One of the best parts about raising chickens is gathering the fresh eggs they lay. But every now and then, you might notice that your hens are laying soft eggs, which are also called shell less eggs because—you guessed it!—they don’t have shells on them. Fortunately, you can fix this problem by finding out what’s causing your chickens to lay soft eggs. Here are some of the most common causes of chickens laying soft eggs.
Do you have really young layers? If so, that could be your issue. Young chickens often don’t get enough calcium in their diets, and as a result, they lay soft eggs. Grower feeds that are given to chickens when they are young don’t have as much calcium as regular layer feed. By switching them to a layer ration that contains more calcium, you will give them the nutrients they need to start creating shells around their eggs.
A hen’s calcium needs are increased by age and by warm weather. Hens that lay soft eggs may be telling you they need an additional calcium supplement. Offer your hens crushed oyster shells in a free choice hopper so they can select as much or as little as they need. The occasional soft-shelled egg, especially if laid when production peaks in spring, is common and not anything to worry about.
Too Many Treats
Are your hens getting too many treats? Any dietary imbalance can result in soft-shelled and shell-less eggs. Too many treats or kitchen scraps can disrupt the best nutrition plan. So can feeding too much corn or scratch grain. Chickens love scratch — a mixture of grains, one of which is usually cracked corn. Think of scratch as being in the same food group as candy and you are likely to offer it sparingly, if at all. Making sure your flock gets a balanced diet is of utmost importance for the successful production of eggs.
Maybe your hen doesn’t feel well? When a chicken is sick, its body devotes all available nutrients to trying to make the chicken well. These are the same nutrients that are needed to develop eggs with strong shells. If a hen lays less than her usual number of eggs, and the few eggs she does lay have soft shells, she may have a viral disease. Once you get proper treatment for your hen, and her health improves, she should start laying healthy eggs again.
Are your chickens under excessive stress? You might wonder what chickens have to worry about, but the truth is that they encounter plenty of things throughout a given day that can cause their stress levels to spike. Bullying and henpecking are common causes of stress. When a great deal of bullying is directed toward a particular hen, the stress can interfere with egg formation or even cause the hen to stop laying eggs altogether.
The threat of a predator prowling in the area can cause stress. Poorly maintained living conditions can create a stressful environment. Even too much or too little heat can stress chickens out. Reducing stress factors in their environment is often all that’s needed to help your chickens lay healthy eggs with robust shells.