|The wrinkled shell wonder laid by our hen.|
A pretty little tan colored egg was ready for me that morning as I awoke at 6:30. A peace offering I think, but this guard can’t be bribed so easily. I ran out to do some errands and was headed back home when my husband gave me a call. He told me that he found something weird in Vixey’s shavings. An egg; a bad egg. Two eggs in just three hours. Hmmm…My curiosity piqued, I hurried home, at the safe and respectable speed limit. Sure enough, waiting for me on the counter when I arrived was the salvaged pieces of the bad egg he’d scooped up from the shavings. Break out the gloves. It’s autopsy time.
|The thin, leathery shell just couldn't contain a yolk that big and bold!|
I first consulted: The Chicken Encyclopedia and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, both by Gail Damerow. I love The Chicken Encyclopedia for its ability to be quickly and easily accessed for reference to topics. I can get the cold, hard facts without sifting through chapters after chapters of a book. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens is an absolute go-to book for the things you need a detailed, comprehensive explanation on. Breaking down the who/what/when/where/why for the chicken keeper is what has made this book an essential part of the chicken keeper’s library.
|Notice the lower egg has a very different, very odd shape. (Photo:Janet Garman; Timber Creek Farm)|
Egg Shape: “…An egg’s shape is established in the part of the oviduct called the isthmus, where the yolk and white are wrapped in shell membranes. An egg that for some reason gets laid after being enclosed in membranes, but before the shell is added, has the same shape as if it had a shell. Each hen lays eggs of a characteristic shape, so you can usually identify which hen laid a particular egg by its shape.”
|This egg has a wrinkled, rubbery outer membrane.|
(Photo: Kate Richards; Farmhouse 38)
Thin Shells: “…may cover a pullet’s first few eggs or the eggs of a hen that’s getting on in age. In a pullet, thin shells occur because the pullet isn’t yet fully geared up for egg production. In an old biddy, the same amount of (or less) shell material that once covered a small egg must now cover the larger egg laid by the older hen, stretching the shell into thinner layer.”
Soft Shells or Missing Shells: “…occur when a hen’s shell forming mechanism malfunctions or for some reason one of her eggs is rushed through and laid prematurely. Stress induced by fright or excitement can cause a hen to expel an egg before the shell is finished. A nutritional deficiency, especially of vitamin D or calcium, can cause soft shells.”
Pale Shells: “…An older hen typically lays eggs with paler shells than those laid when she was younger. Once explanation is that as the hen ages and her eggs get larger, the brown-pigmented bloom must spread over a larger surface area. A younger layer that produces eggs with paler-than-usual shells may be suffering from stress. Overcrowded nests, rough handling, loud noises, and anything that makes a hen nervous or fearful can cause her to either lay her egg prematurely, before the brown-bloom coat is completed, or retain the egg long enough to add an extra layer of shell on top of the bloom.” (I would venture to say that the word brown could be substituted for white, blue, green, etc depending on the color eggs your hen lays)
While you are still online, you can check out these websites and articles that have some great information and photos about abnormalities that occur in egg laying:
|A beautiful speckled egg.|
(Photo: Lisa Steele; Fresh Eggs Daily)
|A lovely streaked egg.|
(Photo: Lisa Steele; Fresh Eggs Daily)
Be VERY sure you stop by my good friend Kate’s blog, Farmhouse 38, to see what funky egg her girls gifted her with. Her photographs in this post really help illustrate some of the truly weird things that can happen with laying!
As you can see, the occasional bad (or rather odd) egg can happen and isn’t necessarily a sign that your chicken is infected with a horrible disease. You should always be vigilant to the signs your chickens give you however, and if you start to see symptoms that indicate a bigger problem, please seek medical attention for your birds. Whether it’s a fluke occurrence or a side effect of illness, if you keep chickens then you will eventually find a crazy looking egg in your nest box one of these days. Lucky for Vixey, I learned that the stress from being separated from her gal-pals was proving to be a harder lesson for her than I planned. Solitary confinement was now over. Vixey has been pardoned and is now out in the yard with her friends again.
Bibliography of Books Cited (in order):
- Damerow, Gail. The Chicken Encyclopedia. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2012. Print.
- Damerow, Gail. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chicken, Third Edition. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2010. Print.
- Weaver, Sue. Hobby Farms Chickens, Second Edition. Irvine: BowTie Press, 2011. Print.
Links to Websites Cited (in order):
Credits to Photos Used (in order):
- Janet Garman; Timber Creek Farm
- Kate Richards; Farmhouse 38