Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Grocery stores only carry smooth uniform eggs most of the time, so this is what customers see, but backyard flock owners get to discover all kinds of curiosities in the laying box - eggs of unusual shape, size and texture. These glitches in the chicken reproductive system are especially common in young pullets and older hens and are usually benign. Let's get into some specifics of the surprises your chickens may leave for you:
Tiny eggs - these 'oopsie eggs' are just a fraction of a size of a full-grown egg and normally contain no yolks. Usually they only turn up once in a while and are nothing to worry about, despite the various superstitions surrounding them in folklore (they are also known as "witch eggs").
Shell-less eggs - weak shells or soft eggs that feel almost as if they are made of rubber can be an indicator of not enough calcium in your chickens' diet. We don't often see those, as the land and water in our area are very mineral-rich, but they do turn up once in a while. Adding crushed eggshells to the chicken feed is helpful in replenishing calcium stores.
Uneven eggs - eggs covered with all sorts of bumps, spots, various irregularities, or misshapen eggs can just be something that happens to older hens or very flighty hens (I expect those forming eggs get all shaken up in there!) No reason to worry and not much you can do about it.
Double yolks - double-yolk eggs come up sporadically and are usually extra large. It's a cool surprise in your daily egg collection routine, but I always feel sorry for the poor hen.
Twin eggs - when two eggs don't quite separate inside the chicken's reproductive tract, you get this sort of "siamese twins" (as you can see in the photo); two eggs that are stuck together. Naturally, there will be two yolks.
Blood or meat spots in eggs - this is something you don't notice until you crack the egg open. A red spot inside an egg is unsightly, but if the egg is fresh, you have no reason to worry - just pick it out carefully and use the egg as you normally would. Red spots also depend on breed and weight - heavy hens and layers of brown eggs are especially prone to them.
Remember, while using curiously shaped eggs for food is just fine, only choose normal, uniform eggs for hatching to increase your success rates. If a hen is prone to laying misshapen eggs, you might want not to choose her regular-looking eggs for hatching either, as these traits tend to be hereditary.
Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Amazon.com Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.