My chicken laid an egg that had no shell!

Part of the joy of owning backyard chickens is the horror. They do some pretty crazy shit these birds.   Attack cats, try to eat each others faces, I even have one that’s a hermaphrodite.

They’re really a most interesting pet even without the egg laying talent.   Speaking of eggs (see how I transitioned so smoothly there? It’s part of what makes me such a talented writer.  That and the way I can make up words but have you think they’re actual words.  Like pencil.)

When you have backyard chickens, or any chickens for that matter, you may happen upon a misshapen or odd looking egg.  The benefit to being a backyard chicken is your owners don’t generally chop your heads off for the offence. Usually.

I’ve had eggs with bumps, cracks and ridges come out of my hens.  And last week Cheez Whiz laid this one on me.


Egg With No Shell

That would be an egg with no shell. It has the membrane that surrounds the egg. But no shell. At all. Anywhere. This was day two for the egg so it’s lost some of the air inside it making it sort of floppy.  But just the day before the egg was smooth and tight just like a regular egg, but with no shell.


Egg With No Shell 2


The above egg is one of Cheez Whiz’s normal eggs.  The chickens are just finishing up one of their moulting periods and sometimes it takes them an egg or two to get back into the swing of things. I noticed her eating copious amounts of oyster shell after she laid this egg with no shell so she knew she screwed up.  Oyster shells gives hens the calcium they need to produce good, hard shells.

You can see just how translucent the egg’s membrane is.

Shelless Egg

To give you a better idea of what the egg was like, take a look at this handy video I made.

Since this offence, Cheez Whiz has gone back to laying normal eggs. Which is a little more appealing, but a little less pencil.

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  1. Leslie says:

    I love weird egg stories. :D

  2. Feral Turtle says:

    I felt like I was watching a ballet….so graceful!

  3. Robin says:

    Thanks for the video…now it’s all so real for me! We want property, and chickens come with that dream…so I now one more crazy thing that can happen with chickens in our lives.
    Odd creatures.

  4. Jay says:

    Today one of my hens laid a 118g egg.
    That’s four freaking ounces!!
    Every time I look at it I wince

  5. sharman says:

    Just wondering what you use in your run. Every time I search your site I get the same articles. Is sand alright? We got three chicks the end of April (because of you!) and I’m confused as to what to put in there. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sharman – I prefer to use straw in the outside run and pine shavings on the inside run. Although I think at the moment I have straw in there. Some people use sand but I find it unless you have crazy great drainage, it stays wet a long, long time. Also laying straw down lasts quite a long time (a month or so in the summer even with rain getting on it) and then you can compost it along with the poop. Breaks down in another month. So it’s a perfect full circle model. You can search my site for “hot compost” to show you how I do it. ~ karen!

  6. Lisa says:

    Egg-cellant choice of music!

  7. kipper says:

    I don’t know which is funnier..a shell less chicken egg or the fact that you named a hen CheezWhiz.

  8. Olga says:

    I have to say, to me personally, this is the grossest thing you posted yet! I own two backyard chickens and I’m so glad I have not had any eggs like that yet. lol I would definitely leave it in their coop until they figure out how to fix that egg and give us a normal one.

  9. Liz says:

    so I’m wondering how you managed to collect the egg without a huge mess on you!

    • Karen says:

      That’s how strong the membrane is! If she cold push it out of her vent and have it splat on the nesting box floor, picking it up wasn’t going to be a problem. :) ~ karen

  10. Gwen H. says:

    I have to say that I found that very interesting.

  11. judy says:

    I am tempted to get those beautiful chickens that have the black, white and maybe red? feathers, not so much for the eggs but because they are so pretty. But we live in Brandermill (1st PUD in U.S.) heavily wooded and we have raccoons,possoms and 2 large dogs-would the chickens survive all that?

    • Karen says:

      It’s hard to say. I’d never let them have free run of the entire place if you want to keep them safe. And they would definitely need to be locked up at night in a secure coop. During the day you could make a run enclosed with chicken wire to keep raccoons etc. out. You’d still have to keep an eye on them but they’d be relatively safe. ~ karen!

  12. Ella says:

    My little Vicky laid one of those before!!!!!

  13. Trish Cordiner says:

    Just got it…wow, so interesting!!!
    thanks, Karen

  14. Trish Cordiner says:

    Somehow, I didn’t get the video????

  15. Mary Werner says:

    I WAS eating my egg and baloney sandwich while reading. How pencil!

  16. Nadine says:

    When I saw this egg the first question that came to my mind was, if laying shell-less eggs is more comfortable for a chick or actually less. ;)

  17. susan w says:

    oh the violence to that squashy egg! with elegant soundtrack, needs to be in slow motion

  18. Toni says:

    I feed the suspect eggs to the dog. She thinks they’re great. The queasy ones among you had better stick to grocery store eggs, grocery store meat, and milk. Cringe! Some of those items sold in our grocery stores don’t even come from the U.S. I don’t know what Canada’s criteria is for labeling origin. Here in the U.S. it’s a crime to tell consumers what is in the package or where it came from. Makes me wonder what the lawmakers feed their families. It is good for the health care industry in the U.S. so I suppose it isn’t all bad. OH, and the fund raising organizations spending the big bucks looking for “The Cure”.

  19. Tigersmom says:

    I’m not a fan of eggs, unless they are cleverly hidden in a cake or something. It’s a multi-sensory issue for me…taste, smell and texture. I wish I wasn’t so turned off by them as they are such a great source of protein.

    This didn’t help that. At all.
    ; )

  20. Ruth says:

    Nice reminder of why I no longer use eggs. I can’t stand the sight of a raw egg, but feel free to bake me a cake with them. I have nothing against eggs in cake… I’m just not cracking them myself, because I would need to look at them to do that. :-D

  21. Patti says:

    My daughter just bought nine chicks in early April and is finishing the coop. I’ll forward this post to her just so she’ll have an idea that this can happen. I’m looking forward to some fresh eggs later this year.

    Thanks for such an informational post and fantastic blog. I look forward to reading about your adventures every day, well, every weekday.

  22. Susan says:

    Such a lovely orange yolk!

  23. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Very cool, your video was like art. I loved it.
    Thanks for posting something chicken. I’ve missed hearing about the girls.

  24. Jody B says:

    Oh Karen you make me miss my chickens so. They were little black and white beauties. Fellow I got them from called them hamburgs. Not sure of the real variety. I saw you at Christie but didn’t want to bother you. I excitedly told my husband and he said who? Blog? What? Didn’t get it at all. It was GREAT at Christie this year. Love love love that day.

  25. jeannie B says:

    Interesting and informative. Now I know something that I didn’t know yesterday. Love those dear chickens!

  26. Pam says:

    One of my chickens lays a shell-less egg at least once a week. No clue why, her other eggs are normal. Do I eat it? Nope, but I scramble it, membrane included and feed it back to the girls. And for those who are so grossed out … bet you eat soft-shelled crabs!!

    • Karen says:

      Hah. That’s exactly what I did. Scrambled and back to the girls. That’s what I do with all the suspect eggs actually. ~ karen!

  27. Kat says:

    Whoa! never knew about that. Love learning new stuff!

  28. Amanda Pedro says:

    umm, I think I’ll get some oyster shells for my ladies today. I am eating eggs that fell out of my chicken as I read your post. I almost didn’t eat the eggs, but I’m hungry.

  29. marilyn says:


  30. Jody says:

    Yup. That was different.

  31. Karen says:

    I just showed the video to my husband. I said, isn’t this cool? He said, “yeah, ummmm” and shook his head. Guess I won’t have to fix eggs this morning! Thanks for sharing this, Karen!

  32. Ryn says:

    Fascinating! I never knew a chicken could lay an egg without a shell. Love your blog by the way!

  33. Deb says:

    ‘Looks like Cheese Whiz decided to take your advice to “try something new” this weekend! Seriously, I have had the exact same alien object fall out of my Verna Pearl’s rear end (yes, VP is a hen!). I actually saw it happen, as this alien egg surprised her, apparently, and. Are it’s appearance late one afternoon as the flock was headed in to roost. Poor VP suddenly squatted in the run and out dropped this totally shell-less egg! Perfect in every way, except jiggly and squishy. Gotta love chickens!

  34. Ann says:

    I have had almost all the egg oddities that can possibly occur. Except the egg within an egg. Stress is a typical reason they lay a shell-less egg. One of my easter eggers constantly lays an egg with all the tiny little “dots” of calcium on the shell. Sometimes all the little dots are in one spot, sometimes spread all over the egg.

    People, get over your queasy. You do not even want to know things that happen in the commercial meat industry and yet many of you will be eating the burgers today.

    • Karen says:

      Oh yes, this same chicken lays calcium dots as well. And like you say, sometimes all in the same spot, lol. ~ karen

  35. Melody Madden says:

    Think I will skip my usual hard boiled this a.m. … Cool video though.

  36. sue says:

    It is a wonder that she was able to lay that without it breaking, just proves how tough the membrane is. Someone had a blog post about butchering their chickens and I never realized that the hens had eggs inside in different stages of development, like a little egg factory.
    Good little Cheez Whiz, eating her oyster shells to fix that problem. Thanks for sharing.

  37. TucsonPatty says:

    That was so very cool. I love that you showed us with your fingers how it was wiggly and soft while rocking back and forth. It didn’t gross me out – I’m surprised at all the weak stomachs. I’ve been eating freshly picked (I love calling them that) every morning, thanks to a co-worker with chickens. She has a rooster, and so sometimes I get fertilized eggs in my dozen.
    It is all life – we drink milk from the mother cow’s udder that was meant for baby cows, and no other animal does that. Some things we eat are strange, and I always thank the folks that first thought to cook an artichoke and when someone found out corn could pop. Three of my favorite things – eggs, popcorn and artichokes.
    Great video! Thank you.

  38. Janet says:

    Well color me queasy……

  39. Janelle says:

    Pretty sure I just became a vegan.

  40. Dagmar says:

    If you had shown you the third picture alone, I would have guessed that it was a salt lamp. How unusual that the inside of that egg was a perfectly developed egg. Now I wonder, would an egg like that be considered edible? And what would happen if you tried to hard boil it? Do you think the shell would harden or dissolve? Enquiring minds want to know. Speaking of enquiring minds, what exactly do you mean by pencil? You lost me, I wonder whether I will be the only one. Having said that, I will now gracefully transition into the topic of making up words (see I can do it too- even if you are better at it)On Friday, I confused some of you by calling my fella my non-husband. So let me clarify that it is not a Canadian thing, but rather a Dagmar thing. The non-husband, non-wife terms we use for each other came about because we: #1 own property together and live together, but live financially independent of each-other #2 we are monogamous and have been together for over 13 years but have no intention of ever getting married #3 we come from very sad broken homes, and continue to watch our friends and relatives be happy until they wed, and then fail once they receive the piece of paper #4 We feel that we are more than boyfriend and girlfriend, but we are not common-law. So we just made up what was right for us; and hey if the egg isn’t broken, you don’t always have to make scrambled eggs.

  41. Louise says:

    Ok, this is weird, but now I’m hungry for some soft-boiled eggs!

  42. Pati Gulat says:

    My mom had chickens for years and this wasn’t unusual….it wasn’t OFTEN but it wasn’t unusual….

  43. Louise says:

    When I was a kid, we had a bantam couple, along with some other chickens. I remember reaching under the bantam hen and having my hand come out all gooey from an egg she had laid without a shell. Yeeeech!

  44. Jamieson says:


  45. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    That is just..creepy…..

  46. Zoe says:

    Sitting here reading your posts at ungodly hours thanks to the recent arrival of a mini-me. I was a little unsure if I could stomach this post at scary hours of the night but desperation got the better of me and I know now something new for today !

  47. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    I may never eat eggs again…

  48. I think the question on everyone’s lips is: Did you eat the egg?

    • Louise says:

      Yup, that’s what I was wondering. But after seeing how she mutilated it in the video, I bet she didn’t. And without the shell, I’d wonder about how sanitary it was.

      • Karen says:

        Nope. Definitely did not eat the egg. The shell is what protects it from bacteria and without it …. nope. Not gonna eat it. I did however cook it and feed it back to my chickens! ~ karen

  49. Amber says:

    Which one is the hermaphrodite, and how can you tell?

  50. Amber says:

    I was telling a friend that I might want to raise a chicken or two… he had done this, and had a simple test for me. He asked “How do you feel about eating something that fell out of your pet?”
    I still don’t have chickens.

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