Shell-less Egg and Lethargy


8 Years
Sep 6, 2011
Two days ago my Ameraucana hen ("Missy") laid an egg without a shell, after sitting in the nesting box for a very long time. I don't know if the egg had a membrane around it when laid because when I saw it it was squashed around Missy's vent and in the nesting box. She seemed to behave normally for the rest of the day, but went to her roost early. Yesterday she didn't come down from her roost for several hours, sat on the ground in the run for a short time, then spent most of the rest of the day in a nesting box. I offered her water and some bread, but she wasn't interested. As far as I know, she stayed in the nesting box all night. This morning she came down into the run but looks droopy. She is standing, but puffed up somewhat with her tail feathers down, closing her eyes from time to time. She took a piece of bread from my hand but I don't think she ate it. I've seen her standing near the waterer but haven't seen her drink. The other two chickens seem unaffected. I've only had the chickens for about a month, and am at a loss about what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks to the poster below for the suggestions. Missy has been laying for a little more than a year. On average, she produces an egg two days out of every three, and was laying normally prior to this problem. She free-ranges for most of the day, but also eats pellets. Part of the backyard where the hens free-range has very acidic soil, which might interfere with the availability of calcium in the greenery that Missy eats in that area, but her problem seems to be bigger than the one egg that she laid without a shell.
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How old is Missy? Is she a relatively new layer? Has she been laying normally before this?

You should do a search for "egg bound" on the forums... there is lots of advice. Hopefully, she is just having trouble passing soft-shelled eggs. I have personally fixed this by giving Tums and a warm bath to the chicken. (Bath time wasn't fun for either of us, but my girl sure enjoyed her blow-dry afterward!) Hopefully, it is not a more serious problem. Since you didn't see a shell, I would check carefully to make sure that it didn't break inside of her.

Good luck! Let me know how you do!
Hi Ppabarr - instead of editing your original post I would suggest using the "post reply" tab. That way BYC will notify people that are subscribed to your topic (like me) that there is new information. It also makes it easier to follow your updates if the thread gets lengthy.

Usually with egg-binding a soft shelled egg is the first sign of trouble. Hens get very uncomfortable, go off their feed, act lethargic, hold their tails down, etc. Also, the vent tends to pulsate and one can sometimes feel the "stuck" egg.

A couple more questions... does she have access to oyster shell for calcium? Have you checked her bottom? Let us know if it is big and squishy, has any lumps (stuck egg), or seems normal.
Any news on Missy?

My 2-1/2 year old EE, Zsa Zsa, died last night. It was similar to your Missy. She laid 2 every 3 days, without ever molting or being broody. Then a couple days ago she laid a shell-less egg. After that she became lethargic, refusing food, poop was very liquid. I brought her inside and bathed her abdomen in a warm tub of water. I checked her vent but I couldn't feel an egg or shell in there. I gave her water and electrolytes with a dropper. She drank a little water on her own, but kept shutting her eyes. Late last night she went into a coma-like state, with an extremely high temperature on her abdomen. It was almost too hot to touch. Her entire body was flacid and heavy like a potato sack. She looked dead, but with that temp and with her eyes slowly opening and shutting, I knew she was alive. So, I did a difficult thing for me....I quickly snapped her neck, so that she could exit her body. As her neck broke, her eyes opened up and she looked directly at me -- but otherwise she was completely still and never moved. As she died, I kept telling her how much I love her. This morning early we buried her beside her favorite resting spot in the yard. I feel so sad.

I hope Missy makes it. Let us know.
Thank you all for your suggestions and concern about Missy. Feathersnuggles, I'm very sorry for your loss.

I'm also very sorry to report that Missy died yesterday. A veterinarian came to examine her the day after I posted the supplement to my original post. Missy was still in the same condition, and also had produced some green poop. Her vent wasn't inflamed, and when the doctor felt her abdomen, it didn't feel as though there were any eggs inside. The doctor tested her blood and a sample of the green poop. There were no parasites in the poop, and the blood work didn't reveal any signs of an infection. The doctor concluded that Missy probably had either an inflamed reproductive tract or a nutritional deficiency. She recommended that we make Missy comfortable, provide her with some crushed oyster shells, and dose her water with vitamin D3 and some apple cider vinegar for a few days. On the recommendation of someone at the feed store, I also made some cooked white rice available to her because at first she didn't seem to be eating. Missy seemed to perk up after that, and to improve little by little over the course of about a week. Her tail gradually came up, and she eventually started to spend at least part of the day in the yard foraging with the other two chickens in her flock. But two days ago, Missy went into one of the nesting boxes in the late morning or early afternoon. I thought that she was getting ready to lay an egg (which I took to be a good sign of her recovery), but she stayed there for the rest of the day. Yesterday she didn't leave the nesting box at all, and died sometime yesterday afternoon.

I buried her today wrapped in a little towel on a bed of wood shavings between two peonies in a little garden near the coop where her flock likes to scratch for bugs, along with some of the beautiful green eggs that she gave us, the two eggs laid by her flock mates on which she was sitting when she died, some water, some crushed oyster shells, and some of the things that she liked to eat. She was the friendliest hen in our little flock. Although Missy was with us for only a short time, we will miss her very much.

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