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Veritysilkies

Soft shelled egg help!

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Hi there,

I seem to be having an issue with soft shelled eggs with 2 of my silkies. One in particular has laid 3 in the last week and today sat in the laying nest most of the morning having laid one onto the roosting bars over night.

I have been trying really hard to combat this problem (before this week I have had about 1 soft egg a month). Currently they girls have oyster shells and baked egg shells in the run to freely eat. I have also been mixing some egg shells into their layer pellets over the last week and have also started mashing the layer pellets so they eat more of them.

They have had both an agrivite shells and bone supplement as well as the nettex vit boost and are wormed up to date (worked with flubenvetast month). They also have ACV twice a week. I feel like I am at my wits end today and was so disappointed to see my hen lay another softy this morning and then appear affected by it. 

Can anyone suggest what the problem might be? I can take her to the vet (and spoke to them over the phone last week) but they dont seem to know a huge amount about chickens and didnt seem concerned when I rang about the problem last time.

 

Thank you for your help!

Verity 

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Careful with the ACV. Think I’ve read on here somewhere that it can inhibit the uptake of calcium. Chemically it makes sense as it will probably dissolve any calciumcarbonate in their system.

How old are they and what do they get besides layer pellets?

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Thanks for your quick response, they have turned a year old this month so still young. They get some treats in the afternoon- normally a handful of corn, sunflower seeds etc or some veg but never very much.

Do you think it could be a problem with absorbing the calcium? 

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Hi, I also have silkies, and I recommend giving them a supplement to add to their water with vitamin D3 in it, don’t use AVC.

Keep feeding oyster shell, Pellets, and fruit etc. But remember that if they are slightly overweight (it’s hard to tell with silkies I know!) then then that is another cause of egg shell softness. Check the breast area of the chicken, if you can’t see or it is hard to feel the breast bone centered, then it is over weight.
If none of this improves the egg shell quality then it might either be because of the cold weather (it’s a strange theory but my silkies have stopped laying all together) Speak to the vet again and go to an exotics vet. Or she might have calcium absorption problems. Double check with an exotics vet! They are really good and usually have an expert chicken vet. 

 What my silkies have is 60% pellets, 15% oyster shell, 10% corn, 15% veg. As well as supplements. I would up your oyster shell to a bit more for the next few days to see if it makes a difference.

 

Good luck, keep us posted ☺️

Also, on omlet, they do an egg shell improver supplement which you dust on their feed. Try that!

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Thank you that's really helpful! I did wonder about lack of vit D due to being in their run all the time at the moment. I will also try the nettex egg shell.improver supplement, that's really useful. 

The silkie I am worried about Is definetly not overweight, in fact she is underweight As her breast bone is very prominent, another reason I worry about her, and probably all connected. Any tips for feeding up a silkie too?

That is very interesting you say their diet is 10% oyster shells, I dont think mine are really touching them at all and also dont seem interested in the egg shells unless I mix them into their feed- then they eat them all so I wonder if this is actually the key issue?

 

Thanks again,

Verity 

 

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Yes, very similar to me. My silkies barely touched the oyster shell. First and foremost take her to an exotic vets. To fatten her up give them porridge every morning with water (not milk). As well as corn that contains maize will fatten her up. Although it is normal for you to be able to feel the breast bone. Maybe with a pestle and mortar grind the oyster shell up a bit more, because my oyster shell was too big which is why they wouldn’t eat it, and then mix it in with their daily corn and feed.☺️

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Giving extra Calcium can be counter-productive because it upsets the Calcium /Phosphorous balance which should be (according to our feed labels) 8:1. Also needed is vitamin D (as said already) and that comes from sunlight or can be added with a little cod liver oil. The calcium for the egg shells doesn't come directly from the feed, it comes from storage in the bones, so there is a complex process there that could easily be upset. I think in a good quality feed there will be all that is necessary and giving extra treats too often could adversely affect the diet that is necessary for good health.

They sell only oyster shell grit here simply because the practice of scatter feeding mixed grain only (not feed pellets) is still widespread, so the grit is the only way they get Calcium. But they do free range, so they are able to supplement their diet with insects and various flowers and weeds.

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Yes however because all the chickens are inside at the moment, oyster shell and vitamin D should get her back to laying hard egg shells. If the right calcium balance doesn’t do anything @Veritysilkies then there is probably some sort of internal problem. If all your other silkies are still laying hard eggs then it is probably an underlying issue the Silkie laying soft eggs has. So definitely get her checked.

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Also I just remembered that a reason why she might have lost weight is because they use oyster shell and stones as grit that they store in their gizzard and if they don’t have enough then they struggle to break down food, so if they are not eating the oyster shell then she is probably loosing weight because she doesn’t have enough grit to break down all her food properly. It’s just a theory but it is quite a feasible explanation. So grind up some oyster shell in a pestle and mortar.

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Ground up oyster shell isn’t grit. Those bits are much bigger.

Laying hens are often on the thin side, certainly according to most vets as they often “practice” on meat birds. You will be able to feel the breastbone, but it shouldn’t feel sharp.

Cut back on all treats for a good while and let them eat a good quality layer pellets.

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Try some Gastro Grit from www.claretaylor.com  The Chicken Whisperer.   Sorry don’t know how to make it clickable.   Mine don’t usually bother with grit, but love this!   Usually though, chickens often lay soft shelled eggs when they start laying and then as they wind down to retirement.   It’s just the egg laying tackle winding up and winding down, 

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@Cat tailsi meant ground up the oyster shell so that it is easier for her hen to eat, because she said her hen wasn’t eating the oyster shell, so i recommended to grind it so it is smaller, as my hen wouldn’t eat the oyster either because it was quite large pieces. 

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Thanks everyone, this is all really helpful. Annie (silkie) and I did visit the vet earlier today as I am concerned by her loss of condition. She is now on a course of baytril to help with any secondary infections she might be fighting. I am aware this might not work but hopefully might give her a bit of a boost.

Very interesting reading about all the grit suggestions- i have just been onto clare Taylor's fabulous website to order some gastro grit and will break the oyster shells up a little smaller in the meantime. 

Fingers crossed this should all help her to put on some weight and start laying hard egg shells again. She is a fiesty lady so hopefully she will get stronger! 

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Having only ever had it really intermittently in the past I’ve now had 4 soft shelled eggs in the past 2 weeks. No other eggs. I’m not sure which hen it is.

Mine have access to Marriages layers pellets all day, have a small amount of very posh Royal Variety Mixed Corn before bed, and have the occasional broccoli stalk, corn on the cob or cabbage hung up in their run. I put tonic in their water about once every 4 water changes. They have access to some grass and an overgrown rockery in ‘tunnels’. So they shouldn’t really be deficient in anything.

I’m wondering if it might actually be weather related 🧐

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How interesting! And reassuring to know someone else who is having this problem! There have been so few bright days recently, I do wonder about the Vit D deficiency and also with avian flu meaning they are in all of the time... bring on spring!

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Well yes, definitely. It is a bit odd because I usually find that when one is going to lay a soft shelled egg they look really poorly and uncomfortable before hand, but I haven’t seen that in any if them.

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