Strange soft egg - should I start antibiotics?


In the Brooder
Feb 18, 2015
Western Maine
One of our hens started acting strange yesterday - spending too much time in a nest box, not responsive to handling, not eating. We isolated her in the garage in a dog crate, where she would stand very still, fluffed up, and clearly straining/contracting (but not doing the penguin stance - just regular standing but fluffed up and tail level/down).

We did some reading, then gave her a warm bath, some liquid calcium, and some nutri-drench. We left her in the dog crate overnight, and she passed a very watery, clear stool before bed.

Woke up this morning and she had passed a very strange, soft, collapsed shell, and I found the yolk at the back of her crate, separate from the shell. She had eaten some of the soft egg thing and yolk, so I can't be sure whether it came out whole or already broken. She scarfed down some scrambled egg and pellets and drank a bunch of water, and is overall acting much more normal and active this morning.

So now I'm wondering what happened, and whether we need to treat her with anything else.

This particular chicken is the smallest of the group with a very small comb, so this could be her first egg. We also gave them a large pumpkin recently, so possibly she was calcium deficient.

Or she could have a reproductive issue, and possible infection. And if she doesn't now, then she could begin one if that egg broke inside her.

I guess the primary question is - should I start a round of prophylactic antibiotics? Or just monitor her for a while and see how she does? If I should do antibiotics, what kind - oxytetracycline, metronidazole, etc.? Is there anything else we should be giving?


7 Years
Dec 10, 2012
Maybe some calcium so she can form the shell for her eggs. If she is small, she may not be getting enough feed. I have had hens lay soft shelled eggs and they are fine. I increased their calcium and saw much improvement.


6 Years
Aug 29, 2014
Panama City, FL
What you are describing sounds like she was having a hard time passing an egg. And since she is new to laying, it's not uncommon for them to lay shell-less/soft eggs or other weird things until their pipes get in order.

I wouldn't start any antibiotics. If the shell/yolk was in the crate, her body should be able to deal with the little bit that may have been left behind. I'm inclined to believe she just pecked the yolk out of her egg though and it was passed whole. Otherwise, you would see the yolk being passed a bit at a time.

I think what you did was perfect; a warm bath and some calcium. If she is acting better, then it sounds like she just needed to pass the egg. I would just monitor her closely to make sure it isn't a recurring issue and provide some oyster shells, free choice too.

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