If you have been breeding chicken for long, then it’s likely that you have encountered some strange-looking eggs now and then.
However, even the most odd-looking eggs are most likely not a cause for a significant concern because they are caused mainly by a glitch during egg development.
One of the most common strange things you may encounter in chicken farming is your flock producing soft-shelled eggs.
Such eggs may make you think that there is something wrong with your chicken.
This is not always true.
In most cases, you can do something to avoid your chickens laying soft-shelled eggs in the future.
What is a Soft Shell egg?
Softshells are, also known as shell-less eggs, rubber eggs, or partially shells, do not have shells, or if they do, they are incredibly soft.
Most farmers prefer eggs that are strong enough to withstand transportation and withstand the hen’s weight. However, soft-shell eggs are soft and feel like rubber. They lack the hard shell that covers the white and the yolk for regular eggs. Instead, they have fragile shells or membrane that is transparent and can easily break when poked with your finger.
Are soft-shelled eggs normal?
If you notice thin-shelled eggs, you are likely to have so many questions. What does it mean, and is there something wrong with my chicken?
The thing about eggs is that eggs are imperfectly beautiful, and in most cases, they differ in appearance. Some have bumps and discolorations.
Such tiny blemishes are perfectly normal and are not a cause for concern. Soft-shell eggs are also not an indication of a significant problem, but the good thing is that there is something you can do to prevent your hen from laying such eggs in the future.
What are the signs that your chicken is laying soft-shelled eggs?
One of the things you may notice is a membrane inside the nesting box or on the ground in the chicken coop or a strand of membrane on the trail of your chicken vent.
You may also see a broken egg or eggs with much thinner shells and crack much more quickly than usual.
How to Prevent Soft-shelled Chicken eggs
Calcium is crucial for the formation of shells of each egg a hen lays. It’s also essential for the contractions that help in the laying of eggs. Ensuring that your hen gets good quality feed that includes an oyster shell or crushed eggs shell should be enough to ensure you get nice hard shells on the eggs.
However, these may not be enough, especially when your hen’s body cannot absorb calcium correctly or when there are some underlying problems.
What causes soft-shelled chicken eggs?
There are a few factors that can cause soft-egg shells. Some such as age are out of your control and others such as diet you can control while others are much more serious reasons such as stress and illness.
- Age of the chicken
Young layers that are just starting to lay eggs often produce soft-shelled eggs. Once the reproductive system develops and matures fully, then this should stop. On the other end, hens make larger eggs as they age. Older hens may lay thin-shelled eggs because they are trying to encompass a much larger yolk/white with the same shell amount may cause thin shells.
A distressed egg may lay its egg prematurely before forming the shell. Common causes of stress include harassment from dogs and predators or getting chased by children may cause anxiety and fright.
- Calcium deficiency
As mentioned above, calcium is crucial in producing eggshells, and insufficient calcium would result in soft-shelled eggs. Ensure you provide calcium supplements in separate containers so that hens can get as much as they need.
- Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can also cause the production of soft-shelled eggs, So it’s crucial to ensure that your chickens are exposed to sunlight all through the year.
Soft-shelled eggs may also be a disease symptom though it’s a far less common cause. Such illnesses include infectious bronchitis and Newcastle disease. If your chicken is laying soft-shelled eggs regularly, then it may be time to consult a vet for closer observation.
How to stop chickens from laying soft-shelled eggs
- Your flock should have access to oyster shells or crushed eggshells, and should you should not mix in the feed. So that each hen can eat the amount they need because the absorption rate for calcium differs from one chicken to another.
- Add probiotic powder to your daily feed for thicker and better-quality eggshells.
- Don’t overfeed your chicken with chards, beet greens, spinach, and citrus fruits because they interfere with calcium absorption. If you are already experiencing soft-egg shell eggs, you may need to cut the treats altogether.
- Ensure your chicken spends a part of each day outside because they need vitamin D to absorb calcium. They should be in the sunlight as much as possible.
- To promote calcium absorption, you can add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water. In severe cases, you may need to add liquid calcium to the water to boost the calcium level.
Soft-sell egg broke inside the chicken.
When an egg breaks inside the chicken, this is an emergency that requires immediate intervention because it can lead to the hen’s death. It can become infected and need antibiotics and probiotic powder to increase her good bacteria.
Chicken laying soft eggs at night
Most chickens do not lay eggs overnight; they sleep. They lay them in the morning and during the day. So if you are finding soft-shelled eggs laid overnight, this may indicate a problem with your hen.
They may be mites bothering her in her sleep or something wrong with the reproductive system. Check for mites in the roost, and if they are not, get a vet to look at the hen.
Will a soft shell egg hatch?
Any fertilized egg will hatch if it is incubating properly. However soft shell eggs will pose a myriad of challenges if you attempt to hatch them. These are namely humidity control and nutrition for the chick inside. Eggs lose moisture when incubated. This is why humidity has to be maintained in the incubator. If a soft-shelled egg is incubated alongside other eggs, it will lose humidity faster than the rest, leading to hatching issues.
But let’s say you incubate the egg alone and manage to control humidity to suit the soft-shelled egg. Here comes the second issue – nutrition for the baby chick inside. Chicks absorb calcium from the eggshell before they hatch. Soft-shelled eggs have little or no calcium. This means even if you manage to get the egg to hatch, the chick might be malnourished.
Simply put, hatching soft-shelled eggs is not worth it, unless the egg is the only one you have from a rare breed. Or simply you just want to experiment.
Are soft-shell eggs safe to eat?
While a soft shell egg on its own may not be poisonous, it may not fit human consumption. The hard shell helps keep pathogens and bacteria from the egg, but without it, there is a chance that it may be contaminated with germs. So, it would be best not to eat them.