When you raise your own chickens, you will eventually come across a bloody egg. This can be alarming-especially if you don’t know what causes it or how to treat it.
Why do hens lay bloody eggs? The most common cause of bloody eggs is when a young hen starts laying eggs and a blood vessel in the vent area bursts during the laying. Other reasons can include wear and tear related to aging in older hens, prolapse, or mites. Bullying is a rare, but possible cause.
There are various signs for each cause of a bloody egg. Let’s dive into these causes and what steps you should take as a chicken owner to help ensure the safety and health of your hens.
Reasons Hens Lay Eggs With Blood On Them
There are several reasons you are seeing bloody eggs. First, identify how frequently it occurs. Most hens have occasionally bloody eggs without any concerning reasons. Approximately one in every 3-4 dozen eggs can be bloody without any issues.
If you have many laying hens, then you will probably see an occasional bloody egg. It’s important to track your bloody eggs and try to figure out which hen is laying them. If one hen consistently lays bloody eggs, then it usually spells health issues with your hen. It also helps you to identify the probable causes and to take measures to help your hen.
Let’s dive into the most common reasons why hens lay bloody eggs.
1. Young Hens Will Often Bleed When They Start Laying Eggs.
The most common reason for hens to lay a bloody egg is when a young hen first starts laying eggs. Usually, her reproductive tract isn’t used to passing eggs and she may break a blood vessel laying eggs.
This may happen on the first few eggs, or it may occur early in her egg-laying after she has already laid non-bloody eggs. A new hen’s eggs will vary by size and larger eggs can cause her to bleed.
As her vent stretches out, it will become very elastic and she will stop bleeding. Most chickens won’t continue to bleed when they lay eggs because their bodies get used to passing the eggs without any broken blood vessels.
Solutions for young hens laying bloody eggs:
- Allow the hen to continue to lay and if the bloody eggs go away after 3 or 4, everything is good!
- Apply vaseline to the vent area to make it easier for her to lay eggs
- Warm-up her vent area so her skin is more elastic
2. Irregular Eggs Can Cause Bleeding
Larger than normal eggs, rough shelled eggs, and thin eggs can also cause bleeding in hens. Irregular calcium in a hen’s diet can cause rough eggs that tear at the insides of the reproductive tract, oviduct, and cloaca.
Check the bloody egg and feel if it feels rough. If it does, this is likely the cause of the egg being bloody. It also means that your hen needs greater access to calcium. Supplement their diet with oyster shells to provide the needed calcium.
Another cause is if the eggs are thin. Occasionally, a thin egg may break inside the hen. The rough breakage of the shell can rip or cut the insides of your hen’s reproductive ducts. A lack of calcium causes thin-shelled eggs.
- Rough eggshells can rip at the inside of a hen’s reproductive organs
- Thin eggshells can break inside the hen and cut her
The best solution to irregular shells is to supply your flock with a constant supply of calcium so that hens can eat as much as they need. They won’t overeat oyster shells, but will instinctively know how much their body needs.
3. Older Hens Can Bleed On Eggs
An experienced, older hen can bleed on her eggs. Usually, this happens when she lays a larger than normal egg and it stretches her out causing bleeding.
If the bleeding is occasional or shows streaks of blood, then there isn’t anything to worry about. She should continue to lay clean eggs without further blood issues on the eggs. But, if the eggs are severely covered in blood, it usually indicates a bigger health issue with the hen.
If an older hen lays an occasional large, bloody egg, there isn’t anything to worry about. But you could do the following things to ease her discomfort:
- Wash her vent area with warm water
- Apply hemorrhoid cream to her vent area
- Watch to make sure other hens are pecking at the red area
We’ll cover how to treat more serious issues later in this article.
4. Mites Can Cause Bloody Eggs
A less common issue that hens may face is with mites. Mites can infest a flock and will bite and get under their skin and feathers. The rump is a popular area for mites to bite.
If a hen lays an egg and a mite get squished during the process, the blood from the mite can smear onto the egg.
Inspect your hen’s rumps, legs, and feathers for signs of mites. Hang a white cloth in your coop and inspect it for mites. If you find any mites on your hens or in the coop, you will need to take action to get rid of them.
Check out this article on identifying and getting rid of mites. Usually, good husbandry habits will keep mites away. Make sure that your hens have enough room and that the coop is kept clean.
5. Prolapse Causes Extremely Bloody Eggs
Prolapse in hens is a very dangerous condition that usually results in the eventual death of the hen. Many of today’s chicken breeds have been bred to lay a high number of eggs in a short amount of time.
That’s contrary to the heritage breeds which would lay 2-4 eggs a week for many years. Today’s breeds only live for about 5-7 years, but they stop the majority of their egg-laying after 2 years with most of the eggs being laid between 6 months and 1.5 years old.
All that egg-laying wears out the hen’s reproductive tract. As a result, prolapse can occur.
Prolapse is when a part of the hen’s internal organs come out while she is attempting to lay an egg. The part that comes out is usually the oviduct or egg-laying tube.
Obviously having part of her innards on the outside is extremely dangerous for her. Other hens will usually start pecking at the red prolapse and can quickly cause her to bleed to death or introduce infection into her body.
When you have very bloody eggs, take the time to inspect the bottoms of all of your hens. Look for a hen with a very pecked bottom or with red tissue coming out or anything sticking out of the vent area.
Separate that hen immediately from the rest of the flock. If you have access to a vet that will treat chickens, it’s a good idea to get the help of a vet in treating prolapse. Most vets don’t treat poultry animals.
6. Bullying To The Vent Area Can Cause Bloody Eggs
The bum or vent area is an easy target for bully chickens. It’s more devoid of feathers than other areas and is an easy place for pecking.
Pecking at the bum area can cause a sore and red bum that can bleed on the eggs when the hen lays an egg.
Check bums for signs of bullying and feather plucking. If you see signs of bullying, then there are several steps you can take to stop bullies and signs to recognize bullying. Most of the time bullying is a result of boredom and being cramped.
- Separate the picked on hen from the rest of the flock
- Treat the wounded area to stop the bleeding. I use Kwik Stop.
- Apply a first aid spray to turn the area purple so hens don’t continue to peck at the area. I use Gentian or Lincoln Purple Spray for this.
How To Treat Prolapse In Hens
Prolapse is one of the most serious reasons hens lay bloody eggs. Hens with untreated prolapse will usually die. Even when hens are promptly treated, there is still a good chance they may die as prolapse is a sign of internal stress and deteriorating health.
Treating prolapse takes many steps and diligent care of your hens. To treat prolapse, do the following:
- Immediately separate the injured hen from all other hens and roosters
- Wash the prolapsed area with warm water with an antiseptic in it.
- Check the prolapse for an unlaid egg. Do this gently. If you find an egg, then gently remove it from the prolapse. Be careful not to break the egg. If it does break, make sure you remove all the shells and yolk from inside.
- Gently tuck the hens head under your arm and with clean hands or gloves, gently tuck the prolapse back inside the vent area. A clean cloth can also be used.
- If the prolapse seems swollen, a hemorrhoid cream can be applied to help the prolapse to shrink. This will help it to go back inside the vent easier.
- You don’t want her to lay any eggs for several days. Put the hen in a darkened room or shed. Feed her water, but don’t feed her any food for 24 hours. This will hopefully keep her from laying an egg the next day.
- For the next week, feed her reduced food. Do not feed her any layer food as you need to give her time to recover and for the prolapse to heal.
- If she does get another prolapse soon afterward, seek a vets care or repeat these steps.
The more often a hen gets prolapse, the less likely she is to survive. Prolapse can introduce infection to your hen and cause death. However, more often, it is a sign that her body is wearing out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Bloody Eggs Be Eaten Safely? Eggs that are bloody on the outside are safe to be eaten. Simply wash the eggs off and eat them as normal. If the eggshell is cracked, whether it’s bloody or not, avoid eating it. Instead, cook it and feed it to your hens.
Are Eggs With Blood Spots Safe To Eat? Some eggs may have an egg spot inside the egg on the yolk. Eggs with blood spots are safe to eat, although the blood may make it appetizing. You can remove the blood spot with a fork or knife.
If a blood vessel bursts when the egg leaves the follicle, then the blood spot will be in the egg white. If a blood vessel bursts when the egg is in the ovaries, the blood spot will be in the yolk.
Brown egg layers have a higher occurrence of blood in the egg than white egg layers. No one knows why.
What Causes Blood Spots In Eggs? Blood spots are generally caused when the hen is making the egg and gets startled or jostled. A dietary deficiency can also cause blood spots. If your hens are low on Vitamins A and K, it can cause blood spots. Another cause is if the chicken has unnatural lighting such as lighting 24 hours a day. Hens need enough dark hours to properly produce an egg.
What Causes the White Spot on Egg Yolks? If you have roosters, then you may also see a white spot or a bullseye in the yolk of an egg. The white bullseye occurs when the egg is fertilized and is the rooster’s DNA. It is harmless to eat.
Resources Mentioned In This Article
These resources are items I use regularly in caring for my hens.
Oyster Shells: The Manna Pro Oyster Shells on Amazon are a great product. Oyster shells last a while. I was surprised by how long they last. The girls only need a little a day to stay healthy and have strong eggshells.
Hemorrhoid Cream: Any hemorrhoid cream will help with prolapse, but I’ve used Preparation H most often.
Miracle Care Kwik Stop Styptic Solution: Kwik Stop is a powder that helps to stop bleeding quickly. It is formulated for pets, including birds. It’s helpful to stop bleeding of wounds and help your chickens heal quicker. You can find Miracle Care Kwik Stop here on Amazon.
Lincoln Purple Spray: Purple spray turns a red or bloody area purple so that bullies in a flock stop pecking at the wounded area. It will help your hens to heal faster because it can heal undisturbed. You can find Lincoln Purple Spray on Amazon.
Gentian Violet Spray: This Gentian Violet Spray is approved for use on people or animals. In addition to turning the area purple, it is also an antiseptic and will help the wound to heal faster. I prefer this even over the Lincoln purple spray because of its dual purposes. I also like that it can be used for people’s wounds as well. You can find Gentian Violet Spray on Amazon.
These related articles may also help you in dealing with hen health issues and other chicken questions you may have.