You have a chicken laying liquid eggs there is obviously something wrong with the hen. There are a few potential reasons for a hen laying an egg without a shell, or at least not a fully formed shell. The number one cause is calcium deficiency.
Why Are My Chickens Laying Liquid Eggs?
If your chickens are laying watery eggs, I know how distressing it can be.
You expect to find a nice healthy egg in their nesting box, and instead, there is just a pile of egg white and yolk and a load of mess down the back of your hen.
It’s hard to say exactly why your hen is laying a liquid egg or an egg without a shell without them being examined, but I can tell you what the most common reasons are:
The main reason why hens lay eggs with less than perfect eggshells is due to a calcium deficiency.
Eggshells are made of calcium. Laying hens need to consume around 4 grams of calcium every day to lay a healthy egg, most of which should come from a layer feed.
So, the first thing you should check is that you're using a good layer feed. Secondly, you need to be sure that your head is eating enough.
If either of these things is not happening, then your hen is simply not getting enough calcium in her diet to be able to create eggshells and produce healthy eggs.
It’s a Sign of Illness
It's also possible that your hen is sick. It's impossible to say what exactly the illness might be, you'll have to get your hen checked by an avian vet.
It Could Be Stress-Related
Hens get stressed, and the effects are very similar to when we're stressed. Not that we lay eggs! But the fact that they get sick.
The main causes of stress for chickens mostly revolve around the living conditions.
If they feel cramped, are being picked on by other chickens above them in the pecking order, are too hot or cold, and so on, then it's not uncommon for hens to lay soft eggs.
So, a watery egg is also possible. Being stressed can also cause a loss of appetite or lower their immune system, leading to similar problems. It’s a vicious circle.
Make sure your flock has adequate space in their coop, plenty of space to roam during the day, are not fighting, and are all around a happy flock!
Why Are Some Egg Whites Watery?
If your hens are laying eggs with perfect shells but the egg white inside the shell is too watery, this is a different problem.
Watery egg whites are typically the sign of how fresh the egg is, as well as the quality of the egg.
For example, eggs you collect from your backyard hens that are living in excellent conditions, being fed high-quality feed, and being given space to free-range will have a much thicker white than the typical supermarket-bought eggs.
This is because supermarket eggs from egg farmers are from hens kept in lesser conditions than your hens.
No matter how good they say their hens are treated, unless you're buying eggs from a farmers market or a dedicated farm, they're produced for profit and just can't give them the kind of life you can.
That said, watery egg whites can also be the result of illness (such as Egg drop syndrome covered below), age, or a sign that something else is not right with your hen.
If it's your backyard eggs that are watery, I would get your hen checked out by a vet to be on the safe side.
Does Peritonitis Cause Liquid Eggs?
Peritonitis is a condition that often comes up in conversation when talking about deformed eggs, but this isn’t often the cause of liquid eggs.
This condition causes the yolk that is produced by a hen to miss the infundibulum, which is the tube that carries yolks through the rest of the reproductive system to form an egg.
When a yolk misses the infundibulum it floats freely in the abdominal cavity and can cause some serious health issues for the hen.
This yolk matter is much more susceptible to becoming infected with bacteria like E. coli and any bacterias can easily spread into the bloodstream and affect a hen’s major organs.
Sometimes a hen will lay a misshapen or soft-shelled egg when they have egg yolk peritonitis, but it’s often accompanied by other symptoms and deteriorating health.
Does Egg Drop Syndrome Cause Liquid Eggs?
Egg drop syndrome '76 (EDS '76) is a viral disease that affects chickens and other birds, and can also cause eggshells to be soft, misshapen, and deformed.
It rarely causes liquid eggs to the point of a hen laying an egg without any shell at all though.
I’ve spoken with a number of chicken owners who have experienced egg drop syndrome firsthand. They all said their hens were laying intact eggs, although the shells were always very soft.
Watery egg whites, reduction in egg size, and a number of physical symptoms like loss of appetite, anemia, diarrhea, will almost certainly be visible, too.
If you have one or more chickens laying liquid eggs the cause will almost certainly be due to one or more of the reasons above.
It’s hard to diagnose the cause without having an avian vet give your chicken a good look over in-person though.
It’s always best to err on the side of caution and at least give your vet a call and see what they advise.
Liquid eggs and severely misshapen eggs carry a high risk of internal infection and causing some serious health issues and fatality if not treated.
Image credits - Photo by Eric Daoust on Unsplash