How to Prevent Thin Egg Shells

Livestock and beekeeping

Backgrounder

Do your hens lay eggs with thin shells or no shells at all? Usually the older birds in your flock are the ones that lay eggs with thin shells. They are the birds which have been laying eggs for a long time. The eggshell is the hard, inedible part of an egg. It gives shape to the egg and protects the chick during the incubation period. You won’t be able to sell eggs with thin shells, or use them for hatching new chicks. So it’s important to prevent your hens from laying eggs with thin shells.

How can you prevent your birds from laying eggs with thin shells? First, make sure your chickens have a well-balanced diet so they will be healthy and produce good quality eggs. In their daily feed you must give the chickens energy sources, protein, fat and oils, vitamins, and minerals.

Minerals in the daily feed, especially calcium, affect the thickness of egg shells. If your chickens do not get calcium, they will not be able to produce eggs with hard shells. A chicken loses calcium as it lays eggs. You must replace the calcium the chicken loses.

You do not have to spend much money to get calcium for your chicken feed. There are probably good sources of calcium in your local area. You can use limestone. Or, if you are lucky enough to live near the sea, you can collect oyster shells and other sea shells. Cuttlefish shells are good because they crumble easily and the chickens can just peck at them.

Before you feed most other kinds of shells to your chickens, wash them, and break them into small pieces. Mix the pieces of shell with the feed. Or throw them on the ground for the chickens to peck at. By pecking at the shells, the chickens will get the calcium they need. They will also keep busy so they won’t have time to peck at each other, which can be a problem, especially among chickens in pens.

Egg shells are also a good source of calcium. After using the egg, feed your chicken the leftover egg shells. Dry and crush the egg shells first, otherwise the chickens may get into the habit of eating their own eggs. You will lose many eggs if that happens.

Stress is another reason that chickens lay eggs with thin shells. Stress can be caused by extremely high temperatures. When the weather is hotter than usual chickens eat less, so they don’t get the calcium they need. Eventually, this will cause them to lay eggs with thin shells. Try to keep your birds cool and provide them with fresh, clean water. Also give them a regular calcium supplement. Sudden disturbances can also cause stress in chickens, so don’t disturb the birds.

Give your chickens well-balanced feed that contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water, and try to keep them cool and comfortable. If you do, your chickens will reward you and your family with good quality eggs, meat, and some extra money from selling these products.

Acknowledgements

  • By Theivendram Vigneswaran
  • ¬†Theivendram Vigneswaran was Farm Manager at the Jaffna College Institute of Agriculture in Maruthanamadam, Sri Lanka. He presently works as a consultant with DCFRN in Toronto.