Tillysnest-egg-without-shell
Chickens Eggs Health Issues

Soft or Shelless Eggs in Backyard Chickens

Our flock is now almost four years old. This is the first year when their egg laying has completely ceased during their annual fall molt. Telling you that we miss their eggs is a huge understatement! We are down to our last dozen. However, a few days ago, as I lifted the nesting box lid, I discovered Feathers as she gracefully got up from the nesting box. As I peered down into the box, I discovered an egg. I was ecstatic. The eggs had returned.

Yet, this one was different. I scooped it up. It was warm but instead of feeling a shell, it felt rubbery. It was squishy. I could see the yolk inside this silly normal sized egg. We had fun with her egg, as it sat above the kitchen window for the last few days. It was a show and tell, a real- wow- kind of story that the kids were thrilled to share with their friends. As each day passed, the egg lost a little of its oomph, until yesterday when it looked like a pathetic deflated balloon. The rubbery coating on the outside had turned into more of a solid. It felt and looked like stale angel food cake, into the garbage it went. Since that egg was laid over three days ago, no other eggs have been gifted to our family from the flock. It’s amazing how we cherished Feather’s pathetic odd egg. I think in some weird way, it gave us a bit of hope, that soon enough the eggs will return.

Reasons for Missing Egg Shells in Backyard Chicken Eggs
Reversible Causes
  • Not enough calcium in the diet– Be sure that your flock is on layer feed, has a calcium supplement (crushed oyster shells or crushed eggshells), and also that you are not over-treating them.
  • Starting to Lay for the first time– These are not uncommon when the flock begins to lay their first eggs.
  • Returning to Laying– Whether after being broody or molting, sometimes as the reproductive system comes back “online” some eggs are laid without shells.
  • Stress- Stress can come in many form such as predators, extreme heat, extreme cold, lack of daylight, illness, changes in the flock dynamic.
Irreversible Causes
  • Advanced Age– Older hens have a greater likelihood to lay eggs with abnormalities.
  • Medical Conditions-Some hens’ bodies have issues with the absorption of calcium and others can have conditions of the reproductive system. In these cases, the malformed eggs might be a permanent occurrence. Check out issues with the egg shell gland and also egg drop syndrome.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

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  • Our neighbors have had this happen twice…while I've not seen it in our flock, it would be quite something (and a science experiment for the kids!)

  • SRS

    Thanks for the info, one of our girls does that fairly often. They free range all day so I never really worried too much about what they ate (free choice scratch and layer plus oyster shell) but I guess I should see about some better layer.

  • One of our Speckled Sussex (now 2 years old) has laid us one of these oddities every few weeks. She gets plenty of calcium. It is apparently just the way it is!! Got the first post-moult egg today. About time!!!!

  • Always so interesting!!