As your chickens begin to lay eggs, some concerns may come up. Most of these relate primarily to the health and conditions of the chickens and their environment. Here, however, we will discuss concerns focused mostly on the condition of the eggs laid.
A hen’s health and diet have a huge impact upon the eggs they lay. Make sure the environmental conditions and diet are as close to ideal as possible (Environment and diet are covered in other posts. Click on the link to see them.). This will increase egg health, whether eggs are produced to hatch live chicks or to eat, as well as increase the number of eggs produced. This is especially important when the eggs will be fertilized and incubated to produce chicks.
One of the most common side effects of insufficient diet is a thin shelled egg. This is caused by a calcium deficiency in the hen. To solve this problem, check the diet of the chickens. Remember, calcium is one of the dietary staples of all life, including chickens, particularly hens laying eggs. Eggs require large amounts of calcium, most of which creates the shell. It may be a good idea to add a calcium supplement to the diet. Many hen owners always add the calcium supplement when they know a hen will soon begin laying eggs.
On occasion, a chicken may lay an egg with no shell whatsoever. This is no cause for concern, as long as it is only a rare problem. This is an especially prevalent issue in young chickens, who are first getting the hang of egg-laying. However, if it happens more than very rarely, you should reexamine the amount of calcium in the chicken’s diet and the chicken’s overall health.
On occasion, an egg may be laid without a shell. This is no cause for concern.
Dietary issues related to egg production are not caused exclusively by calcium deficiency. A variety of other imbalances can cause similar problems. For instance, too much salt in the diet may, potentially, cause many of the same problem as a calcium deficiency; however, it is much more common for the problem to be a lack of calcium.
The problem may also be with the environment. If the hens are disturbed during the night, especially by something they may perceive as a predator, it could cause a disturbance in egg production. An unclean or frequently disturbed habitat will almost always impact egg production negatively.
Illness may also negatively affect egg production. Infectious Bronchitis, also called IBV, is one of the more prevalent diseases in poultry. It primarily causes respiratory problems, but also can affect number and quality of eggs laid. Vaccination and revaccination can help prevent this disease, as will maintaining a clean and healthy environment. If you suspect one of your birds has IBV, remove it from contact with the others. Other illnesses will also disrupt egg production, and should be prevented as much as possible and dealt with if they surface.
There are some factors of egg production that are completely out of your control. If you are doing everything right, and the hen is still laying few or no eggs, it may be caused by a genetic or inborn problem that the hen naturally has. If a hen frequently lays eggs with thin shells, or no shell whatsoever, the problem may be a defective shell gland, which you can do very little about. These issues are relatively uncommon.
But, when all is said and done, a healthy hen in a proper environment with a balanced and nutritious diet should lay healthy, well developed eggs on a regular basis.