Ask the Vet
QIs it a good idea to give calcium supplements to a hen that lays an abnormally shelled egg? Opinions seem to differ.
AVictoria says: If a hen has been laying well she will need a rest at some stage and this is when anomalies, such as weak, misshapen or soft-shelled eggs, can occur. Please do not give extra calcium as plenty is provided in commercial layers’ pellets, nor feed too much grain or dilute the ration with treats. If she does not have enough calcium in her diet for good egg shells, she will take calcium from her bones which can weaken them — hence the ad lib provision of mixed grit. The insoluble grit becomes a grinding mechanism in the gizzard; the soluble oyster shell (calcium) is ground up in the gizzard and then absorbed from the intestines. If the hen has a disease which affects the shell gland, however, all her eggs will be adversely affected, no matter how much calcium is in her diet. The hen’s calcium regulation is tightly controlled. She will choose the size and type of grit according to her individual needs. Beware, however, as excess calcium can damage other organs in a healthy hen’s body.
Do not feed too much grain or dilute the ration with treats