Saturday, 17 October 2015

Soft Shelled-Eggs

IN my early years as turkey farmer I remember checking my coop for up to ten times a day hoping to pick an egg! I was always eager to lay my hands on an egg and each time I found one the feeling was great. I still love picking the eggs each day but I no more do it ten times a day!

A Soft-Shelled Egg

My first experience with a soft-shelled egg was quite scary. When I saw the egg I quickly realized something was not right from the way the egg was lying on the floor. When I picked it up, I realized the egg had a shell alright but the egg was so soft I could push it in! Note that there is difference between soft-shelled and no-shell egg.

Non-shelled eggs don't have shells at all! The egg is covered with just a membrane which is very soft and smooth compared to the hard-gritty shell. Soft-shelled eggs however have shell but is badly formed. 

They have shell but is badly formed

As I indicated earlier when I saw the egg I instinctively knew it was not normal. I rushed in and did some internet research to see if anything was wrong. It has been several years now since that experience. I have since come into contact with several soft-shelled eggs. Most people are interested in knowing what causes turkeys to lay soft-shelled eggs.

Calcium is a vital part in the formation of egg shells

There are several factors responsible for turkeys laying such eggs. Some of them are:

  1. Poor Diet: Most of the modern poultry feeds have balanced nutrients optimizing the growth of the birds. However some backyard farmers tend to mix their own feeds. Non-balanced feed has drastic consequence on the overall development of the animal. Egg laying turkeys need high level of calcium. Calcium plays vital role in the formation of the shell. However calcium needs other minerals and vitamins like protein and phosphorous which eventually helps in its metabolism. Feeding your turkeys with diets low in vital ingredients will result in them laying soft-shelled eggs.
  2. Laying Too Many Eggs: At a clutch, turkeys normally lay between 13 and 16 eggs before going broody. However when the hen tends to lay beyond that number, the demand for extra shell forming materials may not be met by the hen's body. This will result in the animal laying poorly formed eggs.
  3. Over Aged Hen: The maximum egg laying age of turkeys depend on the breed. However when a hen lays for several years, the body begins to give in failing to produce enough shell-forming materials.
  4. Mineral Absorption Defects: Another cause of soft-shelled eggs is the inability of the bird to absorb vital minerals from the diet. Several diseases may be responsible for this and unless the issue is addressed, the creature will continue to lay such egg. If unchecked, the condition can be fatal.
  5. Stress: Laying eggs is a stressing experience for birds. As much as possible, farmers do their best to reduce such stress. However when other factors increases the stress, the creatures may lay eggs which may be malformed.
The list is no way exhaustive of the causes of soft-shelled eggs but they are some of the common causes of the strange eggs that we see.

Your comments are welcomed as always!

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