Why Your Chickens Are Laying Soft Eggs? – Causes & Treatment

You’ll probably come across eggs with very soft shells when raising chickens on your homestead. Don’t fear the weird occurrence that leaves a mess behind because its remedies are simple and cheap. You just have to know your birds.

In this guide, you’ll learn why your chickens are laying soft-shelled eggs and how to prevent it.

What is a soft-shelled egg, and how does it look like0

Chicken eggs are intriguing, from their creation in the hen’s body, to laying, storage, and consumption. A pullet (female chicken) reaches sexual maturity between 17–32 weeks, depending on the breed.

Now picture this; you go into the chicken coop to clean up the poop and find a broken egg. You start to question the universe—well not really. You say, what the hell, how did this happen?

You go on to investigate a little more and see the eggshell is not that strong, like a gel, rubbery with a very soft surface, and the color of the shell is relatively light. Yes, the egg has a yolk, and a membrane holds everything together, which is a sore sight.

The egg walls are thin and so brittle that people get them shattered as they pick up the egg from a nesting box, or break when stepped on by the hen. Having egg on your face in your hand isn’t the best feeling.

Fortunately, it’s hardly the case that your chickens are sick. It’s probably just a dietary calcium deficiency, which is easy to resolve.

An excessive amount of busted eggs in your nesting box is a telltale sign of soft-shelled eggs brought about by a lack of calcium in the birds’ diet.

Weak-shelled eggs are not like lashed eggs, where in the process of going down the assembly line of your chicken’s body to make an egg, one of its blood vessels gets wrapped up into the egg. This makes the egg look bloody. Sometimes your hen’s okay if it’s laying a lashed egg, or it can be a sign of a serious problem.

Fortunately, soft-shelled eggs aren’t so much of an issue. It’s similar to how our fingernails break easily, hair falls a little bit, or your skin doesn’t glow, indicating some deficiency. In this case, you’re probably dealing with insufficient calcium if you find soft-shelled eggs, which are easy to fix.

Chicken eggs sometimes have speckles, like a small extra raised husk or a dark dot, which is a positive sign that the birds are getting enough calcium.

Why fix soft-shelled eggs

chicken laying soft egg

Soft-shelled eggs are a loss to the farmer, who often throws them away. Worse still, your chicken is more likely to figure out it can eat its eggs when they see a soft shell, prompting cannibalism. You want the eggs to yourself.

An egg with a soft shell also doesn’t store well because the membrane’s too weak to protect the insides from the elements. Soft-shelled eggs dry out faster and look shriveled in a matter of days.

Causes of weak-shelled eggs

There are many answers to why your chickens produce soft-shelled eggs, and it’s essential to find out why, so we can better understand how to get them laying hard-shelled eggs again.

We list all the reasons below in descending order of magnitude for why chickens lay soft-shelled eggs or eggs with just a membrane.

Age (young and old)

 Pullets (juvenile hens) aren’t primed to lay hard-shelled eggs at the start, but everything should be normal after laying a few eggs. Shell strength steadily declines as time goes by, so be careful when buying old hens that are past their prime for shell quality.

Calcium deficiency

This mineral is often associated with healthy bones and teeth and is necessary to produce stronger shells. Ensure you give hens high quality, preferably organic, egg-laying feed.

Pro chicken farmers occasionally add limestone at around 10% of the feed or oyster shells to supplement calcium. Many chicken owners throw old shells back into the coop, but this isn’t the best source of calcium and can encourage the flock to eat healthy eggs. 

What are the causes of stress

Stress/ predators

stress can come in many forms and can be a massive trigger for your chickens to produce soft-shelled eggs. 

High temperatures or continuous agitation by other hens, people, or predators like a fox or raccoon trying to get into the coop can stress your chicken. Agitation during the night can lead to soft-shelled eggs because hens form their eggs while they sleep.


Poultry might be unable to absorb calcium, have problems with the shell gland, be sick, take a diet too high in salt, or suffer egg drop syndrome leading to soft shells. Fortunately, all these factors are less likely reasons why chickens are laying soft-shelled eggs


Provide high quality layer feed for chickens laying eggs. The layer feed also needs adequate vitamin D. Eggs can be affected if nourishing hens with a large amount of table scraps that miss many essential vitamins and minerals.

How to prevent soft shell eggs

soft shell egg

Factors like age are out of your control, while you can do something about the diet and stressors. Here’s what you can do to ensure hens get enough calcium to produce nice and rigid eggs since chicken feed is sometimes inadequate.

Toasted eggshells for calcium

As a temporary fix, you can give your chicken crushed-up eggshells to recycle calcium. Even though the inputs aren’t much, the process is still a lot of work.

To store up your eggshells, crush, rinse, and dry shells by leaving them out to dry for a few days or baking them in an oven. It’s imperative that you clean and dry the shells to reduce the chances of mildew occurring. 

Please note that you can create cannibalistic birds if you don’t crush the eggshells sufficiently because they can make the connection and start eating shells.

Using oyster shells to supplement calcium

The best way to give your chickens the calcium they need to keep the eggs strong and intact is to buy oyster shells. These are simply the hard exoskeleton of a variety of mollusks, and they tend to contain high levels of calcium carbonate (about 96%).

A bag of oyster shells is affordable, lasts a long time, and is the perfect supplement for a small backyard flock. Bugs/ insects are the number one source of calcium for pastured chicken, so they shouldn’t have a problem.

A commercial bag of oyster shells looks like tiny white rocks or little flakes of stones. Put them in a separate feeder occasionally, and the great thing about fowls is that they know how to self-regulate when eating the oyster shells.

Chickens realize when they require more calcium in their body, taking it as needed—similar to how ruminants take minerals, being smart enough to self-regulate. A feeder full of oyster shells can last for a long time, depending on the season and what the chickens are getting from their diet.

The tricky thing with calcium deficiency is that even if you notice it happened once to one bird, and you know which, it’s probably easier for you to provide a remedy to the entire flock and let them self-regulate.

You should start seeing your eggshells getting harder and healthier in the course of several weeks after supplementing calcium into their diet.

Dealing with stress

Stress can include environmental pressures, heat, predators, illness, or another chicken fighting for pecking order. 

Examine their living situation if your flock has a calcium-rich diet, such as layer feed, not grower feed. Check if roosters are picking on hens or if there’s insufficient space in the environment, causing her stress.

Too many chickens packed in a small coop for their range leads to problems with fights all the time or roosters mating too frequently.

Heat stress sometimes induces soft-shelled eggs as chicken pant and lose moisture faster than ideal, ultimately reducing calcium levels. You can’t do much about the weather, but you can make sure your flock has enough water and a cool area to rest.

Rather than focusing on creating hard eggshells, sick chickens use nutrients to try to recover. A soft egg can also indicate bacterial infection, virus, or trauma. Only a vet can diagnose a hen’s illnesses and recommend the best treatment.

Can you eat soft-shelled eggs?

Yes, you can eat soft-shelled eggs, but it feels gross and disturbing for most people to handle such an egg. Besides, it’s not healthy past some point.

Remember, the shell acts as a membrane to keep everything intact and prevent bacteria and other pathogens from getting inside. Without the shell, there’s a chance that germs penetrated the egg, and with that in the back of your mind, the egg suddenly doesn’t become so appetizing.

Soft-shelled eggs sometimes occur without any logical reason behind them. Yes, your hen is healthy and has a calcium-rich diet; you don’t witness frequent soft-shelled eggs, then one day, holy ___! A membrane. Fortunately, it can also be the case that the egg went through the oviduct faster than normal, so don’t worry too much about it.


Now you know what causes your chicken to lay soft-shelled eggs and how to fix it. An excellent place to start investigations is looking into calcium deficiency, which we highlighted as the likely cause of the occurrence. Feel free to ask us questions or add your knowledge in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Why Your Chickens Are Laying Soft Eggs? – Causes & Treatment”

  1. Hello Joseph,
    I have a small farmette here in Hanover, PA named Fairview Farm with 11 hens and one rooster. They are approximately a year old. One of the hens has been moping for sometime, may be a couple weeks until recently. Her problem also is laying soft eggs or shells eggs. At first it was a very small undersized egg. A few days ago the farmer next to us sprayed Roundup that’s when I noticed her turn for the worse. I noticed she is very withdrawn so I decided to quarantine her from the rest. She has a little bit of wheezing when she breaths, not constant though. Just wondering if you think she may have some type of an infection? Do you have any suggestions for me?
    Rita Marie

  2. I have a 9 year old silkie who is still laying eggs, her eggs come out so strange lately. Very odd shapes, sometimes they will be so irregular shaped they won’t roll. They sometimes have a lot of little round dots all over them in little clusters, and sometimes the egg shell appears wrinkly but it’s hard to the touch. Today she laid one so soft the shell just dents in with a soft touch. It seems she may be nearing the end of her egg laying days. Thanks for the tips!

    • I too have a hen laying odd shaped eggs sometimes with a hole in it and sometimes soft
      Does this mean she’s at the end of her laying days


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