I have a problem with the eggs that my hens are laying. They do not lay very much now, which I was expecting, but when they do the shell is so thin that I often put my finger straight through it. Do you have any idea if this is normal for an elderly ex-battery hen?

Victoria Roberts says: The hens are what are called hybrid layers and these can be prone to problems of this kind. The birds are bred to be egg laying machines and are designed to give a maximum output of eggs but they do reach a stage when this does slow down – and are replaced with younger, more productive hens.

You can do several things that may help, which are quite simple to fit in to the daily routine and management of the birds. Birds need calcium and protein to produce eggs with good quality shells, so if there is a lack of these in their diet the results may be the soft or thin shelled eggs that you are experiencing. To correct this problem it is a good idea to supply the birds with some additives. These can come in the form of Cod Liver Oil and a good quality poultry vitamin. By using these you will help the birds to increase the amounts of calcium and protein that they need to produce the shell.

Use a tablespoonful of cod liver oil mixed well into the feed two or three times, plus add a liquid vitamin into the drinking water as recommended by the manufacturer.

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