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The mystery of the missing eggs

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I have a problem with Susan. She is a two/three year old Maran. Apart from being cross eyed, missing two toes, cross beaked and hairy feet she is a lovely girl. She has laid every other day almost constantly since she first started laying. But then she stopped. Her last egg was on 29th March. The shells went a bit weird towards the end. Bit rough, bi-coloured. The insides were fine. 

Now she goes into the nesting box every day for about two hours then comes out singing the “ive laid” song. But no egg ! Nor any sign of an egg. She struts about for a while then joins the rest of my 7 strong flock.

Does anyone have any idea what is happening with her ? Can hens get dementia ?

A bit of background - I have two coops and seven hens, all different species mostly middle sized. They are wormed monthly with verm-x and six monthly with flubenvet. There are no ticks, mite or lice that I can find. They spend the mornings in the main gardens and, after a decent egg count, get let lose into our small oak wood where they have dust baths, hen parties and lots of fun. At night they come back to the garden for beer o’clock with us and then they go to bed. They all have bright red erect wattles and beautiful plumage - especially Susan who’s black gown positively shimmers with health.

Could she have simply stopped laying, like as an age thing? Bit early but I can’t think of anything else? Early menopause but without the cranky rhino thing?

Any ideas anyone ?


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Surprisingly it isn't the presence of an egg that sends hens to the nest box, but the release of a yolk from the ovary to drop into the oviduct. The timing of the egg production process means that an egg is usually ready to be laid. Sometimes the yolk misses the oviduct and passes into the abdomen where it is harmlessly absorbed, which means that at the next release of a yolk there will be no egg to lay. It is perfectly normal for this to happen on occasions; up to 13% was the figure I read. However if too many yolks miss the oviduct they can't  be absorbed and build up, which is a condition called egg peritonitis. You can also get whole eggs slip through a tear in the oviduct and lodge in the abdomen, but that's rare.

It's going to be a case of wait and see Debby. If her abdomen starts to swell there is a problem developing, but in my experience these things can just resolve themselves. We have Marans and ours have been prone to egg problems in their second year, at which point they have simply keeled over with no signs of illness whatsoever. I think in our case it was bad breeding as the two new ones from a completely separate source are in their second year and laying very well.

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Hi Beantree,

thank you for your reply and detailed information.

It is hard to see her each time she comes out so proud but no egg. My first thought was peritonitis but I felt that by now she would be showing signs of illness. Six weeks without any egg, but build up could still be a problem as you suggest and I guess all I can do is let her be happy with her flock sisters. She does seem a very happy girl and that is most important thing to me.

i will keep this post updated with any developments incase someone else has a similar or the same problem.

many thanks


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I agree with Beantree.

i think they often go in to lay out of habit as well, one of mine refuses to lay in the nest box unless they are confined to the run.... She prefers to lay wild, in the garden. If Susan seems if good health, then I wouldn't worry too much; it is entirely possible that she has just stopped laying altogether. Just for your peace of mind, I would suggest that you purchase a faecal worm egg count kit online and send their droppings off for checking. Verm-x is not a wormer, and if you have a high worm egg count in your soil, then they might need worming with Flubenvet more frequently than you are currently doing.

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Hi Dogmother,

i wormed Them with the flubenvet two weeks ago, infact I shut her in the run to make sure she had a full dose. I checked her poos with a x32 magnifying glass (what has my life come to ? 😆) and all seemed fine. No eggs or wigglies that I could see.

My darling husband says that I am poo obsessed 😷

Do you still think I should send off a test ?

I guess it wouldn’t hurt and desperate measures call for desperate actions.

thanks I will try that.

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