Weird chicken eggs are just one of those things that happen from time to time, but they can be kinds of a shock if you’re not sure why they were laid in the first place.
We’ve gotten quite a few of them over the years, and usually they mean nothing, but sometimes they can be an indicator of your chickens health.
In this episode of What The Cluck?! we look at 10 common weird chicken eggs and their meaning.
(Want pro advice about raising backyard chickens? Grab a copy of my Kindle book, Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock!)
- About 10 common weird chicken eggs and why they happen
- What they might mean about your hens health
- Some ideas to avoid them
- Which weird chicken egg you should take very seriously
Links we discuss:
10 Abnormal Chicken Eggs (for photo references)
Hi there, and welcome to session 16 of What the Cluck?!, a podcast devoted to keeping chickens for fun and self-sufficiency. I’m Maat from FrugalChicken, and in this episode we are going to talk about weird chicken eggs.
And these are eggs you may or may not see in your chicken keeping career, but they’re good to know about anyway. Being forearmed with this information might help to quell any of the anxiety or worry that might creep up when you come across weird chicken eggs.
We’ll get into about 10 different weird chicken eggs you may come across and whether they’re something to be concerned about.
This will be a valuable episode that’s full of advice you can use today.
So stay with me!
Now before we get started, I just want to briefly mention a company that I love and that’s Thrive Market. Now, the reason I’m telling you about them is because it’s where I source organic items I use on my homestead.
So when it comes to your chickens, having raw, organic items on hand, such as honey, becomes extremely important if a chicken, or any animal really, becomes injured and I personally source all of my raw organic honey from Thrive.
If you don’t know what Thrive Market is, it’s an online organic supermarket, and it’s a little like Costco meets your favorite farmers market. Thrive Market is membership site, and their products are anywhere from 15% to 20% cheaper than I’ve found elsewhere.
I value my Thrive Market membership, and love that their products are ethically sourced, and I feel confident buying from them that I’m doing the best I can for our environment.
Another thing I love about Thrive Market is that for every membership they sell to someone like you or me, they give a membership to a family in need. So, it really is shopping for products you will use anyway in a way that benefits other people too.
You can join Thrive Market at thefrugalchicken.com/thrive, and that is an affiliate link, so thank you if you decide to use it.
Now, let’s get on to why we’re here. And just as a reminder, you can access this podcast’s show notes at TheFrugalChicken.com/podcast16, that’s Podcast one six all one word.
So, weird chicken eggs. You may come across them or you may not. A majority of egg-laying chickens won’t regularly lay weird eggs. But these weird chicken eggs can certainly be a head scratcher when they do, and they might indicate a health issue, so that’s why we’re talking about them today.
Because of time, we’ll only talk about 10 today, and in a future episode, we’ll talk about other weird chicken eggs you might come across.
So, what exactly are the weird chicken eggs we’ll talk about? They are:
- Soft shell or no shell eggs
- Lash eggs, and we’ll get into what those are and what you can do about it
- Incomplete pigmentation
- Bumps on your eggs
- Very small eggs, and these are tiny, quail egg size eggs we’re talking about
- Double and triple yolked eggs
- White banded eggs
- Egg inside an egg and if you’ve never seen one, it’s pretty impressive
- Speckled eggs
- Odd shaped eggs
So here’s the thing about weird chicken eggs. While they might indicate a health issue, more often than not, they just happen, especially if your chickens have laid a weird egg only once or once in a blue moon.
Although they can mean your chicken is sick or stressed, they aren’t necessarily something to be concerned about, and like people, sometimes weird things just happen, with no portend for the future.
Your chickens are live animals, and sometimes, just like humans, things go awry without explanation.
It’s important not to get too concerned about weird chicken eggs when you come across one. While they can indicate a problem, your best bet is to watch your flock for signs of stress or illness, and not get too worked up about it.
Now, there are a couple of exceptions to this advice, which we will get into at the appropriate time in this discussion.
But first of all, a disclaimer. We’re going to talk about veterinary stuff today such as diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and how to remedy these things, but it’s important to remember that although I’m a chicken expert and keep abreast on the latest poultry research probably better than some vets out there, I am not a certified vet in any state.
So, although I am very confident in the information I will give you today and have gathered my information based on my own experience coupled with established research from well-regarded universities and organizations, this is a legal disclaimer.
This information is reflective of my own opinion and use it at your discretion.
If you think your chicken is sick, please do contact a qualified poultry veterinarian, and I will put in the show notes where you can locate one near you.
So, let’s get into the weird chicken eggs you might encounter.
- Soft Shell/No Shell Eggs
First on our list of weird chicken eggs are soft shell eggs, and you might also see one without a shell. These eggs are kind of cool, and they might be missing the whole shell or just part of it, but in this case, the membrane is still intact, so it looks like a regular egg, but its soft and squishy.
Or, your egg might have a shell on it, but the shell is very thin or squishy as well. If you come across one of these weird chicken eggs, I don’t recommend squishing it unless you want to get a mess all over yourself, just be warned.
So, why does this happen? Well, adding the shell over the membrane is one of the last steps to producing eggs, and sometimes, for a variety of reasons, that step is skipped.
So, if you came across a soft shell egg, you should first look at the age of your chicken. Pullets will sometimes lay these eggs as her first, and it happens typically because her body just needs to get used to making eggs.
Another reason is if your pullet has been eating a grower ration or foraging for her diet, she might not have enough calcium in her body to create a shell. Hens that have been laying a while, and who have been getting the right amount of calcium, will either pull calcium from her diet, or lacking that, from the medullary part of her bones.
So a pullet that has laid a soft shell egg may not have access to enough calcium from her diet, and there’s not enough of a storage of calcium in her bones to draw from. Hence, soft shell eggs.
Just start feeding her a calcium supplement such as oyster shells, and the issue should clear right up.
In established layers, there’s a few reasons she might lay a soft shell eggs. One common reason might be she simply isn’t getting enough calcium or protein in her diet.
If your chicken is left to forage or perhaps you have many birds and one isn’t getting enough to eat, then this is one reason why she might lay a weird chicken egg like this.
Another reason might be inflammation of the oviduct, while a third possibility is some sort of stress like heat stress. Hens also coming back into laying can lay soft shell eggs also.
Now a fourth reason is if the previous egg she laid stayed too long in her oviduct, causing the soft shell egg to be released too soon – meaning it skipped the final step and was laid too soon.
- Lash Eggs
So, next on our list of weird chicken eggs are lash eggs. So, what is a lash egg?
These aren’t real eggs, but rather a collection of pus, dead cells, liquid, egg material, and possibly tissue laid by the hen. It can be soft or hard, and is comprised of layers of this shed material.
It’s shaped like an egg because it passes through the oviduct.
These weird chicken eggs are caused by an infection called Salpingitis, which according to the Merck Veterinary Manual is an inflammation of the oviduct.
It’s usually caused by bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, among others. Lash eggs are generally shaped like eggs, since they still travel through the oviduct.
So, there’s some debate among chicken experts about what to do when you come across lash eggs. A common piece of advice is to cull the hen if she lays one, and I see this advice doled out on Facebook a lot.
I don’t agree with this advice. If your hen lays a lash egg, my first piece of advice is to consult a qualified poultry vet, and my second piece of advice is that you’re likely dealing with an infection.
If my hen laid a one of these weird chicken eggs, I would first treat the infection before opting to cull, plain and simple, unless the chicken seemed in obvious pain.
- Incomplete pigmentation
So third on our list of weird chicken eggs that you may come across are those with incomplete pigmentation, meaning one side of the egg is many shades lighter than the other side of the egg, or some areas of the egg might be much lighter than other areas.
This happens fairly frequently, and they’re not always an indication of an issue. On our farm, we usually get eggs with incomplete pigmentation due to something like heat stress. It’s happened less frequently in the winter, it seems to be a summer problem with our hens.
Poor nutrition or a viral infection are other potential causes, but as long as our hen is acting normal and eating normally, I usually chalk it up to “one of those things” and offer a cool treat like a frozen banana and extra water.
- Bumps on eggs
So, fourth on our list of weird chicken eggs you might come across are those with bumps on them. And usually, these are nothing to be worried about. They happen on our homestead all the time.
Bumps on your chicken eggs are deposits of extra calcium, and they can be big or small deposits. They can be white or other colors, depending on how dark the pigmentation is.
If you’re hen is getting a lot of calcium, she may lay eggs with bumps on them. Some other, less common, causes are defective shell glands or stress during the calcification process.
- Very Small Eggs
Fifth on our list of weird chicken eggs are very small eggs, also called fart eggs, rooster eggs, or fairy eggs. We’ve gotten a few of these over the years, and they’ve been about the size of quail eggs, so pretty small.
We also noted that these weird chicken eggs have were missing their yolks.
Fairy eggs might be a sign that something is wrong with your chicken, so when they lay fairy eggs, I keep an extra eye on them.
With pullets that have just started laying, they’re less of a cause for concern, because it’s just their reproductive system getting used to the egg-laying process.
With established layers, it can be a sign of poor nutrition or stress. In one memorable instance, we had a hen get attacked by a rooster and she didn’t lay for a while as she mended, but then one day she gave us a fairy egg.
Her reproductive cycle might have been disturbed by the stress, or her body might not have been able to produce a real egg because it was putting its energy into healing her body.
These weird chicken eggs can also occur when some sort of foreign mass (like a piece of tissue) triggers the hen’s reproductive system and causes the foreign mass to be encased in a shell.
- Double/Triple Yolked Eggs
Sixth on our list of weird chicken eggs are double and triple yolked eggs. There’s something about these eggs that are exciting, and it’s a little like a “buy one get one free” sale.
So, if you don’t know what these eggs are, they have more than one yolk, so a double yolk egg will have two yolks, and a triple yolk egg will have three, etc.
These are fairly common on our homestead, and we have one hen that lays them quite regularly. They happen when the hen releases two yolks into the oviduct, in the case of double yolk eggs.
When we get these weird chicken eggs, they’re usually quite a bit bigger than regular eggs, and while most of the time they’re laid without a problem, they can be a cause for concern if it’s too large for your hen to pass.
But that being said, a lot of hens lay these eggs perfectly fine, and they’re normally nothing to be concerned about. These weird chicken eggs are actually becoming so desirable that industrial farmers have bred hens that will only produce double yolk eggs in Europe.
Some people try incubating these eggs, and there are stories of twin chicks successfully hatching, but it’s rare, and I suggest just eating the egg.
- White banded eggs
White banded eggs are seventh on our list of weird chicken eggs you might come across, and they typically occur when two eggs are in the oviduct simultaneously, and they make contact with each other in the shell gland pouch.
White banded eggs happen when a hen is in the process of forming the shell of the first egg, but the normal calcification process is interrupted by the entrance of the second egg, so the first one gets an extra layer of calcium,
which causes the white band marking.
Causes for weird chicken eggs such as white banded eggs can be something simple, such as flock stress or something more serious such as an infection, so your best bet is to watch your flock for weird behavior and if you think your chicken might be sick, get a vet’s advice.
Like some of the other weird chicken eggs on this list, we’ve come across these more during very high temperatures during summer, for example temperatures over 100 degrees, so with our flock, that seems to a trigger for white banded eggs.
In this case, we began offering even more water and watching their protein intake.
- Egg inside an egg
So, eighth on our list of weird chicken eggs are eggs that are inside another egg. The fancy name for this is a counter-peristalsis contraction.
So, what are these eggs? They’re perfectly formed eggs that have somehow found themselves inside of another, larger, perfectly formed eggs, and they’re pretty special. It’s not common, but it does happen.
These weird chicken eggs occur when a hen releases a second egg into the oviduct before the first egg has completed the calcification and laying process. This poor timing causes the first egg to reverse in the oviduct, and it becomes part of the second egg, which also has its own albumen and yolk.
These eggs are usually just one of those things that happen, and aren’t necessarily an indication of illness or anything, but they are a cause for alarm because these eggs tend to be very big and your hen might become egg bound.
If it keeps happening, I would consider taking your hen to a vet to see if there’s anything going on that might be causing it, for example a reproductive or structural issue.
- Speckled Eggs
Now ninth on our list of weird chicken eggs are speckled eggs, and while these aren’t really weird eggs, to some people who have never seen them before, they can be alarming.
So, let’s talk about them. We have several chickens that lay speckled eggs, and they’re just one of those things that happens.
The speckles are actually extra calcium deposits, and they’re formed when the calcification process is disturbed, or extra calcium just gets placed on the shell.
In rare cases, it can happen if there’s a defective shell gland.
But here’s the thing about speckled eggs. There’s some evidence to suggest that they’re an evolutionary thing, and whether that’s why some chickens lay speckled eggs or not remains to be seen.
National Geographic studied eggs from many different types of birds, and those researchers found that speckled eggs might be a way to make shells stronger.
So, it’s entirely possible a speckled one laid by your hen might be an evolutionary trait designed to create stronger shells.
We’ve seen these more with our dark brown egg layers like our Blue Copper Marans more than our industrial breeds like our Production reds, who have been bred to only lay identical eggs.
- Odd shaped eggs
The last egg on our list of weird chicken eggs are odd shaped eggs, and unlike the other eggs on this list, we come across these on a fairly regular basis.
So, odd shaped chicken eggs are those that aren’t uniformly shaped all around, and they might be lumpy on one side, or very pointy.
In more than one case, we’ve gotten eggs that were fairly round. Some had weird splits in them, others were clearly a case where the egg had gotten cracked then received an extra layer of calcium.
So, why do odd shaped eggs happen? They can occur if there’s some sort of disturbance while the egg is being formed. Stress is another issue, such as stress from over crowding or heat.
Age can also make a difference, as can breed. My pet Cornish cross Cyndi would sometimes lay weirdly shaped eggs and in her case, because I know she was getting enough nutrients, I chalked it up to her size.
She probably weighed about 25 pounds, and I think at times her oviduct got moved around and possibly squished in areas that wouldn’t happen in a chicken of normal size.
Recently, a reader told me that her hen always lays odd shaped eggs. In this case, I would venture to say that since the hen lays consistently, it’s likely a structural issue internally like Cyndi might have had.
We’ve also gotten a greater proportion of weird eggs from our Blue Copper Maran hens, and by greater I mean we’ve gotten more from them than the other breeds.
In their case, I’ve noticed the Blue Cooper Maran hens are more susceptible to environmental changes than other breeds. So, when it’s very hot or perhaps the amount of protein they were eating wasn’t enough for them, we’ve gotten some bizarre eggs from them.
In rare cases, respiratory diseases odd shaped eggs, but if your chicken seems healthy and is able to access fresh air regularly, and isn’t displaying a runny nose or a cough or anything like that, then this is less likely to be the issue.
When it comes to odd shaped eggs, if it’s happening regularly, I would take a look at their environment as well as their diet to make sure nothing is off, if it keeps happening after that, I would consider taking your chicken to the vet if you’re very worried.
If you’re just getting the occasional odd shaped egg, and your hen seems healthy, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Chickens are live beings, and just like us, sometimes weird things just happen.
So, have you ever dealt with weird eggs?
I’d love to hear about it, so there’s something I want you to do. I would love it if you dropped me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know which weird eggs you’ve come across.
I also like to update my files of weird eggs regularly, so if you have a photo and would like to share it with other FrugalChicken readers, email it to me and I’ll try to include it in a future weird chicken eggs article.
Because sometimes readers freak out when they see a weird egg, I try to keep an archive so I can continue to talk about weird eggs and why they happen.
Now, if you have chickens that lay weird eggs, and you think their diet might be a problem, then you’ll be interested this gentle reminder that my course Feeding Your Hens Right is complete.
You can learn more at feedingyourhensright.com.
In this course, you’ll learn how to feed your chickens so they get an optimal diet, lead healthy happy lives, and lay the most nourishing eggs possible.
As we grow increasingly sophisticated in understanding where our food comes from and the repercussions of eating poor quality food, it’s important to understand how your hen’s diet effects the quality of her eggs.
If feeding your family the most nutritious food possible is important to you, then you’ll want to check out my course.
It’s 5 video workshops, that you can access at any time. There’s specific recipes for homemade feed that can be tailored to your particular needs, and you’ll learn how to raise a happy, healthy flock of chickens.
The URL for that course is FeedingYourHensRight.Com, all one word.
Thanks for listening to this episode of What The Cluck?! about weird chicken eggs, and I’ll see you next time!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.