A chicken laying eggs without shell (shell-less eggs) is doing so for a reason, and until you figure out the cause, you may not be able to stop it. Seeing a shell-less egg in your poultry farm or backyard chicken house may be beautiful for the first time. But the feeling changes when you start to see a couple of your hens laying eggs without shell. As a farmer, there are a couple of reasons why you don’t want your chicken to lay eggs without shell:
- You can’t sell shell-less eggs, therefore, it’s a loss to your farm
- Thin-shell eggs break easily and cause a mess
- When the cause is not known yet, it’s a major concern
- The chickens keeps eating but laying poor quality eggs
- You’re concerned it might be a disease
So, for whatever reason you are getting mad at your chicken for laying eggs without shell, I understand. But, hey! let’s talk about how you can stop it, but we will have to begin with the causes. As a practicing Animal Scientist, I have encountered the issue of shell-less eggs both on papers and in real-life, and I am willing to share with you the causes and what you can do in each situation.
Causes of Shell-less eggs
Dietary causes of shell-less eggs
- Low Calcium: This is one of the most popular reasons your chickens might be laying eggs without a shell. For your information, the shell of an egg is mainly calcium which is deposited over a couple of hours before the egg is laid. And as the saying goes, you don’t give what you don’t have – when your hens are low in calcium deposit, they are not able to lay eggs with strong shells. The eggs either come with thin shells or no shell at all. The remedy to this cause is to supplement your hen’s diet with calcium. Example of calcium sources are oyster shell and bone meal.
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Many people may not talk about this but it is more important than you possibly think. The fact here is that if you have a chicken laying eggs without shell, the hen may have deficiency in vitamin D. You might ask, “how does vitamin D affect egg shell?” Vitamin D is that vitamin that helps your hen to make use of the calcium from its diet. You need to check your micro-ingredients and ensure that you are giving your hen what she needs for strong egg shell.
- Low or Excess Phosphorus: Low phosphorus will cause shell-less eggs while excess phosphorus can lead to eggs with thin shells. Check your chicken feed formula.
- Saline water: Too much salt in water will result in thin shells.
Physiological & Health-related causes
- Stress: This is another factor that may lead to chicken laying eggs without shell. The process of egg formation takes around 16 hours from start to finish. And if your hen becomes over agitated, especially in the night period, it might impact the process of egg formation, leading to low calcium deposit on the egg formed. Sometime this stress may come from the disturbance caused by rodents or predators like snake. Hence, it is important to seal all crevices and prevent the intrusion of any dangerous animal. Stress may also come from heat during hot periods. Give your birds the serenity and ambient temperature they deserve and you will eliminate shell-less eggs from your farm.
- Immature or Defective Shell gland: It is possible that the hen’s shel gland is still developing. There are instances where some hens develop some problem with their shell gland. This will cause them to lay shell-less eggs
- Diseases: like Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease Virus, Infectious Bronchitis, Egg Drop Syndrome, as well as presence of mycotoxin in feed can also affect egg shell thickness.
ALSO READ: Top 5 Secrets of Successful Egg Production
Age-related causes of shell-less eggs
- Early Laying: When you see shell-less eggs at the beginning of laying, it is most likely because the chickens are still adjusting to production. The shell-less eggs will disappear in a couple of weeks when the birds’ system are fully adjusted. Do your hens a favor and switch to layer mash to supply them with the nutrients needed for egg production.
- Old Age: Just like the human body system tends to slow down in metabolism and many other processes in the body, hens reproductive system slows down too. Old age may cause your chicken to start laying eggs without shell. If this is happening when your chickens have reached 18 months in laying, you might have to sell them soonest. At this age, there is nothing you can do – they are simply worn out.
Overall, determining the cause of shell-less egg or thin egg shell is the genesis to solving the problem. And while some causes can be worked on, some cannot.
If you know of any other cause or solution to any of the above mentioned, please feel free to share in the comment section. Also share this post with friends.