Why is only one laying soft-shelled eggs?


10 Years
Aug 13, 2009
Midcoast Maine
I've got 4 hens - 1 2yr old BR and 3 1yr old RIRs. For the most part they're fairly productive as I generally get 3-4 eggs each day.

In the past 5 weeks I've been getting an egg that has an extremely soft shell. It's one hen, (I suspect one of the RIR girls) because she always lays in the same box and she is the only one that lays in that box. The other eggs I get have very thick shells. I've been adding crushed oyster shell for the last 3 weeks (in addition to BOSS to encourage them to eat from the coop and not just what they find outside). Someone is certainly eating from the food dish in the coop, however, her eggs are still thin. I went out tonight to collect eggs and while holding an egg and trying to close the coop door it crushed - frustrates me, but my dog LOVES it!

Anyway - am I not adding enough oyster shell? (I add about 1/2 cup each night.) Or do I need to give it more time to work?

The strange part is that she, and her sisters, have been laying since last October and the problem has only flared up 5 weeks ago and it's just her. How is it that only one is not getting enough calcium when they're all exposed to the exact same environment?
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Your oyster shell should be offered free choice.

Just like people, birds' bodies use up minerals different from one another. So one bird might consume 1 cup of oyster a week, while another will consume 2 cups.

It will take a little bit for the calcium to help the shell.
Lovely...knowing my chickens the ones that DON'T need it will be the ones eating it all up & I'll spend a fortune only to continue having this one hen with soft eggs!

I've never owned an animal that is so frustrating & so endearing at the same time!
I'm having the very same problem. In an earlier thread someone suggested heat as a possible cause. One hen is dropping a thin, soft shelled egg while on the roost every other night. On the in between day she lays a thin shelled egg in the nest. I can see heat being a possibility for me in Mississippi but don't know what your weather is like right now in Maine!!!
I have my oyster shell in a separate dish, always available. Some eat it alot, some don't. They will regulate themselves. You can buy a 50lb bag of oyster shell for around $10. It'll last you forever...
emrys - I think the high today was 65...maybe?!
A warm day here this time of year is usually about 75-80...which I understand is still not considered very hot for chickens. And for the last 2 weeks it's been mid-50's to 60's and raining... otherwise I'd consider that as a reason!

I think I just have one really stubborn hen who doesn't want to eat the one thing she needs!! It works out well for my dog though as she usually gets the egg with her dinner. (I don't dare sell or give them away because they break SOOO easy. My husband tried to use one once and it made such a mess...so for now the dog has her own personal egg provider!
I'll look into that. I paid $4 for a 2 or 2.5 lb bag so the thought of buying a lot and needing a constant supply made my pocketbook shiver. That's from our local feed/hardware store though and I understand that there's a Tractor Supply in a nearby "city" so maybe they'll have it cheaper.
I've got one doing the same thing, out of 14 hens. The shell is so thin the egg usually breaks in the nestbox, although tonight I was able to bring it in the house with just a dent in it - I'll keep it in the fridge and eat it tomorrow for breakfast. It has been blistering hot on and off here over the past two or three weeks (it's lovely cool now, thank goodness!). I definitely notice a drop off in egg production when the heat slams us. I have a bowl of oyster shell available at all times to anyone who wants to eat it out there - I wish she'd find it!!
I've noticed that her eggs are usually broken in her nestbox. At first I thought someone was eating them, but the shell was all still there and most of the yolk - and then when one was finally intact enough to bring in I realized they were so fragile that she couldn't help but break them when she got off the box. Your location has MA & ME...are any of your chickens in ME?

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