What Causes Hens to Lay Odd-Shaped Eggs? What Are the Risk? (2023)

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Have you ever seen an odd-shaped chicken egg before? You might have been shocked or laughed at how silly it looked. If you’re a chicken owner raising laying hens, you may be worried about your hen’s health or the quality of your eggs. Several things can cause a chicken to lay abnormally shaped eggs. More often than not, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

There are several types of misshaped eggs, and each can usually be corrected. This can include huge eggs, rough eggs, and more. In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of odd-shaped eggs and what you can do to correct the problem. It will help ease your mind once you understand the steps to help your chickens and know you need to worry about the situation. Take a breath, and let’s solve this together!

Thin Shells

Chickens typically lay eggs with solid, thick shells. However, sometimes chickens will lay eggs with thin shells. There are several possible causes of this. One is that the chicken is older and prone to declining quality. Another possibility is that the chicken is not getting enough vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for absorbing calcium, so that a deficiency can lead to thin eggshells. In some cases, chickens may also lay thin-shelled eggs if they are under stress or if their diet lacks certain nutrients. Here are some other reasons eggs are thin:

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  • Phosphorus deficiency: The use of calcium, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as the development of chicken bones, eggshells, and somatic cells, all, depend on phosphorus. Laying hens require more phosphorus because the egg yolk has a higher phosphorus content.
  • Early production: This is because the chicken’s body has not yet had time to build up enough calcium. The problem fixes itself as the young hen’s body matures.
  • Infectious bronchitis: This is a common respiratory disease in chickens that can lead to laying problems. Chickens with this disease often have decreased appetites and stop laying eggs altogether.

Rough Egg Shells

The most common cause of roughness on an eggshell is an imbalance in calcium or calcium to phosphorus. A hen can’t digest and absorb the calcium available to her without phosphorus. Allowing the hens to roam freely will help them find their sources of phosphorus since they consume insects with exoskeletons like beetles.

Rough patches that a hen or two occasionally leaves are usually nothing to be concerned about. If several birds exhibit the symptoms at once, keep an eye on the flock. The flock may be getting too much or not enough calcium, especially if it’s been an especially hot or humid day.

These circumstances may speed up a hen’s metabolism and lower the calcium supply for healthy shells. However, the disease Newcastle or infectious bronchitis may cause persistent spots or textured shells. If so, most of the flock would exhibit the symptoms, which would also be frequent. Consult a veterinarian immediately if any other signs of those diseases appear in your flock.

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Other Egg Shapes

While most chicken eggs are relatively uniform in size and shape, there is a lot of variation regarding odd-shaped eggs. Some of the other types of eggs you may come across are:

  • Ridiculously large or oblong: If it only happens occasionally, there is probably nothing to worry about, but anything that occurs more than three days in a row should be checked out. Stress and overcrowding in hens are common causes of misshapen eggs. These eggs can also be brought on by egg drop syndrome, infectious bronchitis, or Newcastle disease. If your hens are startled by a severe thunderstorm at night, for instance, you might see a few of these.
  • Egg inside an egg: This is incredibly rare, but it does happen. An egg will form inside of another egg. Before the egg that is currently developing is laid, a second mature yolk may occasionally release. The second yolk’s release can cause the developing egg to contract, which may cause it to turn around. The reversed egg fuses with the developing egg, and the two are encased in a second shell together. A second fully formed egg, shell, and all, as well as a typical yolk and albumen, are found inside the outer shell.
  • Lash eggs: They aren’t eggs; instead, they result from salpingitis, an oviduct infection, and inflammation. Since lash eggs still pass through the oviduct, they typically have an egg-like shape.
What Causes Hens to Lay Odd-Shaped Eggs? What Are the Risk? (2)

Can You Eat Odd-Shaped Eggs?

Deformed eggs are typically safe to eat, so there’s no need to discard them. The deformity to the shell is frequently only superficial. This implies that most mottled or uneven eggs are as nutrient-dense as “normal” eggs. Small eggs are often called fairy eggs and frequently lack a yolk. Typically, pullets who are just beginning their laying careers will lay these. Fairy eggs are okay to eat, even though they aren’t very substantial.

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Eggs occasionally have a wrinkled or uneven texture. The shell won’t correctly form around the egg white if it is too watery. As a result, the egg may appear wrinkled or bumpy. With older hybrid hens, this frequently occurs. Even though they have a strange appearance, eggs with wrinkles and textures are still edible. The presence of white or hard, crusty spots on an egg indicates an excess of calcium or vitamin D3.

Eating eggs with white spots or a crust on the shell is safe. The process of laying eggs can occasionally encounter problems. A yolk might spend a day stuck in the oviduct or the magnum. When this occurs, two eggs are produced from one. And if the egg has two yolks or two shells, you can tell this has happened. These kinds of eggs are frequently laid by young hens that are still perfecting their laying techniques.

Additionally, eggs with two shells or double yolks are safe to consume. Several things, including diet, can cause discoloration. Additionally, there are times when different colors appear due to the joining of two shells during production in the shell gland pouch. Discolored eggs are typically entirely safe to consume.

Which Eggs to Avoid Eating and When to Worry

A young chicken laying unusual eggs for the first few months is typical. Additionally, mature hens occasionally lay deformed eggs for a variety of reasons. And typically, there’s nothing to worry about unless it starts to happen frequently or causes problems. However, you should consult your veterinarian if an adult hen consistently lays an abnormal egg for three or more consecutive days, as this could be a sign of underlying health or environmental issues.

And it’s best to avoid eating or even feeding those eggs to an animal; throw them away. Eggs without a shell at all or with a soft shell should not be consumed. The egg’s shell is a barrier between it and bacteria. The egg is therefore exposed to a variety of nasty organisms you shouldn’t eat because it lacks a shell. Because lash eggs have an unusual appearance, your instincts would tell you not to eat them. It does have a scary and ugly appearance. Listen to your instincts. Never eat a foul-smelling egg that is rotten.

What Causes Hens to Lay Odd-Shaped Eggs? What Are the Risk? (3)

Diseases That Affect Chicken Eggs

The adenovirus-related illness called Egg Drop Syndrome (EDS ’76) affects laying hens and is characterized by a decline in egg production or failure to reach the peak of lay. The production of a large number of soft-shelled and shellless eggs, which can be consumed by hens or lost in manure, reduces the number of suitable eggs.

No treatment is available, so prevention is essential. Inactivated vaccines are available; they are typically given after the rearing phase. Breeding stock is typically immunized to avoid production losses and prevent vertical transmission. The acute viral respiratory disease known as infectious bronchitis in chickens is characterized by tracheal rales, coughing, and sneezing.

Additionally, it may impact the kidneys, and in flocks that lay eggs, it reduces egg production and degrades the eggs’ quality. This illness has no specific treatment. Antibiotic administration for three to five days may help ward off any bacterial infections that develop as a result.

What Are the Risks of Odd-Shaped Eggs?

When a chicken is egg-bound, she has trouble removing an egg from her body. The chicken cannot pass the egg as easily as it would usually because it is stuck in the last part of her reproductive tract. Some infections or deficiencies heavily affect the shape of eggs and can increase the risk of a hen becoming egg-bound.

Between brief walks, your chicken may sit still for extended periods. She will appear tired, her eyes may be closed, and she will generally appear unhappy and depressed. Other odd behaviors include the chicken appearing uneasy and distressed as it walks somewhat like a penguin. She may also spread her legs out while crouching low to the ground and begin pumping her tail in an attempt to lay the egg.

When this tactic works, she will occasionally pass the egg. Preventing odd-shaped eggs will help decrease the chances of the hen becoming egg-bound. It’s not common, but it does happen and can result in the hen’s death if the egg doesn’t pass in 24 to 48 hours. It’s considered an emergency, and they need to be seen by a vet.


Eggshells can be deformed for various reasons, ranging from genetic abnormalities to poor nutrition. However, in most cases, misshapen eggs result from underlying hen issues. If a hen is suffering from some health issue, it can also affect the shape of the egg. Fortunately, these underlying issues can be easily corrected in most cases with some basic management changes.

As a result, misshapen eggs are not something to worry about too much. Most people enjoy eating eggs. They are a versatile food used in various dishes and are an excellent protein source. However, ensuring that the eggs you eat are safe is essential. Eggs with soft shells or smell bad may be contaminated, and it is best to avoid them.

Likewise, lashing eggs are so repulsive that you won’t feel like you’re missing out when throwing this kind away. Keeping your hens health in mind is the best way to ensure the quality of eggs and the overall happiness of your chicken. Your hens will thank you for a long, happy life!

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What Causes Hens to Lay Odd-Shaped Eggs? What Are the Risk? (4)

What Causes Hens to Lay Odd-Shaped Eggs? What Are the Risk? (5)

About the Author

Marisa Wilson

(Video) Kebonnixs 12-Egg Incubator: How to set up & use + my full review + our new rare Hatching EGGS! ⭐️🐓🥚

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What causes eggs to be speckled?

As the egg moves through the hen early in the process, these dark splotches are formed. The egg spins as it moves through the oviduct, the organ responsible for processing the yolk and adding the shell. The egg may appear a little specked if it turns too slowly as it travels along the tube.

What causes weak egg shells?

Egg shells and insoluble granite grit are poor sources of calcium. Excess Phosphorous – A diet high in phosphorous produces a thinner shell. Carefully weigh the amount of mineral phosphorous if you’re making your own feed.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. , Available here: https://www.grit.com/animals/how-a-chicken-makes-an-egg-why-some-eggs-are-unusual/#:~:text=In%20senior%20layers%2C%20oddly%20shaped,as%20'body%20check'%20eggs.
  2. , Available here: https://store.alltech.com/blogs/poultry/20-common-egg-shell-quality-problems-and-causes
  3. , Available here: https://www.fresheggsdaily.blog/2016/02/why-does-my-egg-look-weird-eggshell.html
  4. , Available here: https://blog.omlet.us/2021/07/28/why-do-chicken-eggs-sometimes-look-weird/

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What causes chickens to lay odd shaped eggs? ›

Some causes of chickens laying weird eggs include: Hormonal imbalance. Reproductive “glitches” in the oviduct. A disruption to the egg-laying cycle – stress, fright or even another chicken using the nesting box at the same time can disrupt the laying cycle.

Why are chicken eggs different shapes? ›

Different hens lay different eggs. The hen's breed is the primary influence on the overall egg shape and color she will lay, but her diet also has an impact on the egg's appearance.

Why do eggs come out deformed? ›

A flat or slab-sided egg is caused by a second egg entering the shell gland before the first egg leaves. Since the second egg hasn't completely calcified, the side that contacts the first egg becomes flattened and deformed. This process might occur due to changes in the chicken house lighting, disease, or stress.

Why are my chickens laying oblong eggs? ›

The most common cause is that the hen's oviduct carries two yolks at once. When this happens, the white and shell simply form around the two yolks and make an oblong egg.

What causes chickens to lay speckled eggs? ›

These dark splotches are created early in the process as the egg is traveling through the hen. As the egg passes through the oviduct (the organ that processes the yolk and adds the shell), it spins. If the egg spins too slowly as it moves along the tube, it can end up looking a little speckled.

Is it normal for chickens to lay different colored eggs? ›

When a hen and rooster are mated, genes from both parents contribute to the eggshell color laid by their offspring. Some of the most popular crosses are called Easter Egger or Olive Egger chickens. Easter Eggers can lay a variety of egg colors, from blue to green and sometimes even pink.

What is egg drop syndrome in chickens? ›

Egg drop syndrome '76 (EDS '76) is an atadenovirus-induced disease characterized by the production of pale, thin-shelled, soft-shelled, or shell-less eggs by apparently healthy laying hens.

Can eggs be different shapes? ›

There are roughly 10,000 species of birds on Earth, and just about as many unique egg shapes and colors. Hummingbirds make tiny eggs that look like Tic Tacs; owls produce eggs that are almost as spherical as golf balls. Other species produce every shape in between.

What determines the shape of an egg? ›

“We showed that egg shapes vary smoothly across species, that it is determined by the membrane properties rather than the shell, and finally that there is a strong correlation linking birds that have eggs that are elliptical and asymmetric with a strong flight ability, the last a real surprise.”

How do I give my chickens more calcium? ›

Crushed oyster shells are the best option for providing supplemental calcium. They stay in the digestive track the longest, which optimizes calcium absorption. Crushed eggshells make a good supplement in addition to crushed oyster shells.

Is it OK to eat a deformed egg? ›

This egg is perfectly safe to eat. Your eggs may be weirdly shaped. You may have an outcropping on your eggshell. This is just a little extra deposit of calcium like you can see in this photo.

Can abnormal egg become normal? ›

Once an egg becomes abnormal, this can't be reversed and egg quality can't be improved.

Are brown eggs better than white eggs? ›

Eggs come in many colors, depending on the breed of chicken. However, there's no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. In the end, the only real difference is shell color and maybe price.

Why do some hens lay brown eggs and some white? ›

The eggshell colour depends on the breed of the hen. Generally speaking, white shell eggs come from hens with white feathers, while brown shell eggs are produced by hens with brown feathers. Nutritionally, both brown and white eggs are identical unless the feed has been enhanced for speciality eggs such as Omega-3.

Why is my raw egg yolk green? ›

If you see any of these colors, discard the egg immediately. Off-color egg white, green or iridescent – Spoilage due to Pseudomonas bacteria, a very common type of bacteria that healthy people often carry without knowing it.

What does egg drop syndrome look like? ›

Classically an infected flock will initially show a loss of shell pigmentation, followed by thin shelled, soft shelled, and shell-less eggs. There is an apparent drop in egg production, though overall production may be normal, but there will be fewer normal eggs.

Is egg drop syndrome contagious to humans? ›

Antibodies against the egg-drop syndrome 1976 have been detected in wild Canada geese (Bonner et al., 2003 and Bonner et al., 2004). The virus can also be transmitted via humans, needles and egg trays. The lateral spread of the disease can be slow.

Is egg drop syndrome contagious to other chickens? ›

The virus is transmitted through any of the conventional means of viral disease spread and is also transmitted on and in the egg (horizontal and vertical transmission). The main method of horizontal spread is through contaminated egg trays, however, droppings are also infective.

What does egg shape mean? ›

having an oval form, usually with one end larger than the other.

What is an eggs shape called? ›

ovoid Add to list Share. Something that's shaped like an egg is an ovoid.

What does a deformed egg look like? ›

Misshapen eggs are those whose shells differ obviously from the smooth, 'normal' shape. They include eggs with shells marred by flat sides or body checks (ribs or grooves), and eggs that are too large or too round.

What causes deformities in chickens? ›

Beak deformities occur somewhat commonly in chickens, and can be congenital or acquired. They can be caused by a number of different factors, including poor diet, genetics, trauma/injury, disease/parasites, tumor growth, and inappropriate incubation technique.

What does an infertile egg look like? ›

Did you know you can determine if an egg is fertile or not by looking at the germ spot? The germ spot is the white spot on the yolk. The non-fertile germ spot contains only the female's cells and looks like a solid white spot. In a fertile egg the germ spot contains both the female and male cells.

What do unfertilized eggs look like? ›

Non-fertilized eggs will have just a small, white spot or dot on the yolk which is called the germinal disc and through which the sperm enters the yolk. If you are planning on trying to hatch your own chicks, start checking the eggs you crack to eat for the tell-tale 'bullseye' on the yolk.


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