Soft shelled egg

This morning when I collected the eggs from my coop, I noticed something wrong with one of Bertie’s eggs – the shell was soft and malleable.

She isn’t deficient in calcium (she has shell grit frequently), so I thought I’d do some investigating (aka a google search), as this is the first time I’ve found an unusual egg.

Backyard chickens have a great link that mentions a whole range of reasons for problems relating to egg quality.

She has recently finished moulting, so it may be due to that. I will certainly keep an eye on her if anymore appear.

Bertie’s walk

Bertie joined us when she was a pullet (a young chicken that has not yet started laying eggs). Shortly after her arrival, I noticed that she didn’t walk normally. She tends to place one foot right in front of the other.

bertie-03

She is now almost a year older and it hasn’t gotten any worse. While at the vet clinic earlier this week, I brought it up with the vet.

Apparently for Bertie, it is likely that while she was growing (before she joined our family) she had a deficiency in important nutrients/vitamins which has affected her balance and the way she walks.

Fortunately for Bertie her balance is still quite good and she gets around okay, albeit a little awkwardly. She has never roosted though, and tends to sleep lying on the floor of the coop. The vet believes this may be because she does not have enough balance to comfortably perch all night on the roost.

What to feed a hen that won’t eat layer pellets

I am still working on the answer to this question.

Doreen and Bertie both refuse to eat layer pellets. I’ve tried different brands and different sized pellets, yet they still refuse to eat it. Secretly, I’m happy that they won’t because in all honesty I have no idea where the food has come from and how it has been processed and whether there are any GMOs in it.

My main concern with this is that they won’t be getting the right balance of food for their little bodies. More so for Bertie who lays every day or two. Doreen gave up on that a long time ago.

It also doesn’t help that I have a fussy hen. Who knew? Apparently chickens will eat anything. That saying does not apply to Doreen.

So, until I get further advice from my vet, this is what they get for breakie:
– some delicious rockmelon (Doreen’s absolute favourite)
– seeds: sesame, pepitas, sunflower, flax, chia
– rolled oats
– blueberries (not too many otherwise they’ll get the runs – learnt that the hard way)
– sometimes some cucumber
– shell grit (important for calcium)

I often add extra things to try and find foods they’ll eat. Sometimes I get lucky. Most of the time I do not.

I tried sprouting my own lentils, which apparently some chickens go nuts over. The sprouting was actually really easy, however the chickens didn’t eat any of it. I unfortunately threw a fair few on the lawn, and now have lentil seedlings scattered throughout the grass.

While not specifically for breakfast, they do get sardines and tuna quite frequently. Sardines are great for vitamin A (advice from my vet), and they’re both a good dose of protein.

Oh such fussy hens!

My chicken has spurs

Bertie has grown some wicked spurs on the back of her legs. I will admit that when they first started to show, I was concerned. Mostly that she might have actually been a he.

I have no problem with roosters, and would happily have one, however the laws here don’t allow it (in suburban backyards). My concern was that if she was a rooster and started crowing, the neighbours would complain and I’d be forced to give her up.

Bertie is definitely female, so that will not be a problem – she just also happens to have some pretty awesome spurs on the back of her legs. I’ve since learnt this is quite common with some breeds of chicken.

I am considering having them removed though, or at least filed back. She walks a little awkwardly, with one foot directly in front of the other (she’s done this since she joined our little flock). Now that the spurs are almost an inch long, it’s affecting the way she walks.

She tends to lift one leg right up, before moving forward and I think it’s because the spur is in the way. I’m concerned that in the long run it may cause problems with her feet or legs.

I’ll be taking both her and Doreen to the vet soon, so I’ll see what they say and go from there.