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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11433
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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my pekin duck female has been laying soft shells for about 2 weeks

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What do you feed your duck?

Does she get any supplements?

Thank you for the additional information.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Anna's Post: lay crumble   worms and crickets

no supplements   i have only had ducks for 4 years and she is only my second female

she is still laying hard shell eggs too every 2-3 days is a soft shell

she also has a much paler bill than the other 3 we have and yesterday i noticed little black speckles on her bill
Thank you for getting back to me, Dorie. First, the black speckles on your duck's bill are nothing to worry about. The normal color of a duck's bill can range from pale yellow to solid black. Black speckles on a light bill are considered a fault in show ducks, but they rarely indicate a health problem.

Soft-shelled eggs can be caused by several different problems. If this is the duck's first laying season, it could be due to her youth. Young ducks sometimes lay some soft-shelled eggs at first. The most common cause of soft-shelled eggs, however, is not enough calcium in the diet. That doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. You're feeding a lay crumble which contains adequate calcium for most females, but some hens (whether ducks or chickens) just need more calcium than others. You can provide supplements in a separate container, not mixed with the feed. Female ducks will then eat as much as they need. In the USA, crushed oyster shells are commonly available in feed stores and farm stores. In the UK, poultry keepers often use lime flour, available where horse supplies are sold. No matter where you live, crushed egg shells are a good choice if you can get enough of them. The supplement should be left out at all times for the ducks. Sometimes a lack of vitamin D is the problem, for without vitamin D, calcium can't be utilized. Ducks that are allowed outside in the sunshine produce plenty of vitamin D in their bodies, so that's usually a problem only in poultry kept indoors.

Less commonly, soft-shelled eggs are caused by diseases. There are several adenoviruses that can do this. Some of them will cause no other symptoms, while others will eventually produce illness in the ducks. If the soft-shelled eggs continue after calcium supplementation, but no illness appears, one of the milder adenoviruses may be to blame. Newcastle disease can also begin with the laying of soft-shelled eggs. It's a serious disease and is usually fatal. There no treatments for viral diseases.

You may want to reconsider the feed you're using if you also have male ducks. Laying crumbles usually have too much calcium for male birds (because they aren't producing eggs) and that can lead to kidney problems. I feed my ducks a duck & goose feed, and provide a pan of ground oyster shell for the females. That way the males aren't getting too much calcium, and the hens can have all they want.

If you have further questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope the problem quickly resolves.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click on ACCEPT. Thank you.)
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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
thank you so much i will ask you again when i have questions     how long after i supplement w/ calcium should the shells be normal
You're welcome. I would think you'd see results within a couple of weeks if lack of calcium is the problem.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Please do, and you're welcome.