Monday, August 9, 2010

Soft-shelled egg

Occasionally we will get a soft-shelled egg from our chickens.  They are pretty cool.  They are like little water balloon egg capsules.  It is amazing to me that a hen is able to get one of these out intact.  They don't always come out like this, sometimes all I find is a floppy broken shell and egg goo in the nest box.

Soft-shelled eggs happen when the egg-making process inside an hen goes boink and not enough hard calcium deposit is attached to the egg membrane.  It might interest you to know that eggs are made from the inside-out: the yolk gets made first, then the white, then it's surrounded by membrane, and then the hard outer shell is formed.

Some people ask me if hens need a rooster to produce eggs.  Nope.  You need a rooster if you want fertile eggs, if you intend on putting them under a broody hen or in an incubator to hatch baby chicks.  If you don't have a roo you will still get eggs, but they will be infertile.

Owen wanted to throw the egg against a tree to see it explode (like I said, it feels very much like a water balloon).  I wouldn't let him.  I didn't want to waste all the hen's effort.  I could have saved it and used it for cooking, it is perfectly okay as long as the membrane isn't damaged.  But instead I gave it to the outside cats, who appreciated it greatly.


Mama Pea said...

I've often wondered what would happen if you tried to hard boil an egg with no shell. I mean would it turn "solid" just like one does inside the shell?

Erin said...

I always get a chuckle out of the rooster comments, that egg is amazing, I thought for sure they would be squished on its journey out! Nice photo of it!

Leigh said...

I didn't realize eggs were formed from the inside out. One thing I've noticed about those shell-less eggs is that they seem to dry out pretty quickly. I give mine to my kitties too. They don't know the difference and absolutely love raw egg.

Rainsong said...

I have always been told that they come out soft so the hen can pass them then harden on contact with the air (or??). My neighbor used to say that modern hens start getting run down from bagged feed, nearly daily laying and no vermin in their diet (worms and bugs I guess). Soft eggs and blood spots are symptoms of hens that could use some TLC feeding. Calcium would be good but not sure what to give them other than shells....which is sort of gross.

Emily S said...

Yay for bird facts!! I see those eggs every once in awhile at work from our diamond doves.

Rainsong- Eggs are somewhat soft when they come out, but they still have an outer shell. It only take a couple minutes for that shell to harden. :)

Jo said...

Hello Mama Pea -- What a great idea! I must try it next time I get one ...

Hey Erin -- Yeah, sometimes I imagine the equivalent of giving birth every other day or so. I don't think I envy the life of a chicken!

Hi Leigh -- Thanks for the comments, glad to hear your kitties benefit from the boink-egg process too!

Hello Rainsong -- My hens get outside to scrounge for bugs in the yard, so they do get some vermin. Right now I am feeding bagged feed, but as I don't raise my own grains that's the best I can do for now! They get extra calcium in the form of oyster shells. We only get the soft shelled eggs about two or three times a year.

Hey Emily! Yay for birds! It never occurred to me that other birds would get soft shells too, but it seems pretty obvious now. I have come across eggs within a minute of the hen laying them, and the shell is pretty hard. Maybe that's the extra calcium they get??? See you Saturday!