Very ill hen, and flock laying shell less eggs :(


In the Brooder
Oct 15, 2015
Christchurch New Zealand
Hi all,

I have a whole world of problems with my hens and I am in desperate need of some advice!

Background: we purchased 6 hens who had entered retirement (2years) from a free range farmer, approx 2 months ago. All the girls were in fairly poor looking condition, I think as a result of over crowding.
We feed the girls the highest quality laying pellets, they have access to fresh water, they get grit and black oil sunflower seeds. Also table scraps (breakfast -left over oats, banana and toast, and tea veg, salad etc).
They seem happy, never stray, are energetic et
The girls are free range, and have a large coop. They are pets and we love them.

Urgent problem: one of the hens (who has been picked on from the beginning) is leaking yellow yoke (?), I thought she may have been egg bound and it has broken. She is lethargic, barely moving, sits most of the day while the others forage. She did eat a small amount of scrap last night, but this morn she has left the coop and only moved a few feet. I gave her a bath and massage yesterday....what else can I do? I don't think she is going to make it....what's the best way to make her comfortable? And if it comes to it...the best way to put her to sleep :(

Secondly: 5 of our 6 girls lay soft or she'll-less eggs!! Some just walk around and plop them out like poop! It's doing my head in, they get the best food, I can't figure out what the issue is.
We have one girl, who is in the best condition, who lays perfect eggs, but the other all lay duds! We must be doing something terribly wrong, please help!
When we first got the chickens we were getting 3-5 good eggs a day, now we get one.

Thanks in advance
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

Sounds like all of them need more calcium to put a shell on. It is possible, being that they were not raised in the best of conditions, they never developed properly. Sometimes birds have genetic issues as well with laying. So if their momma laid a lot of shell less eggs, so they will too.

Get some human calcium. I use Caltrate on my old hens that have a hard time putting on a shell. Each bird is going to get a half a pill daily. Break the pill in half and then break it down a bit more so you can stuff these pieces in raisins. (the birds will think they are getting a treat and never know they are being medicated) 1/2 pill daily and if they are better but still having trouble, use a whole pill. But start with a half. This should take effect within 24 to 48 hours.

As for the one that doesn't feel good, keep her in a warm place for a day. Either bring her inside or put a heat lamp on her. I have an old hen that looks sick when ever she lays yolks. And yes, if this happens at night, the crop backs up and is still full in the morning. The sitting yolk has closed off the intestinal tract out the vent.

So keep this one warm and get this calcium in her. She should perk up within a day of getting calcium in her and these yolks to get shells on them.

Keep us posted!
Thank you so so much! This is great advice! I've been scouring the Internet and haven't been able to find anything as useful as this. I'll give Paddy (our sick hen) a bath shortly and bring her inside.
This morn she just keeps falling asleep on her feet and yellow gunk is just oozing out of her, she's pooping clear and yellow and has what looks like cooked egg stuck to her bottom. So sad to see.

I hope the calcium tabs work
I gave the calcium tabs this mor, unfortunately I couldn't get paddy to take one. She was pretty ill last night, refusing to perch, she just sat facing the corner at the bottom of the coop. She's left lots of gunk behind and her bottom is a mess.

My top hen is also unwell :( she is lethargic and has lots of watery white poop.



Photo one is paddy's mess. And photo 2 is emerald and her most recent poop. She came to us without her feathers, we think she was over mated?
Have you wormed them recently? If not, I would get them wormed ASAP. This may not just be a laying issue.

Safeguard Liquid Goat Wormer, 1/2 ml orally for 3 or 4 days, repeat in 10 days.


Safeguard Equine Paste. A pea sized dolop on a tiny piece of bread for 3 days in a row, repeat in 10 days.


Wazine in the water. 1 oz Wazine to one gallon. Have them drink it for 3 days straight. Repeat in 10 days.

If you can't get a bird to take meds, you can put any kind of med in baby food. Sometimes you need to crush it into a fine powder, depending on what it is you are administering. Mix the meds in to 1/2 ml of peas, beans or some sort of fruit baby food. Load this into the back of the empty syringe, no needle, and squeeze this under the tongue or in front of the tongue on the lower mandible. (beak)

After the worming, I would use the calcium. Keep the sick bird warm, but I would worm them ASAP if you haven't done so in a while.

You might also consider Corid in case she has Coccidiosis. It is possible. Never hurts to throw everything you can at a bird until something works.

If all else fails, try antibiotics. I always go to these last as usually worms or cocci are the more common ailments. I have had mystery diseases go through my flock and I just keep trying everything until something does the trick.

Keep us posted!!
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The hen with vent discharge sounds like she might have vent gleet.
For the shell-less eggs, it could be a lack of calcium or it could be just a few random hiccups in the egg production process due to molting.
For the hen missing feathers, it could be seasonal molting. Stop feeding all the 'goodies' and stick to high protein treats like mealworms. Switching to a grower feed (higher in protein than layer feed) may also help get them into better shape.
X2 on the above post as well. If she has vent gleet, her butt feathers will stink badly. Almost fishy. Vent gleet stinks horribly. You can use probiotics in the water for this and even 1/2 ml to 1 ml vaginal cream orally will help clear up this yeast infection in the intestinal tract.
Wowsers!! Ok will visit the feed shop. I didn't notice a stink on paddy but my dog won't leave her alone and is sniffing everywhere she has been which is unusual, so perhaps she does. I'll look fleet up. Thanks

We are in summer here, had our hottest day yesterday of mud 30 deg Celsius is this matters.
This is why adding your location to your profile is important.
Wowsers!! Ok will visit the feed shop. I didn't notice a stink on paddy but my dog won't leave her alone and is sniffing everywhere she has been which is unusual, so perhaps she does. I'll look fleet up. Thanks

We are in summer here, had our hottest day yesterday of mud 30 deg Celsius is this matters.
That rules out the shell-less eggs being caused by molting. Definitely get them wormed, and stop giving extra treats. Only give them their feed for now. Layer pellets should have enough calcium for good egg production, but if they are eating more treats than feed, they aren't getting enough of that calcium. Sudden heat waves can affect production.

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