Tuesday, 29 April 2014

My Hen is Laying Deformed Thin Shelled Eggs, What Can I Do?

With the passing of the Easter weekend, it's possible you spent more of your time eating chocolate eggs as opposed to real ones. Personally my Easter egg eating consisted of watching my two younger nieces destroying a bowl of Mini Eggs (of which I was allowed none), having to purchase my own egg and finally an ill conceived idea, regarding a deep fat fryer and a Creme Egg.

Quail Eggs
Quail Eggs from the FSF Quail
Now that all the debauched chocolate eating madness is over, you are more likely to be enjoying an omelette, but we have had a few phone calls over the last few days regarding deformed or abnormal eggs.

A soft shell egg is something that you will encounter while keeping chickens, in fact new layers or old hens coming off lay often lay a soft shell egg. If it is infrequent then there is really nothing to worry about, however if it is a frequent and repeated it is most likely a sign of calcium deficiency in your hens. If this is the case, then you will need to feed your girls more oyster shell grit (a great source of calcium) or check that the layers pellets that they are getting is of a good quality. Equally Cal-Boost, a concentrated mixture of calcium and vitamin D3, which when added to a hens drinking water helps improve egg shell quality, thickness and strength. It's also excellent for aiding with shell fractures and hairline cracks or rough textured shells.

Similarly, disease, such as infectious bronchitis, can result in a soft shelled egg. A trip to the vet can often cure this, however if you are producing eggs for breeding, then the ones from the infected hen should obviously not be used.

Cock Egg at Flyte so Fancy
A Wind or Cock Egg
When a hen first starts to lay, they can often produce strangely shaped or odd eggs. Equally as a hen reaches the end of her egg cycle, her egg shells can become thin and lighter in colour and as the shell is weaker can be misshapen. The most common form of a deformed egg is for it to have a thicker band around the middle, this is formed when a sudden shock to the hen causes the egg to stop and extra layers of calcium are deposited before it continues on. These eggs are still fine for eating, but should not be used for hatching.

Chickens can also lay wind or cock eggs, which are very small eggs with nothing but egg whites inside, when no yolk has been released. The opposite is a double yoker, where in the reverse, too many yolks have been released into one egg. Neither can be used for hatching.

There are a few other reasons why a hen might not be laying an egg. Are your chickens getting enough day light. While they like to nest somewhere dark for laying an egg, they need plenty of daylight to get going. We recently spoke to a customer who was having terrible trouble with her hens not laying. After putting our thinking caps on it transpired that the customer had covered her pen in a black sheet roofing, taking the light levels down to almost nothing, hence her hens wern't laying. If you are going to cover your pen with a protective roofing then make sure it is a translucent one, so you have the best of both worlds.

A silly point, but worth making, is your bird actually hen. Through ignorance or deception of the breeder you are purchasing from, you may have been sold a cockerel as a hen. Finally diet, a chickens diet needs to be closely regimented. If a hen is fed too much or things that are bad for them, for example excessive levels of protein through too many mealworms, it can quickly result in them becoming obese and no longer laying. A healthy diet is important for healthy eggs.

Hens in the Field at Flyte so Fancy

I hope that this has been helpful to anyone who might of come across a weird shaped egg in their nest box and as always if you have any questions leave a comment or give us a ring on 01300 345229.

Thanks for Reading

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