Your Chicken Questions Answered by a Veterinarian. Honest and Practical Advice

Why are my chicken’s eggs soft or brittle

There are many different reasons why your hens could be laying brittle, soft or thin-shelled eggs. In this article, we will be going through the reasons why this can happens as well as 5 tips to improve egg quality.

The age of your flock

One of the most common but least concerning reasons for softer of thin-shelled eggs is the maturity of the flock. If your hens have only recently started laying there is a high possibility that the eggs will be softer and smaller in size.

This usually changes as the birds start getting older so do not be alarmed if the first few eggs your hens lay aren’t to the quality you were expecting from ‘free-range hens’, they will more than likely improve as time goes on.

If you have new hens, its worth checking that they are consuming the right feed for their age and there is substantial calcium in their diet.

Calcium deficiency

A second reason for poor quality eggs may be due to calcium deficiency, another issue that can be easily solved by adding a calcium supplementation to your hen’s diet or choosing a feed with higher levels of calcium (laying feed).

This can sometimes take some time so don’t be alarmed if the results aren’t instant. The hen’s body needs to adjust and add the correct amount of calcium to the shell when being created inside of the hen’s body.

Grower vs Laying feed

Another reason your hen’s eggs may be brittle is that they aren’t having the right feed according to their age.

When chickens are in their “young teenage years” they require growing feed which contains more proteins and other essentials which are crucial when the hens are still developing. The growing feed contains less calcium than the standard “laying feed” which is why you may see soft or brittle shells from your hens if they are young.

Once your hens have matured they should be transferred to laying feed which contains more calcium and allows them to produce eggs that have stronger and thicker shells. In most cases, slightly under-developed eggs from a young flock are usually of no concern.

Stress and discomfort

A final and more serious reason could be due to the hens experiencing some type of discomfort, this can be anything from being bullied inside the coop to the harshness of the environment. It can be hard to pinpoint what specific factor out of the above is causing the problem which is why we recommend trying to maintain the highest quality of living for your hens for optimum egg yields.

Lack of space

An over-crowded space can heavily impact the egg production of a hen. Not having enough space can hinder the quality of the eggs that the chicken lays and reduce the amount that she lays per year.

As well as this, having an unsubstantial amount of space for your hens can lead to more severe issues like illnesses as diseases are more easily spread in confined environments. We recommend that each chicken has a minimum of 4 square foot of space.

2 chickens =8 square feet of space (minimum)
3 chickens =12 square feet of space (minimum)
4 chickens =16 square feet of space (minimum)
5 chickens =20 square feet of space (minimum)
6 chickens =24 square feet of space (minimum)
7 chickens =28 square feet of space (minimum)
8 chickens =32 square feet of space (minimum)
9 chickens=36 square feet of space (minimum)
10 chickens =40 square feet of space (minimum)
The minimum amount of space that chickens need. Note: free-range hens require more space, 20-25 square foot of space typically, but this figure varies depending on your location,


Your chicken being ill could be another reason behind your hen laying soft-shell eggs. If you’re sure that there could be no other possible explanation for the repeated production of soft egg-shells or your chicken is acting ill (not moving from the coop, not eating/drinking) then get advice from a vet or professional.

Soft-shell eggs sometimes, randomly occur and usually, they aren’t of much concern. However here are 5 quick tips that should help get the best possible eggs from your chickens.

1. Providing the correct food: To reduce the chances of soft/brittle eggs make sure to purchase a good quality feed that’s high in nutrients and specially designed for laying hens, this will mean the calcium along with other nutrients will be higher in order to obtain the best quality eggs. We recommend that your hens should get 80-90% of their food from a designated chicken feed however adding vegetables and fruit into their diet may be something you want to consider.

2. Environment: Making sure that your hens feel safe and secure in their environment is crucial if you want to get the best eggs possible. It’s best to make sure the hens have enough space, warmth, shelter, and food. With this objective, all met you will ensure healthier and happier hens leading to better eggs.

Space and shelter go hand in hand when it comes to keeping chickens in your back garden, the hens should have an outside area sheltered from the rain. The space per hen is also crucial as if the coop and run start to get too tight the number of hens fighting and causing harm to each other will significantly increase. For more information on this check out one of our other articles “how to stop my chickens from being bullied”.

3. Gathering eggs at least twice a day: A simple and easy way to minimize the risk of eggs cracking is to collect at least twice a day. This means that not only have you decreased the likelihood of eggs being damaged but have also decreased the likelihood for any bacteria entering the eggs (which is very common) especially if your hen’s eggs are slightly softer or brittle. This can be dangerous and lead to infections which are a whole other ball game and something your really want to prevent.

4. Light: Hens need at least 12 hours a day of light for optimum egg production, a way to make sure this amount of light is provided for your hens is by installing a light inside of the coop for the winter months. This can be put on a timer basically making the amount of light the eggs and hens recipe all year round very similar.

Not only does this increase the amount of light can also help to improve the quality of your eggs which is another reason why you may consider it especially if you are trying to improve the quality of your eggs.

5. Type of hen: something to consider before purchasing your hens is the number of eggs which different breeds lay per year, for more information about the different breeds as well as their advantages and disadvantages check out one of the other articles “Best chicken breeds for egg production”.

All in all its important to remember that with the correct care your hens should provide you with the best free-range eggs you’ve ever tasted. After having kept hens for over a decade we can assure you that they are not complicated creatures and the majority of the problems which you may be dealing with can be easily remedied.

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