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Thin or Soft Shelled Eggs

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A thin shelled egg is one that has such a thin shell that it may crack or break when picked up.

This is a photograph of a thin shelled egg where the shell was so thin that it dented as it was picked up. The picture on the right is of missformed and soft shelled eggs.




A soft shelled egg is one that has the shell either totally missing or resembling a fine soft membrane. It may look like a blob of jelly with a yolk. The egg usually breaks and the soft shell then just looks like a wrinkled piece of material.


Occasionally a hen appears quite ill, quiet and hunched for an hour or so before a soft shelled egg is laid, but then recovers completely soon after laying. A hen that behaves like this occasionally may have produced a soft egg that is eaten before you see it. A clue is the quick return to absolutely normal activity and behaviour.



Frequency and Possible Causes

It is quite common for a hen to very occasionally lay a thin-shelled or soft-shelled egg. A few hens do this for a short while and a very few may do this for several weeks.


This is extremely unlikely to indicate a problem with a hen. The one-off dodgy egg is just a blip in the egg production system, possibly caused by a shock, but usually no cause can be found.


If you do get more than one thin/soft shelled egg from a hen, you may find it helpful to review the amount of calcium your hens get in their feed. A good quality layers mash/pellets should contain enough, but hens that eat a lot of other things while free ranging, or get lots of treats may need extra calcium. You can buy poultry grit or oyster shell from feed merchants, or you can recycle your own egg shells. Just bake them and then grind them up.


A few people have noticed that their hen looks 'poorly' and is quiet and 'hunched up' for an hour or so before laying a soft shelled egg. The hen then makes a miraculous recovery after laying the soft egg. This is nothing to worry about.


Some people have used a liquid calcium supplement which you add to the hens' drinking water, available online.



Here are some links and excerpts from previous posts on this topic.


Diana1, May 06, see also picture below

"She has just passed something that looks like a large piece of chewing gum. It is not actually chewing gum. It is rubbery and looks like something she has created rather than eaten. Its kind of like a deflated balloon made of flesh coloured skin. I think it is a deformed egg - no shell, no jelly".


Buffie, April 06

Hi just to reassure anyone with a broken egg or thin shelled egg, Harrie had one this morning and it can be brought on by the warm weather as calcium is retained so it's no surprise a few of us are having this problem. I am going for the crushed baked egg shells first off and making sure they have plenty of mash whilst free ranging.


Beauty-Box, Jan 06

I had a soft shell from one of my chickens. I got some mixed poultry grit, which has crushed shells in it, as well as solouble soft calcium. I just keep a bowl of it in the run and I haven't had any more soft shells. It seems to have worked (touch wood). :D


Sheila, Dec 05

Hi, yes a softie I'm afraid, (sometimes the sac is missing too, or the shell is paperthin). This may well tie in with her feeling off colour recently (if my memory is correct on that one?)

We've had lots of discussions on soft eggs, there's probably a sticky somewhere.

We don't have a definitive answer so the following is personal feeling on it;

Firstly of course, to check intake of calcium in form of oyster shell grit, own crushed shells, or a product such as Shelstim. I use the latter as it provides other essential minerals too.

Secondly though, although calcium is vital, I don't think lack of it has been a factor in most of the softies reported here, so there must be something else going on.

Sometimes a fright, or a blip in the reproductive system, or a symptom of not feeling well.

It's not clear whether the soft eggs come from a chook who is feeling a bit run down, or whether the softies cause the chicken to feel under par.

It's a bit chicken & egg really!

So, lots of calcium and pampering, many of us have had a few & then they've been fine again, so best wishes, :D


AnnieP, Aug 05

Don't worry. Mine did this too. A week of brilliant eggs, followed by ten days or so of hopeless disasters. I did all the things you are doing: Shellstim, baked egg shells and poultry grit and oyster shells.

It did the trick in the end. Last week we had 14 eggs out of them and I relaxed...Sunday: A runny one, yesterday, two runny ones!! This morning, a hard one! There is no rhyme or reason, except that I am beginning to think that its to do with the amount of treats I give them: Towards the end of last week, as they were laying so well, I began giving them the odd treat again: a tomato one day, some sweetcorn another, some fresh spinich leaves...so I stopped all treats as soon as the runny eggs started again on Sunday. Today, a hard egg. I think there's got to be a link!

Are you feeding your girls "extras"?


Eggs with no shell


Poorly chicken and soft shelled egg


Strange egg


Discussion on grit and oyster shell


Soft shell and moulting


Everything you wanted to know about eggs


This is what Angel (Diana1's chicken) passed - read about it here



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