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Why Does my Chicken Egg Look Weird?

I get asked fairly often (and sent all kinds of crazy photos via email!) about all kinds of eggshell issues: over-sized eggs, undersized eggs, bumps, ridges, tiny spots, speckles,soft shells. You name it. If you raise chickens, you'll eventually see all kinds of eggs that look weird.

Most are nothing to worry about.

When you think about it, considering a chicken lays an egg about once a day, and all the stops along its journey have to be firing with all pins for the egg to come out, it's pretty amazing that 99% of them come out just perfect! There's so much that could potentially go wrong, I guess, with that rate of production.

But every once in awhile an egg will invariably pop out that looks...well, weird.

Why Does my Chicken Egg Look Weird?

Although an egg is often a good representation of overall hen health, i.e. healthy hens who are fed a well-balanced diet lay the most uniform, beautiful eggs, an abnormal egg every once in awhile is actually pretty normal.

Most 'odd eggs' are nothing to be concerned about. Most are a one-time thing. I would recommend keeping a close eye on which ever hen laid the odd egg, but not worry unless it becomes a regular occurrence.That can be an indication of a more serious health issue.

Here are some of the more common egg oddities you might run across...


Odd-Shaped Eggs

Egg color is determined by a chicken's breed. However, egg shape is very individual to a particular hen. Eggs can be round or pointed, thick or thin. A hen will lay generally the same size/shape egg every time (although her eggs will slowly get larger as she ages). But every once in awhile an egg can come out be oddly-shaped out of the blue.

Sometimes odd-shaped eggs can by symptoms of the avian flu, the viral egg drop syndrome, or infectious bronchitis, but if they occur regularly, that might just be the shape egg that hen lays. Odd-shaped eggs are nothing to worry about and instead are usually just the specific chicken's "calling card".

Odd-Shaped Egg are okay to eat.

Blood on the Eggshell

Often new layers will bleed a bit when they lay their first few eggs. It's nothing to worry about generally and should stop as the lay a few more eggs.  However, if the bloody eggshells continue, then they could be due to a prolapsed vent which can lead to vent pecking or cannibalism by other flock members.

Once you rinse the blood off, the eggs are okay to eat.


"Wind" or "Fairy" Eggs

These are the tiny marble-sized eggs you might often find from new layers.Just a glitch where the shell begins to form without a yolk being released, so a far smaller shell encases just the egg white.

It's common in young layers before their bodies have everything all sorted out. Fairy eggs won't hatch if you try to incubate them, because even if there is a yolk inside, the shell isn't large enough to allow embryo growth.

Fairy eggs are okay to eat.  

Double Yolked Eggs

The flip side of the coin are double yolkers

When two egg yolks are released too close together in the oviduct, sometimes the white (and shell) will encase them both, resulting in a gigantic egg.

While a double yolk egg is generally nothing to worry about, if you have a hen laying them consistently, I would keep a close eye on her for egg binding, a potentially life-threatening situation.

Double yolked eggs are okay to eat. 

An Egg Inside an Egg

Similar to a double yolked egg, when two yolks are released in fast succession, sometimes one egg ends up completely enclosed inside another egg. Sometimes a fairy egg ends up inside another egg. Either way, it's very rare (in over 11 years, I've never seen one in person!).

An egg inside an egg is okay to eat.


Striations in Coloring


If two eggs end up in the shell gland pouch at the same time and touch each other, that can result in odd bands of color or other markings on the shell. 

Striated eggs are okay to eat.


Speckled Eggs


As an egg travels down the oviduct, it spins. If it spins too fast, the egg can appear 'smeared'. If it turns too slowly, it can end up being speckled with pigment. Many hens (commonly, Welsummers and Cuckoo Marans) lay speckled eggs regularly. It can often be a genetic trait.

Speckled eggs are okay to eat.


White Spots or Crust

Tiny spots on the egg or small dots that look like fish eggs are often calcium deposits. If the hen is eating too much calcium, her eggs might end up with these deposits. 

Another cause of the calcium deposits can be that your chickens are receiving too much vitamin D3 in their diet.

This can lead to an overload of calcium in the blood called hypercalcemia and can lead to heart and liver damage.  Feeding a good-quality, reputable chicken feed is very important to be sure they are getting the correct balance of nutrients.


One solution is to always feed crushed eggshell or oyster shell free choice in a separate dish from the feed, so each hen can eat as much or as little as she need.

Eggs with white spots are okay to eat.


Rough Patches or Bumps on the Shell

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. 


Wrinkled Eggs

More common in older layers, wrinkled eggs or eggs with ridges or uneven layers in the shell can also be caused by stress.  If the hen is startled while laying, such as by a dog barking, predator lurking, thunderstorm or other abnormal stressor, the shell can end up with a ridge in the surface.

As a hen ages, the whites (or albumen) in their eggs naturally gets thinner, and since it's more difficult for the shell to encase a watery substance, the shell can end up with bumps and ridges. Heat stress can also cause a wrinkled egg surface, as can poor overall nutrition, or a defective shell gland.

But there could be a more serious reason for the wrinkles. They are often an indication that the hen had Infectious Bronchitis at
 some point in her life or could be a symptom of mycotoxins in your flock's feed.

Wrinkled eggs can also be a precursor to a lash egg (see below).

While aesthetically not the prettiest, wrinkled eggs are okay to eat. Even if the hen has Infectious Bronchitis, because the disease is not transmitted 
through the egg. 

Mended Eggs

Sometimes an eggshell will crack during the laying process, but will repair itself before the egg is laid. You'll end up with an egg with a raised band around the circumference of the egg. This can happen due to stress while the egg was being laid or incorrect lighting in the coop. More common in older hens.

Mended eggs are okay to eat.


Soft-Shelled Eggs

Soft-shelled eggs are usually due to a lack of calcium or Vitamin D in the diet, but there can be other reasons for shells being soft, including a diet that includes too much spinach. Sometimes soft-shelled eggs can be a precursor to a lash egg (see below). 

They can occur as a result of heat stress or too much salt in the chicken's diet. Soft-shelled eggs are more common in older hen since their eggs tend to be larger and therefore more surface area for the eggshell to cover.

Soft shelled eggs should NOT be eaten if they are cracked. If not, they're likely okay to eat.

Shell-less Eggs

Similar to a soft-shelled egg, but having no shell at all encasing the egg membrane. If its a one-time thing, it's likely just a glitch, or possibly inadequate calcium or Vitamin D in the hens diet, a condition called hypocalcemia which can lead to paralysis or even death. 

It's important to get your chickens outside year round because the UV rays in sunlight is the best way to ensure your chickens are getting the Vitamin D they need. Light coming in through a window isn't sufficient because the UV rays are blocked by the glass.

A regularly, recurring shell-less egg issue could also be a sign of avian flu or infectious bronchitis.
 


Lash Eggs

One type of weird egg to be concerned about is a lash egg. You may have heard of them, but in nearly a decade of chicken keeping, I've never collected one personally, so they aren't all that common.

What I do know though is that they are NOT an automatic death sentence for the hen as you may have read or been told. However, it is a cause for concern about the hen that laid it.

 
A lash egg can be the sign of an infection in the oviduct, usually E.coli or mycoplasma. 

A lash egg is not technically an "egg" at all, but instead is a rubbery mass that a hen sometimes lays near the end of her laying cycle. According to the experts at Your Chickens magazine, it is actually part of the chicken's reproductive system that breaks down and collapses and ends up being expelled through the oviduct.



A hen will not generally lay any more eggs after passing a lash egg, and will often die within a couple of months.

More common in commercial layers, hens forced to lay year round and older or overweight hens, lash eggs often don't show up in backyard flocks until later in life - if at all. 

Antibiotics can be administered if you know which hen laid the lash egg, or a more natural route of adding apple cider vinegar to the water and some fresh or dried oregano to your flock's diet to act as a natural antibiotic.

Lash eggs should NOT be eaten.

Normally an odd egg is just a one-time glitch and nothing to worry about, but it's always good to have something to reference....just in case.


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