There’s nothing worse than harvesting eggs and feeling a soft egg that is rubber-shelled amongst your gorgeous clutch.
Rubbery or thin-shelled, soft eggs aren’t uncommon in a nesting box, but they are an indication that your hen may be lacking something in her nutrition.
What’s Wrong With My Chicken?
First off, don’t panic, eggs are never perfect every time and imperfections should be expected. Your eggs will come in a variety of shapes and sizes and will also have a few flaws here and there.
A soft-shelled egg is alarming, and even a bit intriguing, but typically it isn’t a cause for concern.
Why is My Chicken’s Egg Shell So Thin?
Thin shells don’t typically happen overnight. In fact, you may have been noticing the thinness over time… especially if you find them easy to crack when preparing your breakfast.
So what has caused this gradual decline in egg durability?
Let’s dig in:
Common Causes of Soft Eggs
1. Young Hens
Spring chickens are still developing their egg-making skills and some of their first eggs may be extremely thin-shelled. If your hen is a first-time layer, you can expect her eggs to be less than perfect.
In fact, you will probably come to enjoy the variation and intriguing differences of a new hen’s eggs. Besides, who wants the same old same old all the time? From bumps and odd shapes to double-yolker surprises, your new ladies will often dole out some amazing eggs during their first few weeks of laying.
So, give your young hen some time, and she will come around soon enough.
2. Lack of Calcium
Eggshells are created from calcium, and hens need a lot of it in order to produce strong eggs. Commercial layer feeds are a great assurance of proper nutrition, and vitamins and minerals for your flock.
If calcium is lacking in your hen’s diet, her eggshells will be fragile, or seemingly non-existent. I’ve watched a hen lay a balloon-like egg right on the porch in front of me. I was shocked to see the translucent egg bouncing away. But I knew my free-range hen needed a little extra calcium to bring her eggs back up to par.
Crushed oyster shells are a great way to give back the calcium your hens need in their diet. You can find oyster shells harvested, ground, and prepared for chickens in most agriculture stores.
If you can’t find oyster shells, crumble some of your hens’ eggshells and bake them in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees..and give them back to your girls! It’s all calcium anyway!
3. Old Hens
As your favorite ladies get older, their egg producing-abilities begin to slow down and deteriorate. Even though old hens eat the same amount of calcium as they did when they were younger, their eggs may not come out as strong.
In truth, old hens’ eggs may not arrive as frequently, but they are typically larger than a young hen’s eggs. Which means she needs even more calcium to compensate for the larger surface area of the egg.
To solve this dilemma, provide more calcium for your hens. While her production may not speed up, you can help her reinforce the eggs that she does continue to produce.
4. Afraid of the Dark
Ok, maybe your hen isn’t afraid of the dark, but if a predator is lurking about at night, for example, she may start producing low-quality eggs due to stress (or even stop laying altogether).
On the other hand, if one of your hens is getting bullied, the stress may also cause her to lay thin-shelled eggs.
In a way, rubbery eggshells may be a sign that something is off amongst the coop, and some monitoring may in order.
5. Sick Hens Laying Soft Eggs
When a hen becomes ill, they often start slacking when it comes to quality eggshells.
Of course, it’s through no fault of their own. But, if you’ve ruled out every other cause, it’s worth considering that your hen may be sick and need a vet’s diagnosis to pinpoint the problem.
6. Lash Eggs
A lash egg, often mistaken for an egg, is a different story altogether. It’s not an egg with a shell that lacks calcium. It may contain bits and pieces of an egg, but it’s truly just a pus-filled mass that a hen lays in the form of an egg due to the shape of a hen’s oviduct.
A lash egg is the result of an infection of the hen’s oviduct. As mentioned, it is in the shape of an egg, but may have a cheese-like consistency and is composed of layers. It is often yellow in color and can have a waxy appearance.
Unfortunately, by the time a lash egg is laid, the hen has been fighting the infection for a while, and it could already be too late for her. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try! Hens treated with antibiotics can heal and survive the infection if it is caught quickly.
The cause of lash eggs can be difficult to identify, but as always, keeping a clean coop does wonders for the health of your hens.
On the other hand, thin-shells may just mean your hen needs some added calcium or is at an age that is not optimal for creating a robust egg. In either case, patience and a little extra calcium oomph can easily do the trick for your ladies.