1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Yolk and shell pieces all over eggs in nesting box.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Caribou girl, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. Caribou girl

    Caribou girl Hatching

    Aug 9, 2016
    Hi All,

    For most of the last week the eggs in the nesting box are covered with egg yolk and some day's bits egg shells mixed in. Has anyone else had this problem? It has been an off and on problem this year. The girls all want to lay in "the box" of the day so I have no idea who is having the problem. Some of the nesting boxes are big enough for more then one chicken because sometimes they all insist on the same box. Everyone seems happy and healthy and no sign of egg bound issues. I am at a loss here. Any ideas?

  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I LOVE your large font! I think you have a hen who has weak shells. Are you supplying extra calcium? Are your girls confined to pen/run? IMO, if birds have access to insects, the shell issue often clears up. I had a girl with weak shell issue, and when I started feeding Japanese Beetles, the issue got better. Not completely cured, but currently better. It's frustrating when you have no idea who the problem hen is. I'm curious. With your screen name, are you from Maine???
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    How many birds?
    How old are they?
    How many nests?
    What and how exactly are you feeding?

    Could be weak shelled eggs getting broken in the nest sharing meelee.....
    .....could be an egg eater, but probably not if you are finding shells, they usually eat those up and all that's left is a wet spot.

    Fake eggs/golf balls in all the nests can help 'spread the love'.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I can see two possibilities. Like the others said, it could be that egg shells are weak so the eggs can be broken by the hens scratching and walking in the nest. So a big question is, do you find thin-shelled eggs. It’s possible all your hens are laying thin-shelled eggs but it is also very possible it’s only one hen. Some hens have problems processing the calcium right for the egg shells. There are other things that can cause a hen to lay a thin-shelled egg. On occasion a hen will lay two eggs in one day. Some are more prone to this that others. Since a hen usually only makes enough shell material to cover one egg a day, often the second egg has a pretty thin shell. You can get egg yolk on the other eggs and the shells scattered, but I sometimes find an egg with just a hole where a claw poked through, leaving a small hole.

    It’s possible something is getting them. Snakes, canines, and humans take the eggs without leaving any broken shell behind but about everything else leaves broken shells. So it’s possible you have a rat, possum, skunk, raccoon, or maybe something else visiting and eating an egg. I’m not sure what you mean by “off and on problem this year”. I’m guessing that means you occasionally find this but not that often. And egg shells are not always mixed in. I’m pretty sure what Aart was referring to was that sometimes the hens will eat broken egg shell, not that anything eating an egg will also eat the egg shell. I find that the other hens don’t always, and I’d say not even usually, eat all the shell. Often there are bits left. Often they don’t eat any shell. Chickens are not known to be consistent.

    I think if it were something big like a possum, skunk, or raccoon eating them they would eat all of the eggs that are there, so you would not be getting much if any egg yolk on the other eggs since those eggs would not be there. A rat, maybe would only eat one. So a rat maybe but I don’t think it likely it’s something else. I think a rat is more likely to open the shell and lick out the contents rather than shatter the egg shell. I’m not comfortable thinking it is a rat, it just doesn’t sound right.

    Another possibility is that your chickens are eating the eggs. It’s perfectly normal for a chicken to eat an egg that is already broken open. That’s not what I call an egg eater. An egg eater is a chicken that purposely opens a perfectly good egg to eat it. I had one of those once. She would open one or two eggs each day to eat them but not bother the others. Some of the other hens helped her eat them after she opened them but never learned to open the eggs themselves, thank goodness. The thing is that mine was opening one or two eggs every day, yours is an off and on problem.

    I’s really hard to guess these things over the internet. It’s often difficult even when you are there looking at it. With it being an off and on problem, my guess is that you have a hen laying a thin-shelled egg, possibly only occasionally, and that egg is getting broken in the nest and eaten by the hens. Sometimes they clean up the egg shells, sometimes not completely. But this is only a guess. It could easily be something totally different.

    These things can be hard. I wish you luck.
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    One further thing I forgot to mention: try increasing their protein AND calcium. If possible, give them some animal protein.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by