My chickens have only been laying for 2 months, and already I’ve had my share of weird eggs! Odds are you’ve had some weird eggs too, and if not, you most certainly will. Here are some of the most common egg oddities, as well as what they mean and what you may be able to do about them.
Fairy Eggs/Fart Eggs/Yolk-less Eggs
All three of these terms for weird eggs mean the same thing – generally a very small egg, with no yolk. It’s normal for your chickens’ first few eggs to be tiny. It takes their bodies a while to adjust to egg production and normalize the process. Often these first eggs do not contain a yolk, and may not be fully formed. If the shell is intact you can still eat them, although some choose not to. (I know, ‘fart eggs’ sounds awful. Don’t blame me, I didn’t make it up! I will admit that the 12 year old boy in me snickers at it, though.)
Eggs with Attachments
This type of weird egg is a lot more rare. Sometimes eggs come out with an attachment, kind of like an umbilical cord. Our very first egg was like this. It was tiny and missing one part of the shell, where a cord and gel-like blob were attached.
Multicolored and Speckled Eggs
While colored eggs from an Easter Egger chicken are normal, occasionally you might get an egg with multiple shell colors. This is just a normal pigmentation issue, with the most common colors being white/tan/brown. The coloring could fade from one end of the egg to the other, or it may be speckled across the egg. Some people like to say your chicken is running out of toner! In the first photo above you can actually see that the bottom half of the egg is darker than the top half. This doesn’t indicate a problem with your chicken. Her eggs will probably go back to normal the next day, and you can certainly eat these eggs!
We rarely see a double yolk in store-bought eggs, because they won’t sell weird eggs. However, it’s actually a pretty common occurrence. A double-yolk egg is simply that – an egg that has two yolks inside. This happens when your chicken ovulates twice within one day. Mostly you will see this in young hens who have just started to lay, or in older hens who are reaching the end of their laying days. (Most chickens will lay for around 3 years before entering menopause… or is it henopause?)
Our Barred Rock hen, Pepper, just started laying eggs last week (finally). Her fifth egg was this monster:
My mom told me about double-yolk eggs when I was young, and no joke, I’ve spent my entire life hoping to find one. With no luck! (Some people want to be doctors or astronauts; others want to be pig farmers who find double-yolk eggs.) Today we cracked it open, just to share with you here, and to my delight – it was a double yolk!
Double-yolk eggs have some interesting superstitions surrounding them. Some people believe that getting a double-yolk egg is a sign of twins in your near future! On the other hand, Norse mythology says that this weird egg indicates someone in your family will die soon. No matter what you believe, nearly everyone can agree that a double-yolker will make for a pretty awesome deviled egg!
Egg Within An Egg
This very rare weird egg takes the double-yolk egg to another level. Rather than just two yolks, sometimes an egg will contain another entire egg inside! This happens when a hen releases a new egg before the previous egg has left her body. The first egg will backtrack and be absorbed into the second egg, with the second shell forming around both. The result is a HUGE egg that will no doubt leave you feeling sorry for your poor chicken! Both eggs are safe to eat, but be sure you snap a picture first! Here’s a fun video of a one-in-a-million egg:
Rubber Eggs, or Eggs Without A Shell
Our most recent weird egg was a rubber egg, which I found just this morning. Rubber eggs either have just a membrane with no shell at all, or a very thin, soft shell. Though they are usually normal in every other way, I do not recommend eating these. They will not have the bacterial protection that the shell and bloom provide. Our rubber egg only has a membrane. It’s very thin, wrinkled, and squishy, though dry to the touch. I found it under the roosting bar, not in the nest box, so it’s possible that she laid it during the night quite by accident. (Fun homeschooling science project: you can create a rubber egg by soaking a normal egg in vinegar for a few days. The vinegar will eat the shell away, leaving just the membrane. Voila – super cool rubber egg!)
Here’s a great video clip showing an egg with a soft shell, and one with just a membrane:
Of all the weird eggs listed so far, this is the only one that could indicate a problem. Again, it’s common in young chickens who are just starting to lay, in which case it’s not something you should be concerned with. But sometimes an egg is laid without a shell because your chicken is under stress. This can be caused by predator activity, molting (this happens yearly when chickens lose their feathers), excessive heat, new introductions to the flock, etc. Most commonly it indicates that your hens just aren’t getting enough calcium, which they need to create shells. Make sure your chickens have access to crushed oyster shell or another good source of calcium. Oyster shell is surprisingly cheap, and lasts a long time with a small flock.
Other Common Weird Eggs
If you’ve had chickens for very long, you know that there are many kinds of egg oddities that actually happen so often, they’re not even considered strange! One poultry farm worker said that if 50% of your eggs are “perfect”, you’re doing well. These weird eggs include shells with bumps or wrinkles, or pigmentation changes like we talked about earlier. There is nothing actually wrong with these eggs, they can and should be eaten! A white bullseye in your yolk means that it’s been fertilized – these are perfectly good to eat, too. (See my Egg Storage post for a photo of a fertilized egg.) “Meat spots” are little brown specks in your egg from a ruptured blood vessel. It’s very common, and these are also safe to eat.
Eggs in Weird Places
While this is not an issue with the actual eggs, it can be frustrating to find eggs in places other than the nest box! If you suspect that you’re missing eggs, I suggest you go on an egg hunt. Usually the eggs will all be in the same spot – somewhere cozy and private, like in a window well, flower garden, or under a bush. Once you find it, make this area an inhospitable environment. Lay down branches or chicken wire, remove anything that gives the area privacy, and check it often. You should also watch the suspicious chicken and see where she sneaks off to. If you know which chicken it is, you may need to put her on lock down. A few days stuck in the coop with no nice place to lay except the egg box ought to break her of the habit!
Our Rogue Layer
We’ve been dealing with this lately with our Easter Egger, Bijou. At first she was laying eggs in a corner under our deck, but lately I have caught her under our camper! I’ve been watching her to try and learn what triggers her to go to another place. I’ve noticed that she likes a lot of privacy when she lays. If the door to the coop is open, or she is interrupted by another chicken or person, she will leave the nest and find somewhere else to lay. To discourage her, I placed a sheet of chicken wire under the deck where she was laying (this is when she switched to the camper). I check the girls frequently when they’re free-ranging. If Bijou is missing from the group, I find her and move her into the coop, where she will usually then lay an egg with no problem.
With just three hens and only two months of eggs under my belt, I’m sure this is just the beginning of our weird egg experiences! How about you… what’s the weirdest egg you’ve ever found? I’d love to hear your story!