Lash Egg: the grossest egg your hens will lay October 21, 2016

While most of the eggs your hens will lay are going to be  normal, to start off October on a Halloween-ey note, I thought we’d take a moment to discuss the lash egg, which is grossest egg you’ll ever see from your flock… if you enter the Twilight Zone!

BWA-HAHAHAHA! (That was my evil laugh.) But the tale I’m going to tell you is true.

Hens will lay some strange-looking eggs from time to time in the darkness of their nests. Here’s how it happens: Within their secluded and private nesting chambers, your feathered fiends enter their egg trance. Their eggs are laid after some labor and effort, after which they emit that mad, bloodcurdling egg cackle!  Okay… it’s not exactly blood-curdling, but work with me here.

Your feathered friends may lay eggs with ridges on the shell, or calcium “pimples.” Sometimes eggs can be misshapen, tiny “witch eggs,” or gigantic eggs with blood on the shell (poor girls!). You might find blood spots on the inside. You might see a soft egg–all membrane and no shell! Or you might get an egg within an egg.

Icky! How’m I doing? I just want you to be in the Halloween mood.

The grossest egg is the Lash Egg

Yes, the grossest egg your hens will ever lay is the infamous LASH EGG. Although this post is clearly tongue-in-cheek over dramatic, I promise you calling it “the grossest” is really not an exaggeration.

Behold: child of Franken-hen!

lash egg, grossest egg

(Lash egg photo courtesy of Kate W from CT.)

“Lash egg” might be the creepiest name anyone could come up with, evoking thoughts of whips and punishment. Where did that name come from? I have not been able to find any etymology, except that these have been referred to as “lash eggs” since at least 1830.

In fact, the production of a lash egg means your hen is ill with salpingitis—read more about salpingitis if you dare— because she’s laid an egg that is not really an egg at all. This fleshy mass takes on the shape of an egg, because it passes through her reproductive system. It consists of parts of the lining of her reproductive tract, plus pus and other disgusting materials that can be the consistency of cheese or cooked yolks. Cut open, it can unfurl like fleshy ribbons, with layers like some accursed onion-of-the-damned, or a tell-tale artichoke heart.

I make light, because this is an Octobery, Halloween-ey post, but in truth salpingitis is a serious matter, essentially the Pelvic Inflammatory Disease of poultry. It’s a potentially fatal infection caused by an infection in the oviduct. You may think you need to call in a priest for an exorcism, but you should really consult a vet if your hen lays a lash egg—and do it as soon as possible.

Consult a Vet for Lash Eggs

It does happen sometimes that a lash egg is a one-time occurrence, a relatively minor infection from which your hen may recover, but it is more likely to be serious and need treatment. If your vet diagnoses your hen with a bacterial infection, she could respond to antibiotics if you’ve caught it early enough. So, your Hen Horror story could have a happy ending.

The bottom line is: if you get a lash egg, don’t freak out.

I take that back… feel free to freak out a little. But remember youmight be able to save your hen with help from your veterinarian, and in the future this whole nightmare could just make for a good scary ghost story to share among your chicken friends.

Please tell us about your lash eggs (or scariest eggs) below in the comments. If you have a good photo of a lash egg, we’ll be happy to post it here. Just email your photo to info@mypetchicken.com, and we’ll credit you.

9 Comments
Carolyn Farrell October 21st, 2016

Stop!! You are terrifying me!! Now I will checking every nesting box with horror and trepidation ! Hahaha . Seriously hope to never experience this with my beautiful beloveds.

Bryan C. October 21st, 2016

Yep. Seen them. I am getting therapy. They say I will be alright, just run of the mill PTSD. There are meds for it….

Jodi Easton October 23rd, 2016

how about an egg that is a little larger than a nickle? Anything to worry about there?

Lissa October 24th, 2016

Probably nothing to worry about. Those are often called “witch eggs” or “fairy eggs,” and you can read more about them by following the link in the text above, or the one I’ve put here.

Brian October 26th, 2016

What about the rare egg without a shell? I have gotten 2 in the past year, it is like just the lining inside the shell is holding it togather…..Feels knida like those splatballs they sell at the mall.

Lissa October 31st, 2016

Yes, those are weird, too! There is a link above where I mention “all membrane and no shell,” with more info about shell-less eggs. My vote for grossest is still probably the lash egg, but shell-less eggs might come in second for me…

Leslie December 8th, 2016

I got quite a surprise this morning. A regular size egg with a little baby soft shell egg inside it. 0o0.

Donna December 13th, 2016

My Golden Comet Mary, laid 2 lash eggs before she passed on. Poor little thing. I’ve seen more of the hybrids/production breeds have this problem than heritage breeds. I’m no scientist but now I just stick to the heritage breeds. Usually by the time you’re seeing a lash egg, it’s probably too late to do much good. The infection will have scarred up the reproductive track and the hen will probably have issues with all eggs from then on out especially with being egg-bound. No way to overcome that once it happens. Of course I find all this out AFTER Mary was gone.

Kristan Gibbs May 31st, 2017

I think I had the grossest lash egg ever! Looked like a big blood clot! I’ll try to post a picture.

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