Common Chicken Egg Shell Quality Problems

White Banded Chicken Egg

These eggs are the result of two eggs entering and making contact with each other in the shell gland pouch.  When this happens, normal calcification (egg shell formation) is interrupted and the first egg that entered the pouch will get an extra layer of calcium, seen as the white band marking.

Chicken Egg

White Banded Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  • Stress in the flock
  • Changes in lighting, for example adding artificial light in the coop to encourage laying over winter
  • Diseases such as infectious bronchitis

Blood on Egg Shells

This can be anywhere from a few spots to a smear to an alarming amount of blood.

Blood on egg shell

Blood on Egg Shells

Common causes are:

  • Small blood vessels ruptured in the hen’s vagina from excessive straining. This is more common in young pullets coming into lay and overweight hens
  • Cannibalism, vent pecking
  • Sudden big increase in length of daylight (when supplementing light in winter months)
  • A mite/lice infestation around the vent

Body Checked Egg

These eggs’ shells got cracked during the calcification process and had a layer of calcium deposited over the crack before the egg was laid. Some body checks are covered by a thick layer of calcium, forming an noticeable ridge or band around the egg. Body checks will increase if the hens are exited or gets startled late in the afternoon/early evening, when the egg shell formation process begins.

Body checked egg

Body Checked Egg

Common causes are:

  • Stress and overcrowding
  • The hen’s age. There is a higher incidence in body checked eggs from older layers

Broken and Mended Egg

These are similar to body check eggs. The egg shell got cracked during the calcification process and mended just before being laid.

Broken and mended eggs

Broken and Mended Chicken Egg

 

Common causes are:

  • Stress, frights or disturbance during the calcification process

Odd Shaped Eggs 

These eggs differ from the normal shape and/or size and can be either too large, too small, round instead of oval or has major changes in the shape. Shapes can range from minor, barely noticeable to grossly odd shaped.

Odd shaped eggs

Odd Shaped Chicken Eggs

Common causes are:

  •  Immature shell gland (young layers)
  •  Defective shell glands
  •  Disease such as infectious bronchitis
  •  Stress, frights, or disturbances
  •  Overcrowding in coop and/or run

Calcium Deposits on Chicken Egg

These egg shells have white colored, irregularly shaped spots deposited onto the external surface of the shell. It can range from a few spots to a severe deposit.

Calcium deposits on eggs

Calcium Deposits on Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Defective shell glands
  •  Disturbances and/or stress during the calcification process
  •  Poor nutrition, for example excess calcium in the hen’s diet

Lack of Pigment or Uneven Pigmentation on Egg Shells

Lack of Pigment or Uneven Pigmentation on Egg Shells

Lack of Pigment or Uneven Pigmentation on Egg Shells

Common causes are:

  •  Poor nutrition. A deficiency in any of the main nutrients, protein, minerals etc in the hens’ diet can influence shell color and formation. Zinc, copper and manganese are thought to be especially important in transporting pigment onto the shell. It has been suggested that a magnesium supplement can improve shell color
  •  Viral infections. Infectious bronchitis and it’s variants, Newcastle disease, egg drop syndrome and avian influenza can cause damage to the oviduct, resulting in loss of shell color and other problems
  •  Internal and external parasites. A heavy infestation of roundworms and or capillaria worms as well as red mites, when present as a heavy infestation, can have an adverse effect on egg quality and may cause pale shells
  •  Drugs. The coccidiostat drug, Nicarbazin, if present in feed, can interfere with egg shell pigmentation
  •  The hen’s age. And older layer will often produce eggs with paler shells, as well as a hen who had been laying intensively over a long period
  •  Stress. Physical stresses, environmental stresses or nutritional stresses can all interfere with shell pigmentation
  •  Exposure to sunlight and high temperatures can produce a fading effect on the shell

Calcium Coated Chicken Egg

These eggs have an extra, powdery layer of calcium, covering either the entire egg, or just one end of the egg.

Calcium Coated Eggs

Calcium Coated Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Defective shell glands
  •  Disturbance or stress during calcification process
  •  Poor nutrition, for example excess calcium in the hen’s diet

Speckled Chicken Egg

Spots or speckles can be either brown or white. They are similar to calcium deposits, except the speckles are smaller. Speckles may or may not be pigmented.

Speckled Eggs

Speckled Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Stress or disturbance during calcification process
  •  Poor nutrition, for example excess calcium in the hen’s diet

Shell-less Chicken Egg

A shell less consists of a yolk, albumen and membrane, but has no shell at all. The egg contents are protected by the outer membrane only. These are often seen in pullets coming into lay.

Shell-less Eggs

Shell-less Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Immature shell gland (young layer)
  •  Nutritional deficiency, usually lack of calcium and vitamins E, B12 and D as well as phosphorous and selenium
  •  Certain diseases, such as Newcastle disease, infectious bronchitis, avian influenza, egg drop syndrome
  •  Exposure to very high temperatures and extremely high or low humidity levels
  •  An infestation of internal or external parasites, such as worms, mites or lice
  •  Stress prompting the hen to lay an egg prematurely, before the shell is formed
  • Egg laying while molting
  • Exposure to toxins, such as mold, fungi, bacteria

Slab Sided or Flat Sided Egg

When two eggs enter the shell gland pouch shortly after another, normal calcification is interrupted. The second egg will not be as complete as the first and may be flattened at the side where the eggs made contact, resulting in a flat or slab side.

Slab Sided or Flat Sided Eggs

Slab Sided or Flat Sided Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Disease, such as infectious bronchitis
  •  Stress, frights and disturbances
  •  Overcrowding in coop/run
  •  Sudden large increase in daily light hours, for example when supplementing light during winter months

Wrinkled Chicken Egg

These eggs’ shells have thinly creased/wrinkled surfaces. The wrinkles can range in severity from a single small wrinkle to quite a few large wrinkles, as shown in the egg pictured.

Wrinkled Eggs

Wrinkled Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Stress and disturbance during calcification process
  •  Disease such as infectious bronchitis
  •  Defective shell glands

Corrugated Shell 

This happens when the egg membrane is thinner than it should be, often as a result of double ovulation (two yolks) and having to stretch thinner to cover the extra egg contents. This results in insufficient plumping of the egg, leaving a corrugated membrane onto which the shell gets deposited, so the shell takes on a corrugated appearance as well.

Corrugated Shell

Corrugated Shell

Common causes are:

  •  Extra large egg size, often double or multi yolk eggs
  •  Newcastle disease
  •  Excessive use of antibiotics
  •  Copper deficiency in the hen’s diet
  •  Excess calcium consumption
  •  A defective shell gland
  •  It is often seen with hens recovering from infectious bronchitis
  •  It can be hereditary

Tiny Chicken Eggs 

Tiny eggs may or may not have a yolk. Yolk-less fart eggs are often called rooster eggs. These little eggs are often much darker than normal, as they spend more time in the shell gland pouch and gets an extra layer or two of pigment.

Tiny Eggs

Tiny Chicken Eggs

Common causes are:

  •  The hen’s oviduct releases a small piece of reproductive tissue or another small foreign mass enters the hen’s oviduct, triggering the regular formation of an egg. The foreign object will be treated like a normal yolk and enveloped in albumen, membranes and a shell
  •  Occasionally a hen will also lay a fart egg when something disturbs her reproductive cycle
  •  Young pullets may lay a fart egg or two when coming into lay and is still getting their reproductive systems in gear

Soft Shell Chicken Egg

These eggs are laid with an incomplete shell, sometimes just a thin layer of calcium.

Soft Shell Eggs

Soft Shell Chicken Egg

Common causes are:

  •  Immature shell gland
  •  Nutritional deficiencies, usually lack of calcium, vitamins E, B12 and D as well as phosphorous and selenium
  •  Disease such as infectious bronchitis, avian influenza, egg drop syndrome; an internal or external parasite infestation
  •  Exposure to very high temperatures and/or very high or low humidity levels
  •  Egg laid prematurely due to stress or a disturbance during the calcification process
  •  Egg laying while molting

Mottled Egg Shells

In mottled egg shells parts of the egg shell are translucent, taking on a mottled or glassy appearance. These shells can also be thin and fragile.

Mottled Egg Shells

Mottled Egg Shells

Common causes are:

  • High humidity in the coop (make sure the coop is well ventilated
  • Certain diseases, (such as infectious bursal disease) and mycotoxins
  • Manganese deficiency in the hen’s diet
  • Over-crowding in the coop
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