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gpvet, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 94
Experience:  I am a general practice vet with 13 years of experience dealing with all types of companion animals and small exotics
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I have a hybrid hen fully immunized. She has laid from 16

Customer Question

I have a hybrid hen fully immunized. She has laid from 16 weeks very large white eggs. She is now coming up to three years old. She has always been very active and skinny. Over the winter she has moulted very slowly and during this time has continued to lay. She had egg membranes hanging out of her rear during this time and I took her to the vet. who prescribed calcium tablets for one week. After this she improved somewhat. She has layer pellets, corn and oyster shell available at all times. She is now laying sometimes soft eggs and sometimes eggs with no shell, usually during the night I find a mess of white and yellow under her perch area. She is one of five hens free ranging and in other respects appears active. Her rear is becoming soiled and I am concerned about internal infection. I have wormed all the hens recently in their food and wondered if this was the problem, but other four are O.K.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  gpvet replied 4 years ago.

Hi there


There are a number of reasons that hens can lay soft shelled eggs. This can happen as they come out of lay as they get older (quite common in the older hybrid bird, as in the industrial market they are never intended to make the grand age of 3), stress (which can include moulting), calcium deficiencies, deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals especially Phosphorus and Vitamin D3, or internal disease such as oviduct problems or systemic illnesses.


If there was just the issue with eggs and she was otherwise normal I would say it is probably just that is coming to the end of her laying life. Sometimes increasing the calcium content of the diet will help with this, as can supplemental D3. Vitamin D3 is usually synthesised in the skin using natural sunlight - not something we have seen a lot of recently!

However the fact that she is now getting soiled, is thin and that you are seeing a mess overnight makes me concerned that she could have a problem with her oviduct and possibly some egg peritonitis. This is a very serious condition that is nearly impossible to treat if left too long. The only treatment really is to remove her reproductive tract - basically to spay her. If there is too much infection in the abdomen then this becomes impossible.


I would get her looked at again to see if there is anything that can be done.


Here are a couple of links I have found that have some additional information on this condition:


The chickenvet site is a very handy site, and they will also advise vets who are unfamilar with chickens if they want any help with a case.


I hope this helps