What is a Lash Egg?!?!

Let me start by saying, a “lash egg” is NOT an egg at all. Oh no. Some may be more egg shaped then the one I found in my coop the other night, but trust me, this alien looking thing is far from an egg and an indicator that something is really wrong in the reproductive tract of one of your hens!

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Lash eggs are pretty gross and are the result of an infection and inflammation of the oviduct. Medically it is called Salpingitis. If you are squeamish, stop reading now….. There is yucky stuff ahead. Like gagging descriptions and photos that might make some squirm.

To fight the infection a hen’s body sheds off pus and other material accumulated in her body and “lays it” like an egg. See, I told you it was gross! When you finish gagging we will continue….

When I found my lash egg, I kind of knew what it was because I had heard of it before, but had never actually seen one. They are pretty rare. I was also pretty sure who had laid it, Grumpy Goldie. She laid great for about the first year of her life and then, well she was just always “off.” In fact she hasn’t laid an egg in years. She is going on 5 years old. A couple years back I thought she was egg bound, but after soaking in warm water and putting my finger in her vent, I found no obstruction. Her egg laying didn’t really matter to me as she is the Alpha hen and had her wings full keeping everyone in the coop in line.

So back to the whole lash egg thing….. The lash egg is made up of layers of material that have accumulated in the oviduct, all that yucky stuff from the infection. A lash egg can be soft or hard. It can be just a small amount of pus like material or it can resemble an egg and might even include pieces of egg. Why so varied? Well because the hen’s body is trying to encapsulate all that yuck in her reproductive tract and get it out, so it bundles up what ever might be in there and she “lays it” in an attempt to ride her body of the infection.

Of course being the weirdo farm girl that I am, once I found the lash egg I just HAD to see what was inside. So I took it in the house and dissected the alien like glob. When you cut open a firmer lash egg, you are able to see the layers of material, aka gunk, that had been encapsulated inside. Here are the glorious photos of what I found.

What you’re looking at here is pus and other material that has basically been collected in layers and cooked due to the internal temperature of the chickens body as it slowly moves down her reproductive tract. Lovely, isn’t it. Well maybe not to you and me, but our vet was so excited when I brought this in to her. She had never seen one in real life in her whole career and was delighted when I gifted it to her so she could put it in formaldehyde and add it to her specimen collection! She was down right giddy!

So what causes a lash egg? 

Lash eggs are caused by bacteria, including Mycoplasma gallisepticum, E. coli, Salmonella, or Pasteurella multocida

So what do you do if your chicken lays a lash egg?

Don’t freak out! Searching the internet can give you a LOT of misinformation that will lead you to believe your hen is going to die or should be culled. This is far from true for a backyard chicken keeper. In many commercial settings, they do cull hens who lay a lash egg, they’re in business to make money and a chicken with an infection is not profitable to treat or keep. But for backyard chicken keepers that is not the case.

If left untreated, you hen could die from the infection. The key word here is COULD. Grumpy Goldie has had reproductive issues for almost four years now. Who knows how long she has lived with this infection. By the time a chicken shows she is ill, it could be too late. Chickens are great at hiding their illnesses. The vet and I agree she has had this infection at least a year if not longer. So don’t freak out if you get a lash egg. While rare, they are NOT an immediate death sentence.

We did take our hen to the vet. I know some of you are giggling at me right now, but I had no idea what antibiotic to use on Goldie and the vet could not give me anything for her legally without seeing her first. So off to the vet we went.

Based on her weight (5 1/2 lbs) the vet prescribed Goldie 0.5 ml of Baytril 20 -22.7mg (5 tablets into 5 ml of H20). Well that’s what the bottle o f antibiotic said! This translates to me that she crushed up some antibiotics into a solution of water so I could shoot it down Goldie’s beak with a syringe. LOL Goldie will be taking her medication once a day for 10 days. So, if you do get a lash egg, your best bet is to see a vet.

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What is the prognosis for a hen who lays a lash egg?

As with any illness, the hen may or may not ever lay another egg depending how long the infection has been present. Our vet expects Goldie to make a full recovery, but seriously doubts she will ever lay another egg. And ya know what? I am totally okay with that. She is one of our first hens, she is getting older anyway, and well being the alpha hen is hard work in and of itself.

So if you do every find a lash egg remember, don’t freak out, see a vet, and save it for your vet, they might thank you!

53 thoughts on “What is a Lash Egg?!?!

  1. Yes, ewwwww, but weirdly fascinating at the same time. 🙂 Thanks to Grumpy Goldie's lash egg and the vets proactive move to preserve it in formaldehyde many people will get the rare experience of seeing this "golden egg." Chalk one up for education.

    1. I know what you mean. I was grossed out when I found it but so excited to dissect it! LOL It really has been a neat experience despite Goldie having an nasty infection.

  2. Thank you for sharing this info. We don't have any chickens but my don does. I would freak out if I had seen this before I read your story..

  3. Wow. That is very interesting. I am not a farm girl or have chickens, but I have a son who is very into biology and all kinds of stuff like this, so I guess I am used to it. Very informative, thanks for sharing.

    1. I was not totally grossed out, just surprised when I found it. I couldn't wait to see what the inside looked like LOL I just know stuff like this usually grosses folks out.

  4. Oh bless her, I'm in love with Grumpy Goldie already! I don't keep chickens but my dad does, I'll ask him if he's ever heard of it. (we like to have fun conversations like that) I am in equal measure grossed out and fascinated.
    Here in the UK we have an expression "going out on the lash" which is going out drinking and partying, do you think they are connected??!

  5. It looks like she was trying to lay eggs but couldn't. Glad you took her to the vet. So she will feel better soon. Can that infection be easily passed on to your other chickens?

  6. That's pretty gross, but interesting info. I hadn't heard of this before. I've had chickens off and on my whole life, so the next time I get a flock I'll be aware of this!

  7. This was so interesting. I want to have chickens someday, so this will help me not freak out if this ever happens! Thanks for all the detail…even the gross parts!

    1. LOL You're welcome. And don't worry too much. I have had chickens all my life (I'm 41) and this was a first!

  8. Being a former nurse, this fascinated me. I am glad you did share such detailed information. I've never known of any of my hens I've had, to have this problem. I would have freaked out at first…then curiosity would have overtaken me. Your information is invaluable.

    1. Thank you so much for all your kind words. Curiosity got me. LOL That's why I dissected it! This is by no means a death sentence for a hen and I just wanted folks to know that, despite what a google search might scare them into believing.

  9. How in the world did you know it was this particular chicken? We have 7 girls and I would have no clue which one layed it….

    1. Goldie only laid right for the first year of her life. She acted egg bound onde but there was nothing. She occasionally had nasty butt over the last four years and no laying, so I kinda had an idea she was the one.

  10. You learn something new every day. Thank you so much. This falls under the so gross its cool category.

  11. I found one of those in my coop before and didn't know what it was. I thought it was some weird deformed egg and didn't do anything about it. I have not found one since and that was a few months ago…

    1. Check their butts. If one has an icky bum, she might be the one to keep an eye on. Goldie had nasty poo feathers.

  12. Lol I am sure your post will be handy for anyone with chickens, thanks for sharing on #overthemoon

    1. They are rare, but shocking when you do find one. Everyone should know what it is, just in case. LOL

  13. Thank you–this was so interesting. I wasn't grossed out at all but I am a nurse (and have raised seven kids lol). Very cool article.

  14. I found you on the Oak Hill Homestead blog hop. I've had lots of chickens over the years, mostly Bantams, and never came across anything like this. Of course, knowing chickens, they could have eaten it first. Now that's gross!

  15. Thanks for the information! I'd never heard of lash "eggs" before. We have a 6-yo hen that hasn't laid in years, but we don't care either. She's the only one left of our original flock and she's more of a pet now 🙂

  16. Oh wow.. this is definitely the grosses post but it is very informative! I have had chickens for sometime and grew up around them but I had never seen such a thing. Thanks for sharing your information.

  17. Are you (and your vet) aware that baytril (enrofloxacin) has been illegal to use in ANY poultry for a decade? Just make sure that hen never enters the food supply chain, though, and things should be fine. But you'll probably want to know, and your vet, too.

    I had a hen lay two very small lash eggs last spring, but sadly in her case it was the tail-end of a cancer battle. (Which was actually how I found out about the baytril – the first vet we went to prescribed it, because we thought there was just a bacterial infection going around, especially since we'd just lost our rooster a couple months before to an acute infection. The second vet we went to, who finally diagnosed Ginger with cancer, was the one who told us that baytril was illegal for poultry and we should have never been prescribed it in the first place.)

    In your case, I'm glad that it doesn't seem to be more serious than just an infection for her, and from your pictures of her, she seems to be a very happy, energetic hen otherwise! Best of luck with her recovery!

    1. In 2005, the FDA withdrew approval of Baytril for use in water to treat flocks of poultry. This is more of a commercial setting issue, then a backyard one. The government was worried that massive use of the antibiotic would cause bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic, thus making the drug less effective in humans. This was the first time the FDA has ever withdrawn an agricultural antibiotic from the market because of concerns about antibiotic resistance affecting human health.

      We did not place the antibiotic in the central flock watering device, it was administered to Grumpy Goldie by syringe. As for withdrawal issues while using this antibiotic, a study (http://idosi.org/gv/gv3%285%2909/2.pdf) showed a 5 day withdrawal on both egg and meat from bird's treated with Baytril. Which doesn't really effect us, since Goldie hasn't laid in years, and most likely will never lay again.

    2. Oh Lori ((HIGS)) Birds are so good at hiding their illnesses till it is too late 🙁

  18. I'm glad she'll be okay! I have never really understood what a lash egg was before, so thanks for some great info! It's one of the favorites on From The Farm this week and we hope to see you again soon!

    1. Wouldn't miss it. And while it was not my most favorite thing I have ever found, I am glad I can share this experience with others.

  19. I'm glad Goldie is going to be OK. I would probably freak out if I found a lash egg in my coops, plus I don't know if I could ever figure out who laid it.

    Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop.

    1. It did make me pause for a moment LOL I'm not going to lie. I spend a lot of time with our flock and have raised them all from day old. I know their ins and outs, ups and downs, so I was pretty sure I knew who did it.

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