Imagine the excitement a poultryman feels but turned into disappointment by collecting soft eggs and then wondering why it happened. Chances are, the owner might have missed the signs that the chicken will be laying soft eggs. Multiple reasons may vary from the weather, chicken’s age, health, diet, and environment.
What is a soft egg?
A soft egg is also considered to be either a “rubber egg” or a “thin-shelled” egg. A soft egg only has its thin membrane as its shell, a yolk, and the part that serves as the egg white is called the albumen. Most often than not, it has an intensely thin shell that you can crack easily with a quick press using your finger.
It is given that most people, especially the poultry farmers, would prefer their eggs to be sturdy enough to resist the hen’s weight and the deportation from the henhouse to the consumers. However, it is not always the case to collect perfectly laid eggs. As eggs differ from one another, a possibility of laying soft eggs may occur.
The shell of an egg has two purposes. The first one is for it to be thick to safeguard the delicate embryo inside. Second, its function serves as a protection and a barrier from getting bacteria inside the membrane.
Chicken owners, especially those who have it for a living, have come to terms with themselves and have realized that chicken eggs are imperfectly amazing. They are unique and differ from one another from size to shape.
Typically, some hens lay soft eggs, and these eggs often feel and look smooth and rubbery as water balloons. However, do not take this occurrence leniently. Soft eggs can be considered a symptom of chicken diseases but do not necessarily mean that chickens with shell-less eggs are infected.
Although you may have encountered a soft egg, do not fret as there is a solution to this occurrence. Whatever is triggering the chickens to lay soft eggs or shell-less eggs can still be treated with minimal effort.
However, a chicken owner should still be cautious whenever chickens start to lay eggs, mainly because soft eggs can be difficult and quite dangerous for a hen since there is an absence of hard shell to help them exit the duct conveniently. You may notice that the chicken has been staying in its nest for an extended period which signifies that the egg has been stuck inside them.
What are the common causes of soft eggs?
As mentioned, there are multiple factors as to why chickens lay soft eggs. On top of the list is the age of a chicken. It could either be because a chicken is still young and its body is not used to laying eggs, or it could also be because they are yet to get sufficient amounts of calcium nutrients in their bodies.
Another cause is calcium deficiency. Hens need an adequate amount of calcium for them to produce perfectly laid eggs. Once they lack calcium, an unwanted production of rubbery or non-existent shells may occur. Eggshell comprises almost 95% calcium. Therefore, you can solve your chicken’s lack of calcium by feeding them their eggshells occasionally.
Similar to calcium nutrients, a chicken also needs protein in its body. However, too much protein is not good as well; it should not lack protein either. There is a certain percentage of protein required depending on the age of a chicken.
A day-old chick to six weeks old needs at least 20% of the protein in their body. The chicken should be fed at approximately 17% to 18% of protein from seven to eighteen weeks. Lastly, adult chickens need only 16% of protein. Its diet has to be balanced, and excessive intake of treats like mealworms and such can upset their delicate stomach to produce perfect eggs.
Weather can also be the culprit as to why your chickens end up laying soft eggs. Frequently, soft eggs occur during summertime. Chickens do not have the appetite to eat on hot days. They eat less and drink more, hence, not having the much-needed nutrients.
The worst thing a chicken owner might think of and is afraid to face is that their chicken might be ill. Soft-shelled eggs might indicate that a hen is infected with a disease. Soft eggs can indicate illness such as infectious bronchitis or what is called Newcastle disease.
It is a highly transmissible disease amongst birds that are commonly caused by a paramyxovirus. If soft eggs regularly occur, we suggest you start consulting a veterinarian.
What are the causes of stress?
Whenever humans are stressed, it affects their overall health, whether physical, mental, or emotional. It is inevitable and is already in our nature. And similar to humans, chickens are not excused from being stressed.
Once a chicken owner finds a thin-shelled or a soft egg in the roosting place, the owner must start taking action. Whenever chickens are stressed, they tend to lay imperfect quality eggshells, commonly known as soft eggs. There are four common factors as to why chickens become stressed.
First on the list is heat stress. Whenever you start noticing the poor quality eggs laid by your chickens, your immediate action is to check the temperature in the henhouse. A chicken’s body can withstand 41 degrees celsius, but these feathered creatures cannot handle extreme temperatures as much as we do.
In layman’s terms, they are more sensitive to heat than you do. However, heat is already part of our nature. The last thing that a chicken owner can do is provide relief, such as an ample amount of water to drink for when thirsty and a refreshing environment to rest in.
Another one is called rooster stress. Even though roosters play an integral role in reproduction, they have the tendency to over-mate with the hens. Hence, it causes them to be exhausted and get stressed. It is best to separate the rooster and the hen from one another to eliminate the stressor.
Environmental stress is also one of the stressors. Chickens tend to quickly get irritated to the point that anything and everything around them can promptly stress them out. An example would be a frequent chicken run or a congested coop. To avoid laying soft eggs, ensure a peaceful environment by providing your chickens enough space and comfort when laying.
Last among the list of stressors is predator stress. The word itself concludes the feeling of being tormented by other birds, mammals, or even experiencing henpecking. Chickens are sensitive to the point that even insecurity might cause them stress, leading to poor-quality shell eggs. And at some point, your hen might start laying less than usual.
What are the treatment tips for laying soft eggs?
There are essential tips on how to prevent your chickens from laying soft-shelled eggs. However, if actions or first-aid actions are done yet the problem still occurs, it is better to consult a veterinarian.
It is already stated how calcium deficiency results in laying poor-quality shelled eggs, regardless of the age of a chicken. Even if your chickens are not showing any symptoms of calcium deficiency, it is better to provide them with enough calcium.
There are supplements available in the market. And in case you want to supplement their calcium intake organically, the crushed oyster shell is also available in the nearby stores.
Another organic calcium supplement that is also thrifty is feeding them their eggshell. However, the preparation process is quite tedious as it demands squashing the eggshells and has to be baked. Ensure that eggs are pounded enough, and the outcome will not look as much as an eggshell. In that way, your chickens will not recognize their eggs as a portion of food to eat.
A balanced diet is also essential for chickens. Feed your chickens fresh food and provide them a balanced diet that sustains the nutrients their body needs. This action is a must, especially for hens who work hard to produce eggs. The food intake of chickens has to supply them with enough nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, calcium and proteins.
We already talked about how the weather is one of the culprits on why chickens lay soft eggs. The best advice for the chicken owner is to check the temperature at the coop from time to time. Make sure that they are at a stable and balanced temperature.
Chicken owners can do the treatments mentioned above. However, if symptoms still occur and the chickens are not getting any better, consult an expert. Veterinarians would be of big help to improve the situation.
We have come to terms that there are multiple and inevitable reasons why your chickens are laying soft eggs. In addition, we have also provided tips on how to address the problems. As a chicken owner, it is crucial that you notice the symptoms earlier for you to take the necessary steps.