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What’s Going On With Your Eggs?

What’s Going On With Your Eggs?

The quality of eggs you receive from your backyard flock relies on a number of important factors. I’ve outlined 7 key issues that you might see in your eggs from time to time and some of the potential causes.

1. Soft-shelled eggs

  • Poor nutrition
  • Heat stress
  • Scare (fox, dog, workers,
  • Roundworm build-up
  • Young hen new to laying or an older hen (over 18-months-old)

2. Rough shells

  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor gut health
  • Roundworm build-up
  • Common in older hens

3. Wrinkled eggs

  • Over consumption of calcium
  • Stress or scare
  • Roundworm build-up
  • Compromised immune system (e.g. respiratory infection)

4. Calcium deposits (white spots on the egg shell)

  • Poor nutrition (e.g. hen eating too much calcium)
  • More common with older hens
  • Compromised immune system (e.g. respiratory infection)

5. Misshapen eggs/pointy eggs

  • Stress
  • Compromised immune system (e.g. respiratory infection)
  • Roundworm build-up

6. Hair cracks (tiny hairline cracks on the surface of the eggshell)

  • Heat stress
  • High water salinity
  • Common with older hens laying larger eggs
  • Poor nutrition (e.g. calcium and Vit D deficiencies)

7. Dirty/soiled egg shells

  • Poor gut health (e.g. from parasitic worm issues)
  • Poor nutrition e.g. too many scraps especially citrus, onions, spicy food or mouldy bread
  • Dirty nest (hens are sleeping in the nest box)

  

How to improve your hen‘s egg quality

 

1. Improve their gut health!

2. Improve their nutrition

3. Improve their environment

  • Remove/reduce any stresses e.g. heat, cold, dampness, draft etc
  • Clean out coop periodically and replace bedding and nesting materials
  • Block/stop hens from sleeping/roosting in their nest boxes
  • Remove/reduce scraps

8 thoughts on “What’s Going On With Your Eggs?

  1. I recently was given a hen from a hobby farm. She lays eggs with albumen that looks cloudy and as if the egg has been partly cooked. Fairly often the egg is soft shelled. She looks very healthy and is fed commercial grain, food scraps, and pecks in the yard for about 3 hours each day. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      There may be a number of causes for the soft egg shells and cloudy albumen or egg white. If she is older than 18-months of age the egg quality tends to degrade and you will naturally have softer egg shells due to the difficulty with older hens in their ability to cover their large eggs with a strong layer of calcium.

      Another potential reason is the food she is receiving as most commercial grains are too low in nutrition for good laying breeds of hen. Food scraps will add very little and a good pasture will provide between zero and 10% of their nutritional needs which of course will vary greatly with the seasons so can’t be relied upon.

      Like many things in life, getting down to the basics is a good strategy which means top-grade nutrition that is tailored to the needs of good laying breeds as a first step. Age and breed are also important but getting the nutrition right is the most important first step.

      Let me know if you have any other question?

      Jason

  2. This week I have had two unusual egg happenings! One was a teeny tiny egg with just a white inside and the other was just egg white and yolk lying in the nesting box and no shell to be seen! I have two Isa Browns which have been laying constantly for 18 months, but they have recently stopped except for the two weird layinga as mentioned. I also have a Sussex and she is not laying as she’s broody! They have plenty of space to live and I’m diligent with keeping things clean etc. Be glad of any advice! Thank you!

    1. Hi Ruth,

      Your hens are considered old at 18-months of age. Older hens can benefit from a separate dish of coarse shell grit which should always be provided if on a pelletised feed. If you haven’t dewormed them recently, it could also be a good idea to do that.

      There could also have been something in their range area that they have eaten and it has caused issues. Once any toxicity has passed, the egg quality may get back to how it was previously. The tiny, yolkless egg is not uncommon and does show-up now and again with older hens.

      Let me know if you have any other questions?

      Jason

  3. Hi Jason,

    Our gorgeous hens bought from you are now 28 weeks old. 4 members of ‘The bomb squad’ are happily dropping their payload every day. Yum!
    One was regular and has stopped. Another hasn’t laid one at all…yet. I have a sneaking suspicion that one with a dirty bottom has stopped laying. But I can’t work out who is not laying at all and if this is normal at this stage. I read the bit on your site of what to look for if a chicken is getting ready to lay but really don’t know how to tell.
    I’ve watched them when out free ranging and there is no sneaky nest.
    Any thoughts or suggestions?
    Other than this our girls love hanging out with us in the backyard when we are tending the gardens and aren’t even fussed by the big ride on mower! Thank you also as my daughter has taken to her responsibilities with them like a chook to a worm! If she could have them in her bed, she would!
    Cheers!

    1. Hi Katherine,

      Thank you for your comments. It sounds a bit like a feed issue to me so what are you feeding them at the moment? If the feed isn’t up to scratch, you will have one or two that will struggle to lay while the big eaters will lay but not to their ability.

      The other possibility is that they have worms which are very common and can cause runny bottoms but won’t normally stop them laying. It is easily fixed but I need to know what they are being fed as a first step to diagnosing what might be going-on.

      Great that your children are loving them and they are very child and family-friendly hens that’s for real!

      Jason

  4. Hi Jason.
    This is a bit of a long shot.
    I’m from Ireland and I have 4 hens.
    2 got April2020 as pullets and 2 new pullets just got a few weeks ago.
    The 2 older girls are a bluebell and a leghorn cross I think.
    The leghorn cross has had a bit of trouble last few months.
    During the winter she would lay a Shell less egg every few days.
    Lately it’s just been 1 Shell less a week and she lays it usually in the evening when they are back in the coop and then they eat it.
    I’ve wormed them lately, have oyster shells available, Apple Cider Vinegar in water, cod liver oil on the layer pellets with a dust of egg shell improver.
    In January she lost a bit of weight and then had a prolapse.
    But it healed up well and then put back on weight and looks great at the moment, comb red, bright looking and eating.
    They free range from about midday til it gets dark.
    Any ideas what you think is wrong with her?
    Any advice would be great.
    As I’m very new to minding hens.

    1. Hi Maurice,

      Thank you very much for your comments. It’s been a while since I was in Ireland but I miss it very much!

      I would probably try a new, “mash” feed to see if that makes a difference. Make sure that it is a high-end feed with around 18% protein levels and a “total” diet for laying hens. Cut-out all the scraps for two-weeks just to make sure that one isn’t causing issues for the hen(s), and don’t add any extras such as the shell improver, oyster shells, cod liver oil etc.

      I like to get down to basics when things aren’t going as expected and eliminate any possible elements that might just be causing a problem. After 14-days of the best quality feed you can buy for them, if nothing changes, you can slowly add in one element at a time that you had previously used and watch closely for any changes.

      If nothing much changes, it could well be a deworming treatment that hasn’t been effective rather than what you were feeding them. This could be through either missing the 10 to 14-day follow-up deworming, or the hens “turning their beaks up” at the taste and not consuming the required amount of the medicated liquid to treat the parasites.

      Thanks again for your comments and let me know how it goes.

      Jason

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