Fluke Eggs and What They Mean
Is there anything sweeter than a brown, freckled egg? It's actually a calcium deficiency! There are a lot of funny things that can happen to eggs during the process of making them, and you may walk out into the coop one day and notice that one of your eggs looks a bit unusual. This is perfectly normal and can be easily corrected or needs no attention at all. While young hens are going through their first months laying, they may produce a few "oops" eggs that are just based on age!
KNOWING YOUR HENS
If you are a backyard chicken keeper, most likely you don't have more than 10 hens living in your coop. For most cities, they only allow up to 6 hens, which means you have a great chance of getting to learn which hens are laying and which are not. Did you know that a hen's egg coloring and shape is individual to her? How amazing is that? Each breed lays a similar colored egg (brown, white, blue, and green), but the shade of the eggs and the shape can differ depending on who laid it. Try catching your hens in the act of laying, or seeing who is the in the box with which egg. This is pretty easy to do: listen for the egg laying song! You can hear what that sounds like in this video. This is what we heard while we were inside canning that one wonderful day our first backyard flock laid and listened to every day afterwards at around 10 AM and 1 PM. Knowing whose egg is whose is a good way to make sure everyone is laying consistently. A healthy chicken lays eggs on a regular basis (every 26 hours)!
BROWN VS WHITE EGGS
All eggs are equal on the inside. They are all made of the same stuff and while no two eggs are the same, a brown egg is just as healthy for you as a white egg, or green or blue. I feel like most often now brown eggs are prized over white ones, which was the opposite only a handful of years ago. There is absolutely no difference. The only difference that can happen to the inside of an egg is based upon how the chicken who laid it was raised. When you have your own hens, you will notice that the yolks are much richer and darker in color than those purchased at the grocery store. The eggs from the grocery store are pale yellow and watery; they lack the good nutrients that a pasture raised hen has. Eggs from backyard hens are healthier and much better tasting.
EGG DEFICIENCIES + PROBLEMS
Sometimes an egg comes out looking a little odd! This could be the result of a nutritional deficiency, infection in the hen, or simply the age. Below are some common egg mistakes that can happen!
White Banded Egg. The egg is covered in a white calcification and has a small area where a brown spot shows up. This happens when two eggs make contact with each other during the egg making process (twins!). The first egg will receive an extra layer of calcium, which is the white banded marking. Adding an artificial light in the coop can cause this to happen as well as bronchitis or stress in the flock.
Blood on the Egg Shell. Sometimes this is an excessive amount of blood or a small streak on the shell. This can be caused by ruptured blood vessels in the vent, vent pecking, or a mite/lice infestation near the vent.
Broken and Mended Egg. The egg's shell was cracked during the calcification process and repaired itself before being laid, resulting in the appearance of a covered crack in the shell. This can be caused by a stress or fright during the time the hen is making the egg or the hen's age.
Misshapen Eggs. They may be too small or large, lumpy or ovular. These eggs are perfectly fine to eat; they are usually laid by a young hen with immature shell glands. If your hens are older, then it could be a cause for concern with defective shell glands, bronchitis, or stress.
Calcium Deposits. The shells have white, irregular shaped spots all over them. They are raised and bumpy to the touch. This can be from defective/immature shell glands, stress during the calcification process, or too much calcium in the hen's diet. Keep an eye out if this keeps happening and take away the oyster shells for a few days!
Lack of Pigment. This one can be kind of shocking to find! A brown egg layer lays a white egg. This can happen from poor nutrition (give your hens a magnesium supplement), a viral infection, parasites, medications, the hen's age (older layer), stress, and overexposure to light.
Speckled/Freckled Egg. These are so cute, but mean that the chicken is getting too much calcium in their diet. It can also be an indicator of stress among the flock.
Rubber Egg. So weird and cool at the same time! A rubber egg is a shell-less egg that has a yolk, albumen, and membrane, but no shell. The contents are protected by the outer membrane. Pullets, or young hens, often lay these because of their immature shell glands. It can also be from a nutritional deficiency (not enough calcium), Newcastle disease, parasites, stress, laying while molting, and exposure to mold/fungi/bacteria.
Wrinkled Egg/Corrugated Shell. These eggs have tiny wrinkles on the shell or a plumping of the shell and soft wrinkling. This is caused by stress during calcification, defective shell glands, too large of an egg being passed, double/multi yolks, Newcastle disease, excessive medications/antibiotics, copper deficiency, excessive calcium, or can be hereditary.
Yolk-less egg. This is also known as a fart egg, fairy egg, witch egg, rooster egg, or "oops" egg. They are extremely tiny, about the size of a quarter, and are darker than normal in color. They may or may not have a yolk, it's mostly based around the small size. These are laid by young pullets, or it can be a sign that there was an irregular piece of reproductive tissue in the hen's oviduct.
Soft Shell Eggs. These eggs have an incomplete shell, it's opaque and malleable, but not like a rubber egg. The causes are similar to rubber eggs, though. Be careful to not break either of these while inside of the coop. Such a mess!
Do not be upset or worried if your hen happens to lay a fluke egg one day. This can just happen! For instance, you may be offering your flock all kinds of supplements, yet they still have an oops moment. As much as I’d love to say you can control what a chicken eats - you can’t sit there and make her eat the oyster shells! If you do come upon a fluke egg, keep tabs on it. Watch and see if it happens again. Chances are, if you are raising happy and healthy hens, it will be a one-time thing that happens every now and then. We often come across at least one or two flukes a month with over 30 hens. These are often freckled eggs, fairy eggs, rubber eggs, and blood on the shell. The most important job you have as a chicken owner is to be aware of common issues that could arise and try to prevent them from happening!
Have you ever come across a fluke egg in the nesting box?