The Lash Egg.
Or, what the hell just came out of my chicken?

There is no end to the gross oddities that you’re exposed to when you have chickens. Chicken keeping is not for the faint of heart. Or fainters in general. Partly because of the lash egg.

Now I’m not a farmer. I’m a regular gal in a regular house with nice shoes, an affinity for gold plated flatware and expensive haircuts. I also have chickens. So my shoes get chicken crap on them and I once left the grocery store realizing I had a piece of straw sticking out of my expensive haircut. That straw had chicken poop on it.

So even though the chicken poop part of me could handle what I found in the nesting box the other day, the nice shoes part of me was aghast and disgusted.

When you have chickens, most days things go without incident. It’s just you and your gorgeous chickens as they romp in the straw, scratch in the dirt and dance in the sunshine (everything seen through a filtered lens in slow motion). No, seriously, they dance in the sunshine. For real. Then one day you go to the chicken coop and you find something new. Something unusual. Something horrifyingly gross.

Such was the case last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday I went to check the nesting boxes, (where the chickens lay their eggs) like I normally do.

nesting-box

 

And I found an egg like I normally do.

 

lash-egg-in-nesting-box

 

 

Only it wasn’t an egg, it was a horrifying rubbery blob.

I knew right away I had a problem. One of my chickens clearly needed an exorcism.  Barf.

Double barf.

 

 

The chicken owner part of me removed the offending rubber blob from the nesting box, but the gold flatware part of me refused to touch it.

 

This, dear readers, is a regular egg sitting beside a lash egg.

 

lash-egg-and-real-egg

 

A lash egg isn’t an egg at all, only it is.

I asked poultry vet Dr. Mike Petrik, The Chicken Vet, what the hell this is and what causes it.

This was our email exchange:

 

Dear Mike,

 

What the hell is this and do my chickens need an exorcism.  I have some sage around here somewhere and I think I can find a priest.

 

Karen Bertelsen

 

Dear Karen,

 

This is the result of an egg partly forming, then getting “hung up” in the oviduct.  If you squint, you can imagine that the bigger piece is the yolk and the funny shaped part is a collapsed membrane that is folded around some amorphous material.  The membrane is the part where the shell would have formed and the amphorous stuff is the protein from the egg white, once the water is removed.  

This often happens with sick chickens, since the first response to illness is to conserve resources.  The egg stops whereever it is in the process.  If you cut it open you can see the yolk is cooked.  The result of a fever.

It is quite possible that this is from Cuddles and is a sign that she is fully recovered and ready to come back into production.

 

Mike Petrik

 

Okey doke.  So let’s cut it open!

longpin

 

opening-lash-egg

 

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I’m losing count here but I think we’re up to triple barf.

 

 

opening-lash-egg-2

 

The inside of the disgusting lash egg.

 

dissected-lash-egg

 

And just as Mike predicted, some of it is cooked on the inside.

 

 

parts-of-lash-egg

 

Now let’s cut each half in half again.

 

lash-egg-gross

 

Now you can really see the eggshell membrane in there.

 

 

 

egg-shell-in-lash-egg

 

So this was definitely an egg that was just about finished forming when something went awry.

The morning after this happened, Cuddles was back in the nesting box but she didn’t lay anything. In fact she hasn’t laid anything since. But she seems to be happy and healthy.

Other than that whole head spinning around incident yesterday.

Meh.  I’m sure it was nothing.

The Lash egg. One of the many weird eggs you may find in your nesting box if you have chickens. Here\'s what it is and what\'s inside it!

138 Comments

  1. Christine says:

    you had me at exorcist!!!
    Love it! Ima tink you n me? we gonna be friens!

  2. Carmen DiCinque says:

    BLESS YOU! This totally explains the incredible matter that I helped my chicken pass today, thanks to lots of coconut oil and patience. Poor Batman (yes, a hen) has some terrible hemorrhoids but hopefully will make it.

  3. Katherine Ancheta Carino says:

    Hi Karen,
    I forgot to let you know that shortly after your reply my chicken DID lay again. Her eggs seem perfectly fine. She isn’t as plump as she used to be but it’s like nothing ever happened. Yay!

  4. Katherine Ancheta Carino says:

    Thank God for your post!!! I am much like you, I love my shoes, I get fancy hairdos and may just get some gold flatware to go with the Chinaware. We just came home from dinner, I went out to retrieve the eggs where I found my Plymouth Rock in the nesting box. I moved her and found one of these. Oh my gosh! I thought I was going to lose my dinner! Thankfully, with your detailed (and entertaining) writing and pictures, I’m not as worried anymore. I scooped that thing up right away and buried it. She’s molting but acting normal. Hopefully she’ll be okay.

    • Karen says:

      Good luck Katherine! Hopefully it was just an anomaly. Just keep your eye on her to make sure she’s laying regularly from now here on in. ~ karen!

      • Katherine Ancheta Carino says:

        Karen, did this chicken lay again? I read a few different articles regarding this with the outcome not being so bright.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Katherine. She did not lay again after this I’m afraid. I ended up having to have her put to sleep but it wasn’t for another 2 years. πŸ™‚ ~ karen!

  5. Molly says:

    This has been so helpful! My duck just laid something even worse than this, there was blood on it too. She is recovering from a raccoon attack where she suffered a fractured leg and a puncture wound. She has been healing well and after 2 1/2 weeks is beginning to use her broken leg. And then this happened. She is a year old and stopped laying last fall and never started up again, but never seemed to have a stuck egg, I checked. She has been on an anti-inflammatory for the leg. Hmmm, not sure what this all means, but it sure is interesting. The last few days she has made great gains in her mobility and food consumption. I’m feeling better about her situation after reading and viewing your post. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      That’s great Molly, thanks for letting me know. I’m not as well versed in ducks but I’m glad my chickens could help. ~ karen!

  6. Gayle M says:

    This just showed up on Pinterest when I signed in. Being the day after the Presidential election, I was certain it was a sign of the end coming. lol Gross but somehow interesting. While I don’t have chickens, I sure learn a lot about them from you. Thanks for your wit and fortitude!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Gayle, lol. I’m not sure who voted for Trump because all of the comments I’m seeing as a Canadian are anti-ANTI-Trump. I’m assuming there are secret Trump supporters who are just laying low. Good luck with your country’s lash egg. πŸ˜‰ ~ karen!

  7. Mary says:

    Karen,
    I haven’t found a lash egg but today one of my girls has a nasty mess on her backside. My husband just said we need to give her a bath. Any ideas? Did yours have a nasty mess on her backside?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary. I’ve had messy, poopy bums before that’s for sure. I deal with them in 1 of 2 ways. I either bring the chicken into the house and soak her in the bathtub until the poop loosens up enough that I can pull it away (wearing disposable rubber gloves!). The odd time if the poop is dry enough I can just crumble it off while wearing those every so helpful disposable gloves again, lol. A constantly poopy bum is sometimes a sign that something’s wrong and your chicken isn’t feeling well so just keep an eye on her. If she gets poop on her bum just as a fluke, it can also just keep building up because it just keeps gathering on the original blob of poop. Once you clean it off you might find she’s fine. ~ karen!

  8. Donna says:

    Oh thank you Karen! Yes it does ease my mind some. I am so glad Cuddles is still doing well. I think/hope my girl is strong. πŸ™‚ At least I can have hope. πŸ™‚ Thanks for replying.

  9. DH says:

    Glad to hear that Cuddles is still among the living. I also read the Chicken Chick article. While I haven’t had to deal with any lash eggs, it is good to know that there is a reasonable chance of survival for the hen. I don’t really care if they never lay again. πŸ™‚

  10. Donna says:

    Chicken chick said it was fatal ??? I’m hoping Cuddles is fine!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I’ve seen that article Donna. Cuddles seems perfectly healthy. πŸ™‚ She has never laid another egg though. With chickens unless they’re VERY sick it’s hard to tell. They’re absolute experts at hiding symptoms that they aren’t feeling well because they don’t want to appear vulnerable to the other chickens. I’m sure her information is accurate, but just to double check I’ve sent an email to my chicken vet to see if he feels that a lash egg is a death sentence. I’ll let you know when I hear anything back from him. ~ karen!

  11. Donna says:

    One of my girls laid the same thing today and I was just getting nervous from the article I red on chicken chick! I’m wondering how Cuddles is doing after all these months?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Donna. I heard from my chicken vet. His opinion is slightly different than the article we both read. He feels a hen laying a lash egg isn’t a death sentence and that many if not most chickens who lay a lash egg will live. If they are strong enough to fight off the initial infection chances are they’ll ultimately be fine. Much like in humans, it’s a matter of how strong the hen is and how strong the bug is. A strong, healthy hen has a fairly good chance of beating the bug. Of course, these are two different opinions from two very intelligent vets. I hope it puts your mind at ease a bit though. ~ karen!

  12. rj Vbrg says:

    If you have an inkling to knit or re-purpose a sweatshirt, Cuddles cuddlier

    Hey. I know its cold up there…. πŸ˜‰

  13. rj Vbrg says:

    Not totally related to the egg event, and possibly a reversal of your gag reflex, I offer…. the chicken sweater:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=928347807184926&set=pcb.928348260518214&type=1

    we have freezing rain down her (chickens are not mine but sister in law has some for her granddaughter to play with) and I know it is cold where you are… if you are apt to knit, Cuddles could be cuddlier!

  14. Kathy Olding says:

    I had a hen lay a Lash egg last night. I was keeping her in the house because I didn’t know what was wrong with her. I didn’t know if she was egg bound or injured by the rooster. She was alert and active and eating and drinking normally too. She is still in the house until she is better. Anyhow, she finally layed a Lash egg and I had never heard of it before until I posted it on a Chicken FB Group I am on. Someone said it looked like a Lash Egg. Mine did have egg yolk inside though.. it was gross too. I took pictures if anyone wants to see mine. πŸ™‚ they will have to email me at chesapeakes4us@gmail.com if they want me to show them πŸ™‚ She (hen) seems fine otherwise. Amazing how I learn things at my age

    • Karen says:

      Aren’t they strange things Kathy? (both lash eggs and hens, lol). I hope she continues to improve. My lash egg did have yolk, it was just hard to find and it was cooked from the fever she had! I’d actually love to see pictures of yours! (when did I become this person?!) karen@theartofdoingstuff.com ~ karen!

  15. Tya B says:

    Thanks for the information!

  16. Jean says:

    Triple barf is right. I’ve had two dogs and rabbit, and nothing like that has come out of any of them. Although the rabbit eats her poop. But that’s healthy for a rabbit. Okay, the rabbit is a double barf. But your chicken wins.

  17. Amy says:

    Once, while gathering chicken eggs on the farm where I was living at the time, I stuck my hand in a high nesting box that I could not actually see into…and I drew back instantly horrified at feeling a soft jiggly blob that I felt certain was going to somehow come alive and devour my hand. Turns out, it was only an egg from a chicken who apparently did not get enough calcium and the shell of the egg never properly formed, leading her to lay a blob that looked perfectly like an egg but was soft and jello-y. Yikes…

    Always make sure you can see what you are sticking your hand in…

  18. Jess says:

    Bit of both Karen, I’m hoping:-D

  19. Jess says:

    Well….WOW!! The thing is…the”egg” on the spatula kinda’looks like a tiny mumified guinea pig. Then after you’ve sliced it in two, like a diy-not-too-good-lookin’-but-totally-edible-eggroll. Or maybe I’m just hungry… πŸ˜‰

    • Karen says:

      O.K., if that thing brings out any inclinations of eating or hunger in you, you must be STARVING. Or a bit touched in the head. πŸ™‚ ! karen!

  20. Craig says:

    It’s a Chicken Nugget , sell it to KFC or McDonalds!

  21. Vanessa says:

    saw this on the Kitchn and thought it was amazing (I figured why would a chicken need a rooster, but I like this explanation, not to mention that it makes why you got a funny egg make sense).
    http://www.myswitcheroo.com/products/chicken-reproductive-poster

    kitchen artwork perhaps? or something in a weatherproofed frame for your coup?

  22. TorontoBoy says:

    I’m guessing this is an early halloween post? with the dexterity that Dexter Morgan would use, cutting up that lash egg I couldn’t help but guess that you were grinning to yourself knowing that some of your readers would squirem reading this post! Hahaha!

  23. I think I will skip my egg this morning!

  24. Miriam says:

    I have just become a vegan.

  25. Katbert says:

    This is probably a great post but after the first couple of pictures I could not look and could not read. I thought rats were my worst nemesis but perhaps not. Karen, I am still a devoted fan/follower. JUST STOP GROSSING ME OUT!

  26. Angela says:

    Holy cats Karen! Ive never thought of myself as squimish, but that did it! I can’t even write my thoughts cause it will make me nauseous again!

    super happy cuddles is on the mend!!

  27. Mindy says:

    Um, barf is right. It looks like a fucking breakfast burrito made by a disgruntled employee.

  28. Shauna says:

    Holy Begeezus, please stop cutting that thing and taking more pictures! BLECH! BLECH! BLECH! That was NOT the chicken farmer side of me.

  29. Ellen says:

    That is soooooo gross!!

  30. J9 says:

    Ew and whoa at the same time

  31. Deirdre says:

    I’m going to have chickens one day! I know I’m going to have chickens one day, my partner knows I’m going to have chickens one day. And seeing this really prepares me for the situations that could happen when one has chickens. Thank you. Bonus point: my 14 year old says she is never eating at McDonalds again, lol. πŸ™‚

  32. Janelle says:

    Wow, that’s turned me off of eggs, breakfast sandwiches and dim sum, in one fell swop. Glad your girl is showing (revolting) signs of recovery. Imagine if humans had something like that fall out of their butt every time they got over a virus?

  33. Faith says:

    Thanks Karen so much. After owning chickens for years now, we’ve never had a lash egg, but thanks to you, I know what to look for. I really appreciate that you’re not so squeamish as to take photos and help the rest of us learn new things!

    Also, glad cuddles is better.

  34. Tara says:

    Ugggghhhh. I was doing okay until the pictures of it cut open. Vomit. Glad it might mean good news for Cuddles, though!

  35. Jake says:

    For the first time I can remember I did not read to the end of the post. This just freaked me out, and I’m not particularly squeamish. Thanks for this Karen, my day is ruined, my lunch is ruined and so is my supper. Yuck.

  36. Laura Bee says:

    Facinating! We had chickens when I was a kid. If I’d ever found one of these – I’d have cut it open too!

  37. Mel says:

    First, thank you for the warningat the top of the page, I read this after lunch, and I’m happy I did.
    Second, I am overjoyed that it means that Cuddles is better.

  38. Stacey says:

    I’m nervous laughing… loudly… alone, because I am so grossed out. And, I am not one to gross-out easily. Those pictures are amazing. Veganism here I come!!!

    I’m so happy Cuddles has expelled that alien! I’m even happier that she seems to be feeling better and back to her adorable self. πŸ™‚ YAY!

    Thank you for your awesome posts, Karen! You made my day!!

  39. Meg says:

    This is an excellent post. I can totally see the yolk/white/stuff at the end – I was even hoping you’d bisect it! FOR SCIENCE! Excellent. I’m glad you’re not faint of heart.

  40. Liz says:

    there was much whiskey giggling over here!…followed abruptly by some gagging. real dry heevy gagging. that was disgust. but I’m really glad I got to see it, and really glad that you had a putty knife for transport and dissection. #ew

  41. JeannieB says:

    I’m still going to have scrambled eggs for lunch today, despite looking at the ” lash egg”.
    I found this extremely interesting even though I’ll never own chickens.
    I can see how this, being inside Cuddles, could have caused her life threatening illness. Thank goodness it finally passed.
    I wonder how many hens perish from this malady. It must be similar to ” egg binding which can be deadly in budgies and caged birds.

  42. Debbie says:

    Happy for Cuddles! I must be nuts and or I am so desensitized to gross that this is a 1 on my gross list of a scale of 10. I have witnessed, smelled and stepped in sick stuff where I work. (No, not in a zoo or hospital). I’m just glad she is on the mend. Plus, now I know I am more weird than I thought. : )

  43. leslie says:

    I’m just gonna say- the chicken-poop/farm girl in you faaaaarrrr outweighs the nice shoe wearing/expensive haircut buying/gold-plated flatware using part of you. This is proof positive!!

  44. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I’m sure Cuddles feels much better with that thing out of her..Did you toss it out or keep it in a jar?..You kept it in a jar didn’t you..

  45. Leigh says:

    Wonderful photos! I don’t think a lash egg has ever looked so… well lit. LOL!

  46. Leslie says:

    I’m sharing this post with my little chicken facebook group. I’m so glad Cuddles is feeling better. I hope she gives you a proper egg again before winter.

  47. Rebecca says:

    That was horrifying. I was doing okay and found this post rather interesting until you cut it open (still interesting but not okay)! My jaw dropped in disgust and my stomach sunk. In a positive light, I’m glad to hear Cuddles is doing better.

  48. judy says:

    Ack!Ack! Blah- We rarely eat eggs=mainly buy them for inclusion in recipes but having a senior brain failure in Costco I had purchased a 2 pack and found that I had some very expensive brown eggs still in the Fridge-laid by Hens allowed free rein of their environment and I believe fed only Ambrosial worms or flowers or something That adds mightily to the wonder of their eggs and the end price tag. Any Hoo finding myself with a plethora of Eggs I whipped up a smoked Ham/Eggs over easy + toast dinner just last night. Why does the cosmos plot against me in this sinister way? I told myself NOT to look @ the pictures and now I will never eat another egg again or until I’m desperate for a fast easy meal. I will still follow your Blog and that proves my loyalty or your Brilliance as a Blogger.

  49. Danielle says:

    I read this post with a combination of fascination and a dry heave. Glad to hear Cuddles is ok.

    • Karol says:

      my sentiments exactly. And why, oh why, do I always read this blog while I am eating! I didn’t make it through all the pictures. Or my breakfast. Still love ya.

  50. jainegayer says:

    I think I’m gonna lose my breakfast. Yuck.

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