Finding an egg in the nest box with blood on the shell can give any chicken keeper quite the scare… At least it did for me, my first time, a few years ago! However, they are not always dangerous. Bloody eggs generally come from young hens and pullets coming into lay. However, it can happen at almost any age. So… how does it happen… and maybe more importantly, when is it dangerous?
Young Hens laying a Bloody Egg:
When a young hen begins to lay, her internal reproductive system is still adjusting to its new task. This task includes creating, moving, holding and expelling eggs. During the early stages of this process, some small blood vessels in the oviduct may rupture. This may occur a few times until the hen’s internal system stretches to the appropriate size and settles.
Middle- aged or Older Hens (2-3+ years old) laying a Bloody Egg:
A bloody egg layed by older/middle-aged hen can be the result of a sudden increase in egg size. An increase in egg-size cause a few blood vessels to rupture in the oviduct. Bloody eggs in older/adult hens can also be caused by a sudden increase of day-light. This is because hens’ egg laying cycles are controlled by the daylight. Sudden increases in light can cause a hen’s body to think it needs to increase its egg production.
Picking & Bloody Egg Shells:
Sometimes blood on the outer surface of the egg can be a sign of picking. When chickens pick on each other, the soft down near the hent is often targeted. When there is blood near the vent, it can result in blood left on eggs layed by the abused hen. Check the vent area of the hen who layed the egg. If you find blood and any abrasions on the external surface of the vent area, clean it gently with a soft, clean wash-cloth and apply a wound/skin care salve. Vetricyn or an over the counter anti-bacterial wound ointment (like NeoSporain) work well. If excessive picking (i.e. picking that leads to feather-loss or injuries) occurs in your flock, than you may need to consider giving your chickens more space or keeping less chickens. Flock-blocks/seed-blocks and grass-clippings may help prevent picking by keeping chickens busy.