to go.

If it works you should see results in a week or two, and you can try reducing it to 1-2x a week and should hopefully continue getting good results.
This is great--thank you! Two days now and no more yolk stained spots, nor eggs from the hens in question. Not sure if that's good or bad. I assume if they're coming out of a molt it may not be regular for a bit.

I have noticed they are both eating more of their feed now wuthout all kinds of gymnastics on my part. Which is heartening.
 
May 29, 2019
369
420
151
Southwest VA
I’ve started doing something similar to that, I’ve been mixing oyster with a little wet dog food since it’s my girl’s favorite food to steal and she eats it. Haven’t seen results yet but it’s only been a few days since I started that.
Keep us posted. Canned tuna in water has helped a couple of mine through the roughest patches of their molts. Just a little bit a couple times a week perks em up.
 

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