There’s nothing quite like using fresh eggs in your kitchens. It’s one of the reasons why people start raising backyard chickens in the first place. However, as you’re collecting the most recent batch of eggs, you may notice some of them have softer shells (some may even be shell-less). There are a number of different factors involved that could be causing soft eggshells, but thankfully, there are just as many solutions.
One of the major causes of soft eggshells is calcium deficiency. Calcium is the main element that provides a shell its strength, so, if calcium intake is inadequate, the strength of the shells will be inadequate as well. This is largely due to age, as older layers struggle to absorb calcium, and younger layers are fed grower feeds that lack calcium. The best solution, then, is to incorporate more calcium in their diet. For the younger layers, start switching them to a layer ration; for the older layers, start giving them crushed oyster shells or oyster shell feed.
Create a stress-free environment
From predators to hot weather, the kind of stressful conditions your chickens have to live under can impact the quality of their eggs. Simply put, stressed chickens lay soft eggs, so find any possible triggers and eliminate them as soon as possible. Some things to look out for are bullying or henpecking between your chickens, hot or cold temperatures, or the threat of predators.
Decrease phosphorus intake
Too much phosphorus can have an adverse effect on your chickens’ eggs, namely by preventing calcium absorption. This shouldn’t be a problem if you buy your feed, as most layer feeds have low levels of phosphorus, but if you make your own feed, then start gradually decreasing the amount of phosphorus you’re putting in.
Increase Vitamin D intake
More specifically, you’ll want to increase your chickens’ Vitamin D3 intake if you want to strengthen your chickens’ eggs. That’s because Vitamin D3 helps to regulate calcium absorption, so naturally, the more Vitamin D3 your chickens take in, the easier it’ll be to absorb that much-needed calcium. Vitamin D3 deficiency is largely a problem in the winter, so ensure you’re giving them Vitamin D-enriched feed during those colder months.
Add other micro-elements
Calcium is one of the most important micro-elements that affect the quality of your chickens’ eggs. However, there are other micro-elements that play a role in egg quality, too. Zinc, manganese, and coppers are all involved in the mineralization process during eggshell formation. Check your chicken feed to ensure that these micro-elements are included.
Use layer feed
Layer feed provides many of the above nutrients that can enhance egg production and produce hard shells. If you’ve been raising chicks, you’ve likely been providing grower feed to help them grow. However, once they start producing eggs, it’s time to switch them to layer feed.
Still have questions on how to get higher quality eggs? Then feel free to contact us over at Chickens for Backyards. We’ll be able to answer any further questions you have regarding the health of your chickens and their eggs.