4 Reasons Chickens Laying Soft Shelled Eggs
A soft egg does not look like a normal hard-shelled egg. Instead, it is laid with only a thin membrane that acts as its shell, yolk, and albumen (egg white). Soft eggs in general have intensely thin shells that can easily be cracked at a quick pressing using fingers.
Good quality eggs are presumed to have a shell that can resist the layer’s weight and transportation from the nesting boxes to the consumers.
It is not always a guarantee that every egg laid will have the normal tough shell. Quite a few are found with soft shells. So, if you are keeping chickens, you must have come across soft eggs on several occasions.
These types of eggs are also referred to as shell-less eggs, partially shelled eggs, rubber eggs, or soft shell eggs. They are an indication of different factors such as the age of your chickens, the diet of your birds, and some illnesses.
Most of these factors are well beyond your control. Only the diet is within your ability and you can effectively use it to help your birds produce healthy eggs. Some factors such as illnesses and stress are of great concern when it comes to the quality of eggs.
Read on to have a good idea of why your chickens might be laying soft eggs.
Your Chicken is Very Young
The age of your chickens can determine the quality of eggs they are producing. Young hens or pullets are more likely to produce soft shell eggs compared to older hens. These soft-shelled eggs get bad quicker than hard-shelled ones.
One of the reasons why your hens might be laying soft-shelled eggs could be that their bodies are not yet used to laying eggs, so they have not quite caught up with this process. In this sense, you should give your young layers some time for their bodies to get used to laying eggs.
Make sure to provide them with a well-balanced diet to help them acquire essential nutrients that their bodies need to lay healthy eggs. Otherwise, you may consult your local veterinarian to find a lasting solution to the production of well-developed eggs within your flock of layers.
Calcium Deficiency in Chickens
The likely reason why your hens may lay soft-shelled eggs is that they still don’t have enough calcium. Calcium deficiency can result in laying low-quality eggs with poorly developed shells. Besides, lack of calcium comes with other complications.
For your chickens to produce good quality eggs, they must draw a substantial amount of calcium from another source other than their usual diet. Your hens will certainly obtain their calcium nutrient from their bones. Once their bones lack enough calcium, your chickens will develop serious health complications that may shorten their lifespan.
To prevent your chickens from laying soft-shelled eggs, you need to provide them calcium-rich foods. You should not wait until your flock of layers starts to display symptoms and signs of calcium deficiency.
Just provide them with enough quantities of this essential nutrient. If possible, look for available supplements to help supplement their calcium requirements organically.
In this regard, crushed oyster shells can be a great source of calcium for your flock of layers. Another type of organic calcium supplement is a few crushed eggs shells. Look for good quality eggshells, pound or squash them before feeding your chickens.
Your Chicken is Stressed
Stress from various sources can make your layers produce poor-quality eggs. Due to stress, your hen can lay eggs that have soft shells.
The stress can include the following:
1. Heat Stress
You may have asked yourself why your hen laid a soft egg in the warm weather condition. The main reason could be heat stress. Hot weather is one of the major factors that contribute to the production of thin-shelled eggs by layers. As a matter of fact, heat is too extreme to layers than the cold weather condition.
Naturally, chickens are warm-blooded animals. Their average temperate can reach around 106℉. However, chickens do not have an efficient cooling mechanism found in humans.
This means that they cannot regulate their body temperature as humans do through sweating. As a result, they end up feeling the heat more than humans, leading to heat stress.
Keep in mind that hot weather can possibly lead to serious dietary deficiencies given that chickens depend on available nutrients to overcome heat stress than what they use to lay healthy eggs.
Excess heat can temporarily have a profound effect on their laying ability. While there is nothing you can do to change the prevailing weather conditions, you can still help your birds stay cool and comfortable. Provide enough water and create a cool environment for them especially during the day.
Offer nutritious treats such as frozen mealworms, frozen vegetables, and frozen fruits to help them withstand heat on hot days. Ensure that each hen has access to calcium supplements to enable them to produce hard-shelled eggs.
2. Stress Caused by Rooster
Despite being part of the entire flock, roosters can be stressful toward your hens. They may cause stress by over-mating with hens. Sometimes they can chase hens around, making them distressed.
As a result, the hens may produce eggs with thin shells since they don’t have enough time to relax when roosters are all over them. To solve this problem, make sure to isolate your hens because they don’t need roosters to lay eggs.
3. Stress Caused by the Flock
Too many chickens can stress your laying hens, especially if you confine them in one place. Your hens may not be comfortable when you let them share a small coop or run with other chickens.
Their living conditions may deny them an opportunity to develop high-quality eggs. This happens quite often when the stress from other flock members causes the calcium in their bodies to get diverted from creating strong eggshells to taking care of their bodily health. Also, the issue of stress from the flock can negatively impact your chicken’s lifespan.
Your Chicken is Sick
When you see a soft egg, take your time to find out if your hen is sick. Soft eggs are part of the sick chicken symptoms. Usually, a sick hen uses her dietary nutrients to overcome her illness. When this happens, all the available nutrients including calcium supplements will be used to take care of the body but not to develop a strong eggshell.
A soft eggshell can be a sign of bacterial infection, a virus, bumblefoot, trauma, or other poultry illnesses. If you discover that your chicken is sick, you should look for a vet to help you with the diagnosis in addition to recommending a proper treatment plan. Once your chickens’ sickness is resolved, they will start producing healthy and strong shelled eggs.
Chicken Laying two Soft Eggs a Day – Why?
It is possible for your chicken to lay two soft eggs in one day. Such cases are common where chickens are not fed on calcium-rich diets. However, calcium is not the only essential nutrients necessary for the production of eggs with good hard shells.
Other nutrients that your chickens may need to lay healthy eggs with fully-developed shells include minerals, vitamins, and acids. All these nutrients are needed to help utilize the available calcium.
On the other hand, you should avoid giving your birds too many treats because they can offset their usual balanced ration. Therefore, it is recommended to balance your chickens’ overall diet before introducing supplements. Doing so will help them lay high-quality hard-shelled eggs.
Can You Eat a Soft Shell Egg?
You can eat a soft-shelled egg only when its membrane is fully intact. The membrane should also be slightly elastic and appearing like a clear film lining that protects the entire egg.
At the same time, the membrane must be inside the softshell. Such an egg is just the same as the normal egg with a tough shell because its membrane is still intact.
Do Older Hens Lay Soft Eggs?
Yes. Older chickens can also lay soft or thin-shelled eggs due to a number of reasons. Calcium deficiency is the first reason that may cause them to produce poorly developed eggs. Ensure that their diet contains enough calcium. If possible feed them on calcium supplements such as oyster shells.
Your older chickens may lay rubber eggs when subjected to heat stress, rooster stress, environmental stress, and sickness. All these factors compel your chicken to use the available calcium to maintain their bodily health during such stressful moments rather than developing eggs with a tough, strong shell.
More often than not, chickens lay soft eggs. Many factors may contribute so much to your layers producing eggs with soft shells as explained above. Maybe your chicken is not yet mature enough to produce well-developed eggs or it is lacking essential minerals and vitamins that promote the development of good quality eggs.
Environmental factors such as heat can also determine the quality of eggs. But in most cases, stress by roosters and other flock members causes hens to lay eggs with soft shells.
With this information at the back of your mind, you can easily address the problem by taking the necessary steps at the right time to improve the quality of eggs on your farm.