Calling all chicken experts

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This morning, Kevin opened the nest boxes and found a very mysterious object.  It was about the size of a small egg, pink and meaty, mottled with what looks like fat.

All the chickens seem normal and healthy.  They’re eating, and pecking, and dust bathing.  Nobody’s obviously at death’s door. 

But this clearly came out of a chicken, and we don’t have the foggiest idea what it is.  Do you?

The mystery in the nest box

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Comments

  1. I’ll be watching this to see what it is. Ewww. That is really freaky. Have you guys thought about contacting your local agricultural extension? I would- they will either know what this is, or be extremely interested in it.

  2. It looks like an ovary. They some times pass one. Ewww! I know!
    They should be OK, but one hen will just have one ovary fewer.
    check out backyardchickens.com if you want to see more pics of passed ovaries – that’s where I go with all my chicken questions.

  3. How bizarre? What other animals pass ovaries? How does this physically happen? Believe me, if I was passing an ovary, the chicken coop would sound like the roof was going to come off.

  4. This has been the topic of our conversation and speculation all afternoon. Mike is desperate to get over there and pull it apart. (I suppose it makes a change from his disturbing habit of bringing me pheasant guts to look at under the microscope.)

    We’ve had similar masses show up in the pheasant laying pens but they’re rare. The ones we’ve pulled apart had a yolk inside (and sometimes layers of shell). But we’ve never known exactly what it is or why it occurs.

    Our best guess based on your picture (and it’s only a semi-educated guess) is a poorly formed egg. It does have the right shape with a pointy end and a rounded end. It just doesn’t appear like something that’s been mascerated by the gizzard and passed though the digestive system, and it’s too big for vomit. The only other option is the cloaca.

    I’m not sure about the ovary theory. A chicken only has one functioning ovary so if it did become detached and pass through the oviduct you would know because that chicken would soon stop laying or at least lay yolk-less eggs. If it was an ovary I would expect to see veins, or signs of a blood supply.

    It’s common for a hen with a damaged ovary to take on male sexual characteristics: crowing, enlarged wattles, spurs. Maybe watch for changes in your flock? (Dying to make an un-PC joke about finding your chicken trying to hitchhike to P-town…)

    So that’s no answers, just more questions I’m afraid. If your chicken is laying, and well in herself, it’s hopefully a harmless anomaly. I’ll be tuning in regularly to see what more experienced people than us can come up with.

  5. Paula — I’m glad to provide you with vicarious disgust!

    Catalina — I looked at pictures of chicken ovaries online (I love backyardchickens.com), and it didn’t seem like it. This was a very solid mass with little fat globules attached to a smaller mass wtih more fat. There wasn’t anything resembling an egg. But you may very well be right.

    Jill — It’s weird, isn’t it? No matter what it was, the chicken who passed it seems to be doing fine, and didn’t make a big fuss at the time.

    Jen — We don’t know which chicken laid it, and it’s hard for us to confirm that all the chickens are now laying eggs (their production is down because they’re molting, so we don’t expect a 7-egg day from our 7 chickens, regardless).

    The thing had the texture of liverwurst, and it was solid all the way through. It didn’t resemble an egg in any way I could tell — no yolk, no shell. Is it possible it was a growth of some kind? I’m guessing it came out the back end and not the front because it was A) too big and B) in the nest box.

    I guess we can test the ovary theory over time. I’ll watch to see if any of our hens grown beards and start refusing to ask for directions.

  6. I would guess the contents of the gizzard/intestines.

  7. David — It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it doesn’t look like contents; it looks like actual flesh. If it were a portion of the gizzard or intestines, I would expect a very sick chicken, which I don’t seem to have — yet. It’s profoundly strange.

  8. Steven Rudnick says:

    It looks vaguely artistic. Are any of your fowl abstract expressionists? Hey, thanks for your hospitality and great groovy company last week. I had a ball. Alas, you have inspired Mary to raise her own livestock, but I keep telling her that our block is not zoned for wildebeest. Oy.
    The sea salt is delicious; I dissolved some in the bathtub, immersed myself and pretended that I was a mollusk. Delightful!
    Thanks again,
    Steven Rudnick

  9. This has happened in our coop, usually from the older hens. When you pull it apart, it smells like an egg, looks and feels almost like a dough ball, and will have what looks to be hard boiled yolk in it. It is just something that has formed in the hen. I’ve never been able to figure out if it is because they had an infection or if it is just a naturally occuring anomaly from an older hen.

  10. i will give you 10 bucks for it and pay the shipping

    • If it weren’t long gone, I’d take you up on that. Don’t suppose you’ll tell me what it is … ?

  11. Hi there – just saw this on my wanderings through the internet.
    That is what is called a “lash”

    Every so often they shed the lining of the cloaca…. can be in response to an infection or something like that. It happens with older & productive hens (especially ex-battery hens) and more in hybrids than pure breeds (although that’s not to say they don’t produce them). Doesn’t normally cause any problems 🙂

    • Why thank you! I love that I can post a question and it stays out there for all time. It took a year and a half, but now I know. I appreciate it.

  12. Hi Tamar, I was just about to post the following, and then read Amanda’s post which basically says the same thing… I figured I’d post as well anyway:
    I’ve heard this material referred to as a “lash” – a piece of reproductive tissue that has been shed, likely due to infection. In my experience (like Amanda said above), hens that are specifically bred for intensive egg production over a short period of time are more prone to this. I’ve had a number of hens suddenly get this – all the standard little red hybrid hens – and develop tumour-like material (it looks like cooked egg yolk with a pinkish-bloody tinge) throughout their reproductive tracts. It seems to be related to egg peritonitis and infection from bacteria opportunistically growing in the fluid that has been retained. I’ve had some success in using the antibiotic Baytril (enrofloxacin) to treat hens with peritonitis (whose abdomens may become very swollen and fluid-filled). Hope this helps. 🙂

  13. Silvestre says:

    Im sorry to say but its one of your chickens chicks. My chicken did this before. I asked a local farmer and he said so himself that it was a chick that didnt make it