The Egg with No Shell

One of the joys of raising your own hens is the interesting eggs that you get.  Supermarket eggs tend to be very uniform…same color, same shape…same pale yellow yolk.  But if you raise hens you get many different colors and shapes…and all have that gorgeous almost orange yolk.  I have three hens and I get three distinct eggs.

IMG_3862Amber’s is the biggest, the shiniest and is more pointed on one end.  Beatrix lays the smallest eggs and they are blue.  Prudence’s eggs are darker than Amber’s and less shiny and more oval.  It is easy to tell the eggs apart and that is a good thing because then you know who is laying.  

Of course, because these are not factory hens, they are not always consistent.  Once in awhile  you get an egg that is a bit lumpy.  We have also had a giant egg (      and we have had a tiny egg (

Last night we got our first egg without a shell.  It was a bit of a shock.  I went up to the coop to put them to bed and Amber was in the nesting box.  Not the nesting box that they sleep in, but the “perfect nesting box” ( ..the one they lay in.  It was a bit late for her to be laying an egg.  I reached under her to get the egg and all I felt was wet straw!  It was almost dark so I got a flashlight and moved her off the egg.  And there was a lovely orange yolk, surrounded by the white.  It was as if someone had just cracked an egg into the nesting box.  Amber was a bit upset and unsettled so  I put her in the sleeping nesting box with the others. But she was just not herself.  She wasn’t chattering or getting into “her spot.”  She just sat where I put her..and  she seemed uncomfortable.  So I brought her into the house to get a better look at her.  Her comb was red, but she was listless and definitely uncomfortable.  I checked her vent…it was a bit oozy and possibly a bit prolapsed. 


I hope this isn’t too graphic…but in case someone is reading this because they have a hen in a similar state, I thought it might be useful.  I called my friend Carole, (who is my chicken mentor) and we talked about the situation.  While we were talking the vent corrected itself and Amber perked up a bit.  She managed to eat a grape and some yogurt and then set about exploring the house.  So I decided she was ok and brought her back to the coop to be with her sisters.

I hoped that would be the end of it.  But this morning, when I checked on them, she was still a bit off and all she wanted to do was sit in the nesting box.   She had just laid an egg so I knew she wasn’t going got lay again for awhile, so I shooed her out.   But she was determined and kept getting back in, so I wondered if she might still have something in there.  I had looked up eggs without shells on the internet (what did we do before internet?!)…there are various causes,from lack of calcium to illness to stress.  But most eggs without shells have a membrane at least.  They are soft but egg shaped.  Amber’s egg had no shell at all..not even a membrane.  Where was the membrane?  Was there one?  I decided to give her an epson salt bath to see if that would help.   Amber actually loves baths…she even loves the hairdryer to dry off…but that is another story.

In any case, during the bath I used a warm washcloth to press her vent a bit and noticed it was prolapsed again.  But just as I was starting to get worried I noticed something emerging…I tugged a bit and this came out.

IMG_3825The membrane.  It must have broken as she was laying the egg and got left behind.  It seemed to be complete with no missing pieces.  So hopefully there is nothing left inside her.  She perked up after this, though not as quickly as I thought she would.  I dried her off and returned her to the coop.  She did get back in the nesting box but only for a few minutes.  Then she had a normal day, scratching and pecking and enjoying a dust bath.  She is eating and drinking so I think she is fine.  She was eager as ever to have a few worms this afternoon.

IMG_3853 IMG_3854

IMG_3855And wanted more when they were gone.  So hopefully her adventure is over and tomorrow she will lay a “normal” egg!  

And we can all get back to gardening! 


About patti

I am a retired kindergarten teacher, tending a new kind of garden now, raising chickens and exploring permaculture. I live with my husband, Bill, my beloved dog, Fergus and my cat, Mighty Merlin. We have a small cottage and a tiny bit of land called Brookwood Shire. It is our sanctuary.
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10 Responses to The Egg with No Shell

  1. Polly went through a phase where she laid a shell-less egg most days. Weeks went by without a real egg from her (like you, I can spot who laid which egg) but often in the morning there was slime where she slept, clearly eggwhite. Most of the time no yolk but my guess is she or her cousins ate the yolk, which they love. They also gobble up the soft shell that sometimes comes with it so I’m not sure if she did have a soft shell each time or not. I suspect not but who knows, they sure chase each other when a soft shell is on offer so it wouldn’t last long.

    Polly is “old” – almost 4 – and still lays about 3 eggs a week. Her eggs are back to having shells though sometimes, like yesterday, they almost seem like double shells with sort of a lumpy finish. I don’t think it’s a lack of calcium, I think it’s plain old decrepitude. She’s in menopause and this is the way some hens show it. Sort of the feathered version of a hot flash. All my hens are about the same age so I expect more of these problems around the coop.

    How old is Amber? I hope those 2 days are the end of her problems but if I’ve learned one thing about hens, it’s whatever troubles one hen once, tends to revisit. They each have their own cross to bear. Shell-less eggs isn’t a bad one, assuming that nasty soft shell eventually comes out.

    Good luck!

    • pattigail says:

      Amber will be 3 in May…well they all will be. She has always been an inconsistent layer..and she takes a long time in the box and announces to the world after. Once she laid a tiny egg but this is her first shell-less egg..and I hope her last. But my girls are aging so there could be more adventures in the future. Time will tell. Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well at the farm.

      • Hmmm, yes, 3 is getting up there in chicken biology. But you’ve probably got them for a few years more – laying foibles and all.

        I know I don’t participate much and I don’t blog anymore but I do lurk around my fav blogs (yours being one of them). It’s nice to still be connected even if I’m not to active.

        My chickens are going well. A couple of weeks ago we separated Lenny, our amorous rooster, from the hens for good. Forever more there will be chicken wire between him and his ladies. He just won’t leave the smallest (poor Polly now that Molly passed away) alone and rides her until she’s bald, raw and sore. Nasty brute. He seems okay being so near yet so far from his girls and they all seem totally okay about it.

        The rest of the farm is good. Dog, cat and bees are happy. Our one big problem is my husband has cancer. He was diagnosed in September (when I stopped blogging) and it’s very aggressive, stage 4 and they aren’t giving him any real hope. He’s on his 2nd type of chemo now and it’s showing more progress which is great. And he’s now well enough to spend time in the garden and with the animals so that’s fantastic. We’re trying to live as normal of a life as we can but, obviously, this is sort of sucking a lot of the energy out of everything. Which is why you don’t see me around much. But I’m still here and I love keeping up with you, your animals and your farm.

      • pattigail says:

        Oh I am so sorry to hear your husband has cancer. I am sure that is sucking up lots of energy! I am glad there is some improvement and that he is getting out in the garden and able to spend time with all the animals…I am sure that in and of itself has some power to heal…or at least to feel better. I am glad to hear you are still “lurking” and enjoying Brookwood Shire. I don’t write as often, but the adventures do continue. Blessings and hugs..Patti

  2. wspines says:

    How is Amber doing? Anymore eggs?

    • pattigail says:

      Amber seems fine today. No eggs yet but she doesn’t lay everyday. Perhaps later today or tomorrow. Fingers crossed for one with a shell this time. 😊

  3. Joanne says:

    She is lucky to have such a good mom! I’m glad she is doing better.

  4. Well done in caring for her. I’m relieved to hear there is a happy ending to this story, well the story continues, but for now…
    Our chickens are a couple of years old and we get the odd egg now and then as well. It is good to read your experience; I will refer to it if a similar situation ever occurs. Lovely that she enjoys a bath. Xx

  5. Pingback: Farewell Sweet Amber | Life at Brookwood Shire

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