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#15240 - 09/12/04 12:09 AM Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Today was an odd one egg-wise. After weeks of normal and nice sized eggs, out of the blue I got a very tiny one. I have already SEARCHed and found it happens occasionally. I'm cool with it.
I only mention this in case it has anything to do with the following: This evening I notice one of my girls acting different. Slow, quiet, not really eating, and unable to get to the roost. She got to the day-rooast board and stayed there. I went to check on her after about 90 minutes. There beneath her was a whole soft-shelled egg. I removed it and spoke softly to her. She turned around and so I checked her vent. It was kind of 'drippy' wet. I assumed that was from the egg. I gently felt her underside and plop..into my hand a shell-less egg! I became very concerned. About an hour later I checked on the girls again. On the night roost board was another girl whose vent was 'drippy' and there beneath her a shell-less egg. I became alarmed!
The girls get oyster shell, but I have been thinking about a suppliment to add to their water. They are 6 months old. They have been laying since July 2nd. They have safe housing and a penned yard. No rooster in with them. Plenty of room and nest boxes. Layer pellets. Plenty of water.
The first girl is still on the lower day roost board, which I would expect is normal since she would not likely relocate after dark. But I think she still doesn't seem 'right'. It's hard to tell and will be until the morning.
Is she egg bound? Or was she egg bound? What should I do, if anything?

Thank you-


#15241 - 09/12/04 02:28 AM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Sympathys Collective. I'm getting this too from one of my pair of hens. Similar age, similar time on lay, a great start and then splot, spit, and splat! I'm tired of picking up these grotesque messes from the nest or under her roost. I tried feeding apple cider vinigar, and I thought she'd sorted out, since I got a run of eggs with shells - twisted, mishapen eggs at first and then about three bog standard, if slightly paler shells than before, but she's been back on her old bad form for the last five days, and spending a lot of time mooching on the nest to squeeze out what looks like spilled albumen. I've changed the layer's mash I feed and offer smashed up oyster shells, which she doesn't seem to eat.

Not sure where we go from here.

#15242 - 09/12/04 04:25 AM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?
Sandy C. Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 04/01/04
Posts: 278
Loc: Australia
TC and Clucker
I think what is happening to your girls is that it is taking so long for her to pass the soft shelled egg another one is moving down and getting stuck behind it

Below I have posted a set of instruction that I give to people who have hens that are egg bound

I would also suggest you start her on a diet high in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D
The vitamin D is necessary for her to absorb the calcium and phosphorus to help with egg shell formation

This can be achieved by giving
1/4 teaspoon Calcium supplement or 2 tablespoons yoghurt
1/4 teaspoon Cod liver oil or 1 x egg yolk
1 teaspoon honey
AD & E Powder sprinkled over top
Mix all together with some rolled oats and allow the bird to eat it at her leisure
Discard after 12 hours in hot weather (it may go off)

Supply other food and fresh clean water also

Egg bound hens
A hen is said to be egg bound when she fails to lay her egg
This is a common condition, and may result from inflammation of the oviduct, malformed or double yolker egg, or a too large egg in a young pullet

The bird seems very restless
She will drink little and eat little
She will tend to stand all hunched up
She visits the nest regularly in an attempt to lay her egg
Hew oviduct may end up protrude due to excessive pushing by her to eject the egg; internal haemorrhage or exhaustion may occur and the fowl may die
She may smell badly
Her vent will look quite red and protrude
She may have faecal matter that has built up behind the egg, if you see white liquid that will be her urates trying to pass (urine in chickens)

Sit her in a tub of warm soapy water
Make sure the vent is submerged for about 30 minutes, this may seem like a long time, but you have to relax the vent area and make is subtle for the egg to pass through, it really does help the hen, 85% of the time this will be all that you will need to do for her and the egg will pass out with a little push from her
You can rub some lubricant around the vent area if you think that may help too, KY jelly, petroleum jelly, Vaseline or Olive Oil all work fine.
Make sure you isolate her from the other hens, or they will peck at her vent causing more damage

Put her into an isolation cage, put plenty of news paper down first and then put heated towels down they will act like a heat pad for her, no drafts when she is wet or she will catch a chill
You can heat up towels in your microwave, works a treat
If you have a heat pad that would be even better, put plenty of towels over it or it will get messy
Leave her for a little while to see if she passes the egg, if not, repeat the warm water and soap again

Some people just use the heating pads, this sometimes seems to relax the muscles and allow the egg to slip out

If this doesnít work, you may have to resort to removing the egg manually, not a nice task, and she will complain about what you are doing bitterly, you will need two people to do this task

Using KY jelly, Petroleum jelly or Vaseline, insert your finger in the vent
With your other hand you can press gently on her abdomen moving the egg down the oviduct towards the cloaca
Once you can see the egg, if it wonít pass, then rupture the egg and gently remove all the shell
Some have suggested you use a sharp instrument, I would not recommend this at all it could result in causing the hen internal injuries
The shell of the egg will be very sharp when broken and could also damage the chicken internally
Once you have broken the shell, make sure you remove every particle carefully
The cloaca should then be washed with a weak warm water/salt solution, this is to make sure all the egg contents and shell has been removed from inside the hen, if it isnít it could cause bacteria to start growing inside her, and then youíve got an even bigger problem to solve

Once the egg has ejected you will want to keep an eye on her for a while
There may be another egg backed up in her oviduct system, especially if she lays an egg every day or every other day

Sometimes they absorb the egg, but this is very unlikely and very unusual
If you canít find the egg and it has gone from the hen, more than likely she has eaten it shell and all

If it has ruptured inside her, you should look for small pieces of shell, or evidence of any cuts around the vent area
Just remember while your looking and sticking your finger in places she would prefer you didnít, the egg shells can be quite sharp and may cut you and her
If you do find any cuts around her cloaca, rinse with hydrogen peroxide
Watch her for listlessness, dull eyes, and signs of fever
Infection can come on pretty quick

Keep a close eye on her, this could happen again to her and she will need immediate action to fix the problem

How to help prevent the hen from laying any more eggs
If there is any small prolapse gently push it back into the chicken with your fingers.
The chicken should then be put on a maintenance diet of wheat and water and put in a dark cage.
Leave the hen there for a week.

However, it is important to restrict the chickens diet to maintenance only for possibly a couple of months. This does work!! Alternative to maintenance diet is feeding the chicken enough to keep it alive, moving and keeping warm plus enough extra feed for it to produce eggs.

You may find that by reducing the feed it brings on a forced molt

By reducing feed intake so that the bird has just enough feed to keep it alive, moving and keeping warm you are feeding for maintenance only. The chicken will not lay eggs and so give it the best chance of recovery.

#15243 - 09/12/04 05:00 AM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Thanks Sandy, just one thing - what's AD & E powder please?

I don't think mine is egg bound, she does get out eggs every day, even though they are a mess. The other one is a star - she puts a nice brown egg out every day. Just being called for bacon and eggs by my wife... LOL.


#15244 - 09/12/04 06:14 AM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Thanks, too!
I am not certain I understand what 'egg bound' is or isn't. After doing a SEARCH I am just a little bit confused; it seems the info I read was conflicting. What, in lay-man's terms is it? Also, what should I ask for exactly as far as suppliments?
It's nearly time to let the girls out for the morning. I'll post my girls condition if there are any changes.
please note: This is the first time I have not looked forward to going out to the coop. I have a bad feeling.


#15245 - 09/12/04 08:29 AM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Usually my 'feelings' are accurate, but I think they are affected by worry.
ALL is well in the coop! laugh
It's almost difficult to tell which girl wasn't right last night. When I entered the coop, they pooled around my feet and so it was impossible to count them. (something I have been doing since the day I got them.) I had a flashlight and was scanning the floor for..for..well you know. I opened their little door and out they all ran, making their happy little sounds.
Whew! I nearly wept with relief.

But all of that doesn't change what did happen and what I need to do to prevent any future problems.


#15246 - 09/12/04 04:52 PM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?
Sandy C. Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 04/01/04
Posts: 278
Loc: Australia
Hi TC & Clucker

AD & E Powder... is vitamin A D and E... its a vitamin supplement powder you can sprinkle on to the food of the hens

If you asked for a multi vitamin supplement to anyone or place that sells things for poultry they should be able to help you.. or you could purchase these products over the internet.... not sure where you could buy them as I live in Australia

If your hens are not egg bound... then they most definately need extra calcium in their diet, this can be easily achieved by feeding some calcium powder or yoghurt mixed into their dry feed

They would also need to be given vitamin D.. without this the calcium can't be absorbed by the hens... in a lot a cases this is what the problem is with hens laying soft shelled eggs, giving vitmain D powder or cold liver oil (1/4 teasoon) is all that is necessary to achieve this

The small egg you described TC, these are really small and most do not have a yolk in them... they are called of all things "fart eggs", sounds a bit grose doesn't it.. what happens is that a small piece of tissue or something starts the eggs not a yolk... and thats why they are small and usually no yolk

More information can be found on this on this site
go to the FAQ section

Egg bound... is when a hen has a soft shelled or a extra large egg inside her and unable to push it out easily... it gets stuck... eggs with soft or no shells don't give the hen something to push against to pop it out... and it takes them 80% more effort to lay the egg... and if another egg is coming behind it then it makes it even harder for them to pop out

When you find the egg on the floor of the coop after the nights sleep... it is usually due to the fact that the hen relaxes her muscles and the soft shelled egg falls out


#15247 - 09/12/04 07:35 PM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8499
Loc: Montana
TC, Six months old pullets that have been laying nicely, should not be having need for suppliments, if their feed has been a good Layer Ration. While Oyster shell is good to offer, so that there will be no drain on their bones, etc. a good layer ration is all they need for continual production of normal eggs for at least a year, usually longer. You may hit the ceiling when I ask: what else have they been eating? I won't say more than "fun and enjoyment" or "they love it", does not produce eggs and may contribute to problems with that shell gland that "finishes" each egg. I mean it sincerely, not as any "after thought". Will it correct itself? Cannot say. I hope so, but I would stop feeding anything except their layer ration, at least for a few weeks!

"Egg bound" is having a large hard shelled egg that cannot exit the vent. Lack of lubrication and then extreme pain and inflamation results in a hen straining and taking the posture of a penguin. If it cannot exit, the hen will die, and partly because she cannot pass her poop and all systems are backed up.
Soft shelled egg are also trapped in the canal, but usually slowly move along and the hen is in quiet distress for a day or two, until it finally drops out. If the soft shelled egg breaks inside, infection will begin--and the hen will die, but rarely is the poop plugged, as the soft shelled egg is flexible enough to allow it to pass, even if hung up right at the opening. Egg bound is the worst of all, as once it happens, it is apt to repeat , and the inflamation likely will be an infection before she heals, as another egg following, will add to the misery. Soft shelled can more often be a one or two time thing, which corrects, but infections of the canal--at any part can lead to binding OR soft shells--never a good prognosis. An occasional "teeny" egg is not a cause for worry, but if a hen lays two or more, she may have an infection of her ovary. Not a good thing. CJR

#15248 - 09/12/04 11:14 PM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Point well taken CJR, but unecessary. The 10 RIRs I call The Collective are fed Layer Pellets. They have free access to their feed hopper. They have access to oyster shell and grit. On Saturdays I give them blackberries, 2 each. On Sundays I clip the soft, new sprouts from the berry bushes and toss them into their yard along 1 cup of scratch. On Tuesdays they get to share 1 ear of corn. On Thursdays I mix 1 cup oats with 1/2 cup of 2% milk, and 3 tblsp plain yogurt. That is the extent of their 'treats'. I never have indulged them. I won't say more either.
Okay..What has happened since last night is I realized 'who' the girl in question is. Since they began laying I have called one of the girls Belch. I didn't know which one she was and spent a lot of time trying to figure out the mystery. But she became my Big Egg Laying CHicken.

As it turns out, this afternoon as I was in the coop installing my redesigned water system, she presented me with one of her 'grande huevos'.
So...does this make any sense?
Suppliments was something I had considered because while I give them oyster shell, I don't really notice that it is being consumed.

I'll let you know what tomorrow brings.


#15249 - 09/13/04 02:10 PM Re: Soft-shelled egg....AGAIN...Now what?

Thanks very much for the advice Sandy and CJR. It is really helpful to be able to get advice from people with experience. I'm wondering of the vitamin content of my feed has deteriorated. The bags last for ages with only two hens... Probably I've had them too long - I know some vitamines are shortlived. I'll try and get the powder Sandy. I'm sure CJR is right that a good layer ration is enough - but I know the bag I am using now has a best before date of August 2004... Maybe some hens are more sensitive to a decline in vitamin content... The powder can do no harm for sure.

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