Did you notice how your chickens are laying soft eggs and are worried about it? There are a variety of factors affecting the type of eggs chickens produce. In this article, I will help you understand the reason behind getting soft eggs from your chickens and how to do something about it.
How do you know if they're soft eggs?
Soft eggs go by different names, mostly describing how it looks.
- Shell-less egg
- Softshell egg
- Partially shelled eggs
- Rubber eggs
In some cases, chickens lay eggs that don’t have shells – only the egg yolk wrapped by its albumen and the thin membrane. In other cases, your chicken might lay an egg that has a shell but its easily cracked.
Why are having shells important in eggs?
The shell is formed as a form of protection for eggs. This sturdy layer keeps bacteria and dangerous pathogens from invading the inside (yolk) of the egg. If hens lay eggs without shells, there is a good possibility that the eggs are carrying germs from the outside dirt.
Thin-shelled eggs are still a good source of protein despite being defective. If the eggs are not shattered, you can feed it to other animals in your homestead like pigs.
It is possible, however, that laying soft eggs will happen only once and not all the time. Let’s go through the factors you need to consider when raising chickens for eggs.
The first thing to check from your flock is its age. Soft eggs or eggs missing shells are common to first-time layers than older hens. The biological framework of younger hens is still undeveloped and needs a little more time to get used to laying.
Another reason is not enough calcium in your hens’ diet. We have a tendency of feeding grower rations to young hens while older ones get layer ration. Grower feeds have less calcium as compared to layers. Your hens will need enough of this nutrient to support the building of egg shells.
If you notice your hens, young or old, laying soft eggs for the first time, switch them to a layer ration. Most of the time, this works and you will notice the subsequent eggs of your hens are now normal and healthy. Otherwise, feed your chickens with a calcium supplement to support their growth.
Note that the bodies of young hens are not accustomed to supporting eggshell growth. Their bodies apply their calcium nutrient intake elsewhere. However, as they grow older, they will need more calcium to produce eggs. If they can’t get enough from their diet, their bodies will force to draw it somewhere else like their bones. Weak bones can lead to bigger problems hence, supplements are essential.
Two of the highly recommended calcium supplements for your flock are:
- Oyster shells
- Toasted eggshells
A calcium deficiency in your hens’ diet is not something to heavily worry about. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with your chickens as long as they are healthy and starts laying normal eggs moving forward.
A SIGN OF STRESS
Studies have shown that stress can be a factor in laying soft eggs from hens. It can develop from the type of environment they live in and the change of seasons and temperatures in your location.
There are several reasons for chickens to feel stressed based on their living conditions. Some states have regulations on the size of the coop you can keep to make sure your chickens grow and stay healthy. If they are too many in numbers and packed in a small coop, bacteria and diseases can develop and spread quickly. There is also stress involved in chickens mating too frequently.
The ideal space for chickens to roam around is 10 square feet. There should be a good rooster-to-hen ratio to avoid your hens’ ovaries from getting stressed out.
I have learned that weather can be a big factor in the type of eggs hens lay. Warm temperatures usually result in the production of thin-shelled eggs compared to reproduction during cold weather. Chickens feel the intense heat of summer with a natural body temperature of around 106 degrees. Their bodies are not equipped with an effective cooling mechanism like us humans do. The amount of heat absorbed by their bodies conditionally affects their laying abilities.
Making sure that your chickens are well hydrated during dry and hot months with shaded areas where they can rest throughout the day can help relieve them from the heat. Juicy treats such as frozen fruits and mealworms are good for hydration and add to a healthy diet. Calcium supplements are advisable to help support both their physical and reproductive health.
Hens laying soft eggs can also indicate bacterial or viral infection. I highly recommend taking your animals to the vet whenever they show symptoms of illnesses for proper diagnosis and treatment. Based on my experience, my hens start laying normal and healthy eggs again once the illness is resolved.
Sometimes… It just happens!
There are cases when you see a single soft egg in a batch without any explanation. Some things naturally happen beyond our logic and what do we do? We just let it happen. If we follow science, we will need more than one soft egg in successive batches, or get all soft eggs, to have an idea of what’s wrong. Just make sure to keep an eye on your flock’s behavior, especially their health. Experience is the best teacher and eventually, you’ll get used to the things on your farm.