Chicken Keeping: Why Do My Chickens Lay Soft or Thin-Shelled Eggs?

There's nothing like taking a walk out to the coop to gather a basket full of freshly laid eggs.  Greeting the girls as they anxiously chat about whether or not I have any delicious goodies with me is, by far, my favorite part.  What isn't such a good time is when I pull out either soft or thin-shelled eggs that break in my hands.

Word spreads faster than you can blink and immediately I'm surrounded by contentious chickens with voracious appetites for eggs.  In our flock Little Lizzie {all 1 or 2 pounds of her} is the most aggressive when it comes to something as delicious as eggs.  She hops up on your arm to steal the coveted egg yolk dripping from your fingers before the others can get in on the action.

Not so enjoyable - mostly because you don't want them to like the taste of raw eggs or you could end up with chickens who eat their own eggs.

So, why the abnormal shells?  I get asked this question frequently and thought it about time to answer it here.

It can be normal for either a pullet who has just begun laying or for an older hen toward the end of her egg-laying cycle to lay this type of egg from time-to-time.  It's not, however, normal for chickens not in either of those categories to lay thin or soft-shelled eggs.  In this case, it could mean the hen is stressed, or that there's a nutritional deficiency - lack of Vitamin D or Calcium.

What to do?  If it happens once or very rarely, it's probably not something to worry about.  However, if it happens more often or with one or more hens, it would be beneficial to take a look at the potential cause of stress or see if you've got nutritional issues with your flock.  Did you recently introduce new chickens to the flock?  Did they recently switch coops?  Has it been hot and humid for a long stretch?  Did you recently make a change in their food?  Do you have oyster shell readily available?  If not, that's a good place to start.  These are all possibilities.

Have you had shells like this in your own flock?

Additional chicken-keeping posts:
When Will My Chickens Start Laying?  And Other Egg-Laying Questions
Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Health
Dealing With Worms In Chickens
Prolapsed Vent - How To Treat It


  1. There's so much to know. Glad I have your posts for referral when we have our own flock.
    It seems so cannibalistic for them to eat the eggs. Didn't know they did that.

  2. That usually means they need shell grit with their food Staci. This sorts it out fairly quickly. :)

  3. Thanks Daisy. They LOVE eggs. :)

    Thanks Marilyn, yes, usually oyster shell. :)


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