The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Strange eggs

strange eggsSometimes I find an egg with a small deformity on the shell but last month I found these two weirdly shaped eggs. What was going on?

The larger one is Carol’s (aged three) and the one with the twist was laid by Barbie (aged four).

I rushed back to the cottage and fired up the computer.

DEFRA has a good, informative article relating to eggs here. Irregularities in egg shells can indicate a host of horrifying diseases. However as Carol and Barbie look well and healthy the cause is clearly age.

If you don’t replace your hens every two years you will eventually start to get the occasional strange egg. They are perfectly OK to eat they just look odd and because you are used to collecting perfectly shaped eggs alarm bells will ring.

Since then Carol has generally laid perfect eggs but if she misses a day or two the eggs that she lays are ridged and unusually shaped. She is a laying breed with a good steady egg laying pattern. This combined with the fact that she is three years old all contribute to the likelihood of laying eggs with irregularly shaped shells.

Make sure that your flock have access to grit and oyster shells (a good source of calcium). Feed them a decent quality feed – layers pellets or mash. If your flock are elderly maidens they are more likely to produce unusually shaped eggs.

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  1. My Speckledy has just this last week either not laid or laid a soft uncomplete egg. On one or two days, she did lay a normal egg. She is young (6 months) and appears to be otherwise well. Her two companions, different breeds, are still laying every day. They live in our orchard and have no contact with other chickens, but of course, other birds are around. Naturally, the hot recent weather could be a factor, but how long should I leave it before I get worried???? Any tips are gratefully received.

  2. Hi, my current chickens haven’t laid any oddly shaped eggs, but one of them doesn’t always lay and then every few days I get a MASSIVE egg – literally three times the size of the others and often a double-yolker. It’s as though she saves it up. None of my previous chickens have ever done this, but it doesn’t seem to cause her any distress…

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Magic Cochin

    So pleased that Phoebe is now comfortable and laying happily! Mites can have a real influence on egg production. In hot weather they can devastate a flock. Must treat my hens in the morning, just in case!

    Hello Monica

    I enjoyed my trip to your blog too!

    Hi Pat

    These eggs threw me a bit when I found them. I love the one with the knot!

    Hello Casalba

    Replace generally means knock them on the head (possibly for the pot but they would have to be slow cooked) or give them away.

    You don’t have to replace them every two years. We don’t. But egg laying diminishes as the years roll by. Chickens can live for years (7-14 years). There will always be losses in a flock, bugs and accidents. Always upsetting.

    You need younger stock coming up from the bottom – age wise. Cloud (guinea fowl hen) lays an egg a day and so does Carol (now 3 years old). The other hens are 4 years old and egg laying is sporadic. The white bantams (Mrs Boss and Mrs Squeaky Clean) have only laid sporadically since they started laying. They are a breed that is kept for their broody tendency although Mrs Boss is the only one who has risen to the occasion.

    Hens are both simple and complex. In many ways just like us!

    Hello Amanda

    They were tasty. Hope that you can get chickens soon – you’d love them!

  4. magic cochin

    Hi – up-date on Phoebe:
    You were spot on Fiona – Phoebe was feeling itchy! A spray and powdering session has made her feel much better. Normal egg production has resumed!


  5. Amanda

    I thought one was a balloon and the other a material egg. Bet they were still tasty.

  6. casalba

    I had no idea you had to replace the chickens every two years! That’s such a short time. What is their usual life-span? And, how do you ‘replace’ them?

  7. magic cochin

    Oh dear – it’s actually Phoebe who’s laying the slightly soft eggs! Ruby’s just laid a perfect one and I’d already found another thin shelled egg under the perches. Not like Phoebe at all – but she still has a touch of bumblefoot (much better than it was but never totally cleared up). She’s been sitting down having a little nap in the daytime too. Time for some hen TLC – and maybe even some antibiotics from the vet.


  8. Fiona, at first looking at the photo I thought you posted pics of balloons. I always find your posts like these informative. Thanks!

  9. Monica

    Very interesting gardening-website! I enjoyed reading about your garden and your berris and vegetables. It gave me a lot of inspiration!

    /Monica from Sweden

  10. magic cochin

    A very timely post Fiona – I’ve just tidied the hen house and found Ruby’s egg under the perches in the poo!!! It had an extremely thin shell and one side was soft-shelled. It had broken open.

    Ruby’s eggs have never ever been consistent in size shape or colour! One of her first eggs was a normal egg and smaller one joined together by a barleysugar twist of shell!!!!

    I’ve just topped up the pot of grit and oyster shell. Maybe she needs a special suppliment too – in the past when Sylvie laid a couple of soft shelled eggs I gave her mashed hardboiled egg (shell and all) in live yogurt with poultry spice. She took a couple of days off then laid perfect eggs!

    BTW my Mum calls soft-shelled eggs ‘Lash Eggs’ – and some of her neighbours use this term too. Is it just a fenland thing? Or do others use the term?


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