If you have chickens, you may have noticed that some eggs are unlike others. Continue reading for a list of the most common chicken egg problems, if they are safe to eat, what to do about them, and more.
Blood on the Eggshell
The sight of an egg with blood on it can be shocking and alarming. There are a variety of reasons for this to happen. One common reason is when a young hen first starts laying eggs. During this process, young hens sometimes have blood vessels in their vent area that burst.
Other reasons can be wear and tear, older hens aging, prolapse, or mites. A much rarer cause is bullying.
Eggs with blood on the eggshell are safe to eat, but they should be washed off before cooking.
White Banded Eggs
This happens when two eggs are in a chicken's oviduct. This causes them to make contact with each other in the shell gland pouch.
When the hen forms the first egg's shell, the normal calcification process is interrupted. This causes the egg to get an extra layer of calcium, which appears as the white band around the egg. Causes of white-banded eggs can include something simple like flock stress or something as serious as infection.
These eggs are safe to eat.
Body Checked Eggs
These eggs look like they have grooves on the surface. These are referred to as "checks." They are usually at the end of the egg, especially the pointed end.
The percentage of body-checked eggs increases with the age of the flocks. These eggs look like this because a hen attempted to repair any damage while the egg was in the shell gland.
Reasons for body-checked eggs include aging hens, incorrect lighting, crowding, or disease.
Body checked eggs are safe to eat.
Younger chickens have immature shell glands, which can cause an odd shell shape. Most times, this is not anything to be concerned about.
In older chickens, odd-shaped eggs can result from stress. It could be a defective shell glad if it is a regular occurrence. Additional reasons include infectious bronchitis or egg drop syndrome.
Generally, misshaped or odd-shaped eggs are safe to eat.
Broken and Mended Eggs
Broken and mended eggs happen when the eggshell cracks during the calcification process and repairs itself before being laid. This results in the egg appearing like a covered crack in the shell.
Reasons for this type of egg include fright or stress during the time the hen is making the egg or the age of the hen.
These eggs can be safe to eat, but it is a good idea to crack them. If there is an odor or it does not look like a regular egg, it is best to throw it out and not eat it. If the egg does have cracks, you definitely should not eat the egg. Harmful bacteria can enter the egg through the cracks.
These eggs appear with white, irregular-shaped spots all over them. They are also raised and bumpy to the touch. There are a few reasons for this, including stress during the calcification process, too much calcium in a hen's diet, or defective/immature shell glands.
Eggs with calcium deposits are safe to eat.
Lack of Pigment/Uneven Pigmentation
There is a few factors that may affect this. These factors include diet, stress, region, illness/parasites, and age. Deficiencies in nutrients, like protein, minerals, etc., influence the color and formation of the shell.
Other nutrients like Zinc, Copper, and Manganese are also important in an eggshell's pigment.
Eggs with a lack of pigmentation can be safe to eat. The best way to know is by cracking the egg to see if it looks odd or has an odor. If there is no odor and it looks normal, then the egg is safe to eat.
These eggs are very normal. The speckles are extra calcium deposits, which form when the process of calcification is disturbed. Additionally, it could be a defective shell gland. Speckled eggs can also occur because of an excess of calcium.
Speckled eggs are safe to eat.
These eggs are a very strange sight. However, they are not what you might think. By their name, it sounds like they are just a mess of white and yolk in the nesting material. But actually, eggs without a shell are often intact. It may even look like a normal egg until you touch it!
Chickens need a lot of calcium to create solid chicken shells. Most incidences of eggs without shells are related to a lack of calcium in a chicken's diet.
There are a few reasons for these eggs. The first is young hens who are still adjusting and getting used to laying eggs. Another cause for shell-less eggs is disturbances at night while they are sleeping. This can upset their systems and cause the eggs they lay to have no shells.
If that is the cause, some of the other hens in the flock may have bands or checks on their eggs. The egg problems should go away when the disturbances cease.
Another possibility is the amount of salt in their diet. Too much of this can cause a thin eggshell or an egg without a shell at all.
Infectious Bronchitis can also cause eggs with thin shells or no shells at all. Other illnesses, such as egg drop syndrome, can cause the same thing.
Shell-less eggs should not be eaten.
Calcium Coated Eggs
These eggs appear white and powdery. Sometimes the egg can have a pinkish color.
A common reason for calcium-coated eggs is when an egg stays in the shell gland for too long.
Young hens that are experiencing stress in some way are susceptible to this when they are ready to lay because they will hold on to the egg. This type of egg is usually nothing to worry about, and they are safe to eat.
Slab-Sided or Flat-Sided Eggs
This happens when two eggs are in the shell gland pouch shortly after one another. This interrupts the normal calcification process. Therefore, the second egg is not as complete as the first. This can cause the egg to be flat on the side where the eggs contacted each other.
Causes for this include diseases like infectious bronchitis, stress, frights, disturbances, overcrowding, and a sudden increase in daylight hours (supplementing light during winter).
These eggs are safe to eat.
Corrugated shells happen when the egg membrane is thinner than it should be. This is often a result of double ovulation (2 yolks). The egg then has to stretch thinner to cover the extra egg contents, leaving a corrugated appearance on the eggshell.
Causes of corrugated shells include extra-large egg size (often double/multi yolk eggs), New Castle disease, nutrient deficiencies, defective shell glands, and more. It can be hereditary. These eggs are safe to eat.
Wrinkled eggs can range in severity from a single small wrinkle to a few large wrinkles. This is very common in older layers.
As hens age, the whites in their eggs naturally get thinner. Since it is more difficult for the shell to encase a watery substance, it can end up with bumps and ridges.
Causes of wrinkled eggs include stress, disturbance during the calcification process, diseases like infectious bronchitis, defective shell glands, heat stress, and poor nutrition. Wrinkled eggs can also be a precursor to a lash egg.
Wrinkled eggs are okay to eat.
Soft Shell Eggs
Soft shell eggs are laid with an incomplete shell. Sometimes, they only have a thin layer of calcium. Causes for these types of eggs are similar to shell-less eggs, including immature shell glands, nutritional deficiencies such as vitamins and calcium, certain diseases/parasites, exposure to high temperatures, extreme humidity levels, stress, or disturbances.
Soft shell eggs can be prevented by providing your chickens with oyster shells. However, you should not mix it in with the feed. That way, hens can choose as many as they need.
Soft-shell eggs should not be eaten.
Mottled Egg Shells
These eggs look as if there are translucent parts of the eggshell. Sometimes a glassy appearance. Mottled eggshells are sometimes thin and fragile. Causes include high humidity in the coop, some diseases, nutrient deficiencies, and overcrowding in the coop.
Eggs with mottled egg shells are okay to eat only if the egg is still intact.
Holes in Egg Shells
Pinholes or small holes in eggshells can result from how a chicken lays on the eggshell. Possible causes include age, nutrient deficiency, damage from toenails, or sharp objects in the nest boxes. Most commonly, pinholes are caused by a chicken's toenails. A less common cause is birds pecking at eggs.
Because bacteria can enter through the holes, these eggs should not be eaten.
Although this is a rare occurrence, it is not uncommon. This happens when reproductive tissue ends up in a chicken's oviduct. Yolk-less eggs can be laid by newly matured chickens, meaning their reproductive systems are not ready to take on the egg-forming and laying process.
Additionally, yolk-less eggs are much smaller in size than regular eggs, and they might have thinner shells. These eggs are safe to eat.
Common Yolk Quality Problems
Eggs with double or multiple yolks are very common in new layers. Double or multiple yolks happen when the eggs mature and release at the same time. There have been as many as 9 yolks in a single egg. Eggs with multiple or double yolks are safe to eat.
If blood spots are in your egg's yolk, it can be an alarming sight. Blood spots range in severity from small spots of blood to almost a spoonful mixed in with the contents of the egg.
This happens during the formation and maturing of the hen's ovary. Sometimes, when mature yolks are released, they may rupture a small blood vessel. The blood released from there is then encased with the rest of the egg's contents.
Causes of blood spots include vitamin deficiencies, continuous lighting in the coop, stress, and disturbances. Eggs with blood spots are safe to cook and eat.
If a yolk is mottled, it will have many pale spots or blotchiness. This can be caused by diet, calcium deficiency, and thin eggshells. This problem gets worse with long egg storage, especially in poor conditions.
If the egg looks and smells fine, then these eggs are safe to eat.
If your hen's yolks look pale, it might be due to a lack of yellow or red pigments in their diet. Eggs with pale yolks are safe to eat.
The way a chicken's yolk looks is usually directly correlated with a hen's diet. Additionally, yolk color does not correlate with nutritional value.
If the yolk is pink or iridescent, this can indicate bacterial growth. In that case, you will want to throw the egg out and not eat it.
Common Albumen Quality Problems
Thin Watery Albumens
These albumens are caused by some diseases, high temperature for egg storage, and poor coop ventilation/hygiene. Occasionally is is a reaction to vaccinations. This is also common in older layers. Watery egg whites are safe to eat.
Odd Colored Albumens
Green Egg White
This can be worrying because it is not common. Reasons include high riboflavin content (B2), high chlorophyll content, bacterial contamination, and improper storage. These eggs are not safe to eat.
Yellow Egg White
Reasons for this include high riboflavin content, improper egg storage, and older eggs that have been stored for a while. These eggs are not safe to eat.
Cloudy Egg White
This means that eggs are fresh, and carbon dioxide has not had enough time to disperse through the eggshells. Another reason includes freezing the eggs. This can be during storage or eggs that sat overnight in a below-freezing coop. Eggs with cloudy egg whites are safe to eat.
These spots usually look like bits of dirt and vary in color from dark brown to red. Additionally, they vary in size from a few millimeters to small dots.
Meat spots happen when little parts of the oviduct lining was shed during the egg formation process. Some might be broken-down blood spots. This commonly happens in older layers. Eggs with meat spots are safe to eat.
If you are unsure about the safety of eating an egg, it is best to follow this advice, "when in doubt, throw it out."
Do you have an experience with chicken eggs that you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments!