Hens lay an egg every 26 hours.
Most of the time, this process happens easily without incident.
However, a hen will occasionally become egg bound or have an egg break as she attempts to lay.
This is a concerning incident and leads chicken owners to wonder what to do if an egg breaks inside a chicken.
If an egg breaks inside a hen, take it to the vet immediately. Small fragments of the shell will remain inside the cloaca and pose risks for infection. The vet will check for injury and treat with antibiotics to prevent the onset of peritonitis. This is occasionally fatal and should be treated quickly.
Seeing your hens uncomfortable and lethargic from having an egg break inside is never fun.
Let’s look into what to do if an egg breaks inside your chicken and how to prevent it.
What Do I Do If An Egg Broke Inside My Hen?
They are likely extremely uncomfortable if you have an egg-bound chicken or hen with a broken egg inside.
While this is common in elderly chickens, all laying hens are at risk.
It is uncommon for eggs to break so long as the backyard chickens are healthy and have a well-balanced diet.
If an egg breaks inside, the best thing to do is call the vet.
Some chicken keepers attempt manual manipulation of the egg shell to remove all pieces, which puts them at risk of egg yolk peritonitis.
It’s best to get antibiotics to start treatment for possible bacterial infection as soon as possible.
It helps to give them a warm bath, supplemental calcium, and a relaxed area where they are alone and won’t be bothered.
Backyard hens with broken eggs inside are usually lethargic and fluffed out.
They will also experience abdominal straining.
A broken egg inside a chicken is potentially a life-threatening condition if not treated, so acting quickly is key.
Signs Of Egg Breaks In Laying Hens
Eggs breaking inside the hen quickly becomes an emergency if not treated quickly.
Egg-bound chickens often die if they do not pass the egg in 48 hours.
With broken eggs, the biggest concern is a bacterial infection and abdominal infection from leftover shell pieces.
Acting quickly with proper treatment will help your chickens stay safe and get through the situation.
Here are some signs of egg breaks in laying hens:
- Hens with egg yolk on them but no signs of a shell
- Abdominal straining
- Muscle weakness
- Shaky wings
- Fluffed out feathers
- Decrease or halt normal defecation
How To Treat A Chicken With A Broken Egg Inside
If you find one of your laying hens has had an egg break inside during the laying process, there are a few at-home treatments.
Ultimately, if she still shows discomfort after 24 hours, we recommend taking her to the vet.
They will be able to give the proper treatment and animal antibiotics needed to protect her against serious reproductive tract infections.
Give Your Hen A Warm Bath
The first thing to do is bring your hen inside. Place the lower half of your hen in warm water.
Add magnesium to the water to help assist with the relaxation of the vent muscles.
This will help her to pass the fragments.
Lubricate The Vent
Use vegetable oil to lubricate the vent.
Eggshell fragments are uncomfortable to pass, and the oil will help to make passing these pieces much easier on your hen.
Put Her In A Warm, Dark Place
Use a dog crate or similar enclosure to isolate your chicken.
Heat and humidity help to ease the egg shell passing process.
Consider putting a heating blanket and humidifier near the enclosure.
Give Your Hen Supplemental Calcium
Supplemental calcium is a great way to assist your hen during this time.
Liquid calcium or powdered oyster shells are great for helping her build up the necessary nutrients.
Repeat The Process Until The Shell Fragments Pass
Continue to soak your hen in warm water, lubricate, and isolate until she has successfully passed the egg shell remnants.
It may take a few times to succeed but keep at it.
Take Your Hen To The Vet
If your hen has not passed the broken egg shell fragments after multiple treatments, it’s time to take her to the vet.
The longer you wait, the higher the chance for infections forming and turning the situation into a life-threatening condition.
The vet will supply antibiotics and may be able to remove the shell fragments.
Why Are Eggs Breaking Inside My Chickens?
Ideally, our chickens always lay eggs with ease.
However, this is not always the case.
For hens to lay consistently healthy eggs without issue, you must provide proper care.
Egg retention happens for various reasons, and so does eggs breaking.
Lack Of Calcium
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for egg-laying hens.
It is vital for the formation of the shell.
If eggs come out fragile or breaking, chances are it is due to a calcium deficiency in the laying hen.
Consider incorporating supplemental calcium or offering calcium-rich treats. Here are a few healthy and tasty sources of calcium for chickens:
- Oyster shells
Lack Of Magnesium and Vitamin D
Magnesium and vitamin D are other vitamins capable of causing soft or broken egg shells in a hen.
Make sure the chicken feed you give your flock has sufficient magnesium and vitamin D levels, and consider incorporating healthy treats to supplement and achieve a balanced diet.
Internal parasites have many health implications on chickens.
If you do not regularly treat your flock with a dewormer, they may suffer from parasites.
This may be the culprit behind your hen laying broken eggs or soft shells.
Too Large Of Eggs
Occasionally, a chicken will produce a large egg.
Usually, this is due to a double-yolked egg.
Most healthy and mature hens will pass these without issue, but younger pullets may not be equipped to pass such large eggs, and the shells will break in the vent.
Related Reading: Why your chicken eggs have blood on the shells