Nancy’s Soft Eggs

Nancy Drew should be one of the best layers of my flock. She’s a Black Star, which is a hybrid designed to lay brown eggs day in and day out.

She does go into the nesting box.



She even lays eggs. Once a week I collect a perfect brown egg. I know it’s hers because she’s the only one of the group that lays an egg that color. But, most days she lays soft-shelled eggs that look and feel like water balloons. If I don’t find an egg, it’s likely because Nancy Drew, or one of the other hens, has eaten it. Soft eggs break easily and the chickens find them irresistibly delicious. That sort of egg eating can lead to the bad habit of egg-breaking and eating, but it hasn’t happened. Her eggs are so unlike the hard-shelled ones laid by everyone else that I don’t think that the hens have made the connection.

It can be hard on a hen to lay a soft-shelled egg. They’re squishy and don’t slip out easily like smooth, correctly formed eggs. I worry about her. Sometimes soft eggs are caused by a poor diet. But, I know that’s not the case here. Not only do I feed the girls exactly the right foods, but the other hens lay perfect eggs, and so I know that this is a problem unique to Nancy Drew. I don’t know what her issue is, but it isn’t something that I can fix. A hen having laying difficulty is not that unusual. Commercial flocks have plenty of these, but five out of hundreds don’t stand out. However, in a flock of only six layers, one hen that isn’t doing her job is obvious. If I was a homesteader, depending on my animals for food, then she’d be going into the stew pot. Luckily for Nancy, I don’t need to eat her. But, she will earn her keep. She has a nice, classic, steady, chicken personality. Nancy will be my next school visit hen.



  1. …and she is so cute!

    Out of my 5 new bantams, I still have one that is not laying at all (they are now 6 1/2 months old), and one that had trouble, developed an infection (treated by my chicken vet) and although now healthy, hasn’t laid any eggs since. My feeling is the same as yours Terry. Even if they never lay any eggs, they will live out their lives here. They and their laying sisters are my peace, quiet and joy! My neighbors must sometimes think I’m crazy – I have a stool up in the chicken yard, and at least once a day go and sit, watching them, talking to them, letting them fly up and sit on my shoulders and knees, watch them forage and interact. Even as I write this I think – yep, if I was my neighbor and watched me I would think I was crazy. Don’t care! It’s the best therapy ever lol!

  2. Off subject but I just observed something funny on the hen cam: Evidently Phoebe was in a hurry to get to her
    “bathroom” spot and rushed pass Twiggy. Twiggy tried to give Phoebe a peck as she went by but I think Phoebe was too fast! When you got to go, you gotta go!

  3. I think Nancy Drew will be great on school visits. Our Black Stars have the most personality and curiosity out of all our hens. The kids will love her!

  4. Nancy is a beautiful hen and I bet the kids will love her big red comb. I have the same problem with my 1.5 year old BR Scarlett who has about the same egg-laying track record as Nancy. 1-2 hard-shelled eggs per week and 3-5 softies. I hoped it was diet related but unless she has some secret stash of spaghetti or oatmeal, she is eating the same as the other two normal egg laying girls. I am just hoping that she will molt soon and the break will give her time to reset her egg-laying machinery.

  5. This must be “The Secret of the Black Star at Little Pond Farm” which Nancy Drew must set out to solve. Where oh where are Bess and George when Nancy needs them (maybe Pip and Caper can be stand ins)?? I loved your blog this morning about the horses in your life, past, present and future!

  6. Oh dear, I hope Nancy Drew will be alright. She is very beautiful, she looks to be a big classic hen that I would love to own one day. At least she has a good life with you Terry. What is the prognosis for a situation as hers? Is it just ‘take it a day at a time’ kind of thing?

  7. We have a New Hampshire Red who has had a similar issue off and on for over a year and I have yet to figure out what it is! We have a small flock & they all have the same high-quality feed, same free-range access, and same access to supplemental calcium sources. Over the summer, the shells seemed more consistent & solid, but now that they’re all starting to molt, her soft-shelled eggs have returned. Maybe there’s something to it there with the molting? She seems to do well otherwise though and she’s a sweetheart – the kind of chicken that follows you around the yard like a puppy, so no worries about her keeping her home with us – eggs or not!

  8. My chicken vet told me that sometimes a vitamin D deficiency can cause problems with eggshells – something about not being able to use their calcium efficiently when they don’t have enough vitamin D, I think it was. I squeezed a 2000 IU vitamin D capsule onto some yogurt for her a couple times a week and it helped my girl who was having a problem. Even if you’re still having sunshine, the chickens aren’t getting as much vitamin D as they were during the summer, so a deficiency can happen.

  9. I identify completely with Lynda. My chicken coop and run was a family-built mother’s day present from my husband and son and father-in-law last spring. We now have 15 hens and two roosters (2 RI Reds, 3 Ameracaunas, 3 Cochins, 2 Wyandottes, 3 Silkies and 4 Australorps). I asked for this particular present because I figured it would bring back good memories of time spent at my grandparents’ home and it would be a way to get my son outside and engaged in the world around him. I also think I instinctively knew it would be good therapy for me after going through the process of getting tenure at my university. I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to watch these ladies (and Cowboy and Lenny) grow. Throw into the mix two very interested two dogs and a cat… it gets very entertaining and is wonderful for the spirit.

  10. Thank you for posting this! I have one chicken with soft eggs and I’ve been worried about her. I still am, but this answers whether or not I can help her.