<img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_073505_the_pole.jpg" alt="graphic" width="454" height="340" /><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_073544_strange_eggs2.jpg" alt="graphic" width="397" height="529" /><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_073624_strange_eggs.jpg" alt="graphic" width="397" height="223" /><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_073710_hen_house_just_cleaned_out.jpg" alt="graphic" width="454" height="255" /><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_073745_dotty_and_the_bantums.jpg" alt="graphic" width="397" height="223" /><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_073814_bo.jpg" alt="graphic" width="397" height="298" /><img src="http://www.justanswer.com/%3Ca%20href=" alt="" width="28" height="30" />http://www.justanswer.com/%3Ca%20href=" alt="" width="28" height="30"><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_072841_the_pole.jpg" target="_blank">http://s3.amazonaws.com/f01.justanswer.com/JACUSTOMERsnl0w6lq/2011-02-04_072841_the_pole.jpg"</a>; alt="graphic" width="454" height="340">We have 4 chickens, a polish, a Plymouth rock and 2 hybrids of Rhode Island Red and something. I am very concerned about the state of the eggs. Suddenly we are finding eggs that are unformed, some have rough surfaces and red markings on them. Some have been exceptionally large with many creases and lately we are getting odd shaped eggs. The reds are only new to the flock and bought from a reputable dealer (about 3 months) they are so tame, they love to be picked up and patted and follow us around when we walk in the backyard. The Pole and Plymouth were bought from vet but less friendly. The pole always looks vacant and sick although she eats well and socializes with the others, she doesn’t lay anymore , shes about 2 yrs. We have fed them a variety of commercial mixes for laying hens including organic laying mixture. They receive scraps, we grind their shells and feed them back and they also have grit. I have wormed them regularly. Their hen house is open, so they roost at night and come and go as they please. Unfortunately we also have a lot of brush turkeys and I have recently seen them in the hen house when I have returned from work in the evening. Last night there were three eggs, in the laying boxes, and one had been pecked open with a large hole at the end. The turkeys are often bathing in the dirt with the chickens .We also have crows. I haven’t investigated mites yet, I’ve looked at their beaks and feet and I can’t see anything abnormal. We also have 4 bantums from next door that stay over during the day and eat our food. They lay at home.
Type of Animal: Chicken
Age: 8-18 months
Name of Bird: various
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob.
I'm sorry to read of the problem you're having with your flock.
Judging from your description of the changes in the eggs, I suspect that the affected hens may have had infectious bronchitis (IB) in the past, and now have permanently damaged reproductive tracts due to the infection. Infectious bronchitis affects both the respiratory system and the reproductive tracts of chickens. IB is the most contagious poultry disease there is, capable of spreading up to 1000 feet through the air. Recovered birds become life-long carriers, a fact to keep in mind when replenishing your flock.
You can read more in detail about this syndrome here: http://www.afn.org/~poultry/flkman3.htm
There are other diseases that can cause changes to the eggs, but IB is by far the most common, and the changes expected are just what you're seeing.
The pecked egg was probably the result of cannibalism by one of the hens, the turkeys or the crows. Egg eating can be a bad habit in layers, but you've got too many potential suspects who have access to the eggs to be able to assign blame at this point.
If you should have further questions, please let me know.
Hello Dr Bob
Thank you for your answer although it's not good. I was hoping that it would be something that can be fixed. What should we do with the flock? Are the eggs OK to eat? Can the chickens be tested for confirmation?
No, it's not good, sorry.
Other than by symptoms, which as I mentioned are shared with other diseases to some extent, laboratory identification of the virus is the only way to definitively diagnose IB. Post mortem findings in birds dying of the disease include swollen pale kidneys, urate crystals in the tubes leading from the kidneys (ureters), fluid yolk or whole eggs found free in the abdominal cavities of hens.
Fortunately the virus doesn't survive long in the environment, and will die out within a week. It is also quite susceptible to viral disinfectants.
This problem is tough to manage, but you can help prevent it by not mixing birds from different sources and of varying ages, vaccination may help, but the virus mutates very quickly and may cause infections in spite of vaccination, you can treat the birds a broad-spectrum antibiotic and electrolytes in the drinking water.. Air-sac disease is a common secondary infection following IB. Google "air-ac disease in chickens" for the symptoms of this complication. The broad-spectrum antibiotics should help control air-sac disease.
Survivors of IB carry a lifelong immunity, but are also carriers for life. Layers should return to production in 6 - 8 weeks, but their level of productivity may never return to former levels.
There is no known human health risk either form the birds or the eggs.
35 years in general practice, including avian.
Thank you for your prompt and professional advice.