Thin Shelled Eggs... an epidemic

MichelleT

Songster
6 Years
Sep 20, 2014
322
217
186
Denver, CO
Hello all! I have 7 layers and 3 pullets close to POL.
1 is older (6-7 years is our best approximation)
1 is 2 years old
the other 5 are a little over a year old.

The older gal has had some thin-shelled eggs as she has aged. The others have been fine... until now... as of about a month ago, I started having multiple thin and broken shells in the nesting boxes. At the time I thought it was due to a lack of calcium as when I integrated the chicks everyone was fed grower feed, with access to oyster shells at all times (which they ate on a regular basis). I thought that once I returned to layer feed (which was about a month ago) things would return to normal. But it has gotten worse. In fact, of the 3 eggs layed today so far, 2 were broken and the third was thin-shelled and broke in my hand.

As I have been processing and problem-solving, I read over the article on egg laying: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/common-egg-quality-problems.65923/

And read this:
Causes are similar to shell less eggs:
- Immature shell gland;
- Nutritional deficiencies, usually lack of calcium, vitamins E, B12 and D as well as phosphorous and selenium;
*** My best guess is the feed. For the longest time I fed a layer feed that was pelleted and 20% protein/3.2-4.2% calcium. When I gave the grower feed I switched over to a different company/feed (Fehringer Farms) - one that is not processed into pellets and is basically seeds and grains. I stayed with this company and feed type when I switched back to layer feed; it is somewhere between 15-16.5% protein but I don't know the calcium content.
*** Vitamin D - sunshine... their run is such that there is sun and shade available at all times of the day, so vitamin D *shouldn't* be a problem.
- Disease such as infectious bronchitis, avian influenza, egg drop syndrome; an internal or external parasite infestation;
*** As far as I can tell, they are fine in every other respect
- Exposure to very high temperatures and/or very high or low humidity levels;
*** It's hot and dry, but - it was way worse during the summer than it is right now
- Egg laid prematurely due to stress or a disturbance during the calcification process;
- Egg laying while molting

***There is a light molt happening in the flock right now, but nothing to write home about

I am about to go out and switch back to the old feed, but I'm wondering if there are any other options... or if anyone has any thoughts about what might be the cause...
.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give!
 
Apr 9, 2019
351
962
172
Maryland
Hello all! I have 7 layers and 3 pullets close to POL.
1 is older (6-7 years is our best approximation)
1 is 2 years old
the other 5 are a little over a year old.

The older gal has had some thin-shelled eggs as she has aged. The others have been fine... until now... as of about a month ago, I started having multiple thin and broken shells in the nesting boxes. At the time I thought it was due to a lack of calcium as when I integrated the chicks everyone was fed grower feed, with access to oyster shells at all times (which they ate on a regular basis). I thought that once I returned to layer feed (which was about a month ago) things would return to normal. But it has gotten worse. In fact, of the 3 eggs layed today so far, 2 were broken and the third was thin-shelled and broke in my hand.

As I have been processing and problem-solving, I read over the article on egg laying: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/common-egg-quality-problems.65923/

And read this:
Causes are similar to shell less eggs:
- Immature shell gland;
- Nutritional deficiencies, usually lack of calcium, vitamins E, B12 and D as well as phosphorous and selenium;

*** My best guess is the feed. For the longest time I fed a layer feed that was pelleted and 20% protein/3.2-4.2% calcium. When I gave the grower feed I switched over to a different company/feed (Fehringer Farms) - one that is not processed into pellets and is basically seeds and grains. I stayed with this company and feed type when I switched back to layer feed; it is somewhere between 15-16.5% protein but I don't know the calcium content.
*** Vitamin D - sunshine... their run is such that there is sun and shade available at all times of the day, so vitamin D *shouldn't* be a problem.
- Disease such as infectious bronchitis, avian influenza, egg drop syndrome; an internal or external parasite infestation;
*** As far as I can tell, they are fine in every other respect
- Exposure to very high temperatures and/or very high or low humidity levels;
*** It's hot and dry, but - it was way worse during the summer than it is right now
- Egg laid prematurely due to stress or a disturbance during the calcification process;
- Egg laying while molting

***There is a light molt happening in the flock right now, but nothing to write home about

I am about to go out and switch back to the old feed, but I'm wondering if there are any other options... or if anyone has any thoughts about what might be the cause...
.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give!
First off - you have a chicken that is 6-7 years old that STILL LAYS? That is um.... I don't really have words for that.
Anyway, some of my chickens had broken shelled eggs. I offered cracked oyster shells but they didn't eat those so I didn't know what else to do. So I forced them eat calcium tablets and their eggs got a bit harder. The problem is, they love to eat the eggs.
Honestly my best guess would be the feed.

Sorry if this wasn't that helpful, I just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks :)
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
21,792
33,717
1,036
southern Michigan
I don't think that the 'seeds and grains' type of diets work out as well as crumbles or pelleted feeds. The birds will pick out the tastiest stuff and leave the rest, and the vitamin/ mineral mix sifts to the bottom and isn't eaten well enough. Getting back to a good all-flock feed with separate oyster shell is best, IMO. I don't feed the lower protein 16% stuff either.
See if things get better over time, at least a few weeks.
Mary
 

MichelleT

Songster
6 Years
Sep 20, 2014
322
217
186
Denver, CO
First off - you have a chicken that is 6-7 years old that STILL LAYS? That is um.... I don't really have words for that.
Anyway, some of my chickens had broken shelled eggs. I offered cracked oyster shells but they didn't eat those so I didn't know what else to do. So I forced them eat calcium tablets and their eggs got a bit harder. The problem is, they love to eat the eggs.
Honestly my best guess would be the feed.

Sorry if this wasn't that helpful, I just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks :)
My old lady does still lay... about 1 egg/week. :)
 

MichelleT

Songster
6 Years
Sep 20, 2014
322
217
186
Denver, CO
I don't think that the 'seeds and grains' type of diets work out as well as crumbles or pelleted feeds. The birds will pick out the tastiest stuff and leave the rest, and the vitamin/ mineral mix sifts to the bottom and isn't eaten well enough. Getting back to a good all-flock feed with separate oyster shell is best, IMO. I don't feed the lower protein 16% stuff either.
See if things get better over time, at least a few weeks.
Mary
Thanks! I can pick up a bag of the old stuff tomorrow. Unfortunately I just bought a 50 pound bag of the new stuff last week. Maybe I'll just use it sparingly and occasionally.
 

Tycine1

Crowing
May 26, 2009
2,121
4,773
431
David, Chiriquí, Panama
The birds will pick out the tastiest stuff and leave the rest, and the vitamin/ mineral mix sifts to the bottom and isn't eaten well enough. Getting back to a good all-flock feed with separate oyster shell is best, IMO.
No need to toss the feed though, you can umph its appeal and protein content by grinding up some dry cat food (typically 30% protein and a good mix of amino acids) and toss that in with raw eggs (ground up shell & all), perhaps some yogurt, and enough water to make a not-soupy porridge. Sometimes just moistening that type of feed is enough to get them to eat the good for them stuff in addition to the 'tasty' bits.
 

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