Something I often get asked about is eggshells. Why my egg shells soft? Why are they lumpy? There can be many variations of a chicken egg!
Here are some generalised reasons for variations of an eggshell.
- Older hens: older hens in the final stage of production may have a higher incidence of fragile eggshells because the egg is larger and shell mineralization is less efficient.
- Juvenile poultry: in this age group, eggs can be produced as fragile because the eggshell mineralization process is not yet fully efficient.
- Animal welfare: high levels of stress affect multiple metabolic systems and processes, including those that regulate the egg formation and laying process. In poultry with low animal welfare standards, fragile eggs, predisposition to eggshell breakage, egg retention, hypercalcified eggs, and dirty or blood-stained eggs can occur.
- Feed: the levels of amino acids and minerals supplied in the diet should supplement the needs of laying poultry. Proper egg and shell formation depends largely on the poultry’s nutrition. Under conditions of inadequate nutrition, weak eggs with thin shells can be found.
Here are some of the more common egg shell variants and their meanings.
1. Bloody Eggs
More often than not, bloody eggs arise from pullets in early lay, or a hen coming back on the lay after winter. They can be more prominent in overweight hens, or from poor coop hygiene. Bloody eggs are generally not something to worry about, but you can double check their vent to make sure there is no prolapse if concerned.
2. Shell-less Eggs
Sometimes, you may find an egg with no shell whatsoever. They are protected only by a squishy membrane. Almost like a stress ball! Again, this may just be from a young pullet, or hen coming back on the lay. But, if you are finding this happens more often, you may have a nutritional deficiency on your hands. I would recommend a broad nutritional supplement such as one (or more) or our products in the Natural Blend Range – Calci-protein specifically targets chooks laying soft or shelless eggs, Anitone Supplement, or Livamol. Please also make sure you have calcium either in the form of crushed egg shells , or shell grit or calci-protein blend available at all times. We also have our calci-pack available to make this easy.
3. Wrinkled Eggs
These look like older skin. The have thinly creased and wrinkled surfaces. This can be due to stress or overcrowding. Check there is no reason for you chooks to be stressed and make sure you have adequate space for the number of chickens you own. Each chook needs 1m2 at a bare minimum.
If the white of an egg (or the Albumen as it is correctly known) is watery, it is harder for a shell to be formed correctly around the egg, and quite simply, this can cause an egg shell to be wrinkled or to have ripples on it.
Otherwise you could have an older hen with a defective shell gland, or a bronchial disease. Infectious bronchitis would show itself in other ways also, such as coughing, sneezing and low appetite.
4. Lumpy Eggs
This presents as small lumpy, pimply type calcifications on the eggs.
If there is debris of any kind in the oviduct as the shell is being formed, calcium can be released to enclose that debris.
That will result in rough patches or bumps on the shell. More common in older hens, they can also be the result of improper nutrition.
The deposits can normally be brushed off with your fingernail, although sometimes the shell will come away with them.
An egg with rough patches or bumps is okay to eat.
5. Oddly Shaped Eggs
Sometimes an egg is cracked in the shell gland pouch and then repaired before lay. Aren’t our chooks clever? This can be due to stress, overcrowding, or bird age.
6. White Calcium Deposits
These eggs have white, irregularly shaped spots deposited on the shell. This could be due to disturbances during calcification, a defective shell gland, or excess calcium in the diet. I recommend giving the chooks calcium in a separate dish – with a calci-pack. Chickens are actually very clever; they know just how much calcium they need and will eat it, when they need it. However if you don’t separate it, and instead add calcium to their feed then they could end up eating too much of it.
7. Thinly Shelled Eggs
Thinly shelled eggs are usually a sign of calcium deficiency. If you already have a calcium products available for your chooks, you may need to look at a full nutritional supplement as above in the ‘shell-less egg’ section. Calci-protein specifically targets chooks laying soft or shelless eggs. I would also look at reasons for stress, such as heat, cold or recent additions to your flock.
8. Lash Egg
Lash eggs may look like eggs, but they’re really a buildup of puss. These masses are caused by salpingitis, an inflammation of the chicken’s oviduct caused by an infection. If your chicken lays one of these masses, it’s a red flag. They may be suffering from a virus or bacterial infection. Lash eggs can be caused by various bacteria including E. coli, Salmonella, and more.
A lash egg is the expulsion of some of this infection material and, because it travels through the bird’s oviduct, comes out in the general shape of an egg. But it’s not an egg.
A lash egg is not necessarily a death sentence. While a chicken can die from this infection, it can also fight it off and go on to live a long life, though it may be less productive or stop producing eggs entirely.
Coliform salpingitis can be treated with antibiotics, however, when a lash egg is found, it’s often difficult to tell which chicken in a flock produced it. If you do know which hen laid the lash egg, it is recommended to get to a Vet for some antibiotics.
Many chicken owners who find lash eggs simply wait to see if the afflicted chicken can fight off the illness on their own — which is sometimes possible if the bird has a strong immune system. I recommend using a natural immunity booster such as Spice Blend.
In addition, cleaning the coop and nesting boxes, supplying the flock with fresh food and water, and reducing stress can have a positive impact on the chicken’s overall health and may help it recover.
9. Egg inside an egg
8. Egg inside an egg
The fancy name for an egg inside an egg is counter-peristalsis contraction, but in everyday terms, they’re eggs that somehow found themselves inside another egg.
It’s not common, but it does happen.
It occurs when a hen releases a second egg into the oviduct before the first egg has completed the laying process. This causes the first egg to reverse in the oviduct, which is then added to the second egg.
The two then have a second albumen and shell form encasing both eggs.
Sometimes, if you have exhausted all these options, you find you just have a slight genetic anomaly in the chicken. Everyones different.