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.
Amber’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 (https://brookwoodshire.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/the-giant-egg/) and we have had a tiny egg (https://brookwoodshire.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/ambers-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” (https://brookwoodshire.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/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.
The 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.
And we can all get back to gardening!