Fresh eggs are a great way to eat healthy. As an egg connoisseur or as a backyard chicken owner, it’s important to understand what your eggs are telling you by their shape, color, texture, and size. These varied and unique qualities can be an indication of the chicken’s age, chicken’s health, chicken’s breed, and the quality of the egg itself. This is the beginning of a series on dozens of egg qualities, so you’ll know what’s going on with your chickens and your eggs; although we still can’t tell you which came first.
Wrinkled eggs can make your jaw drop. Some can be shaped normally but look corrugated or wavy all over or sometimes just at the tip. Others might resemble a potato or a fluffed pillow with one flat side and a few wrinkles.
Watery albumen, or egg white, makes it harder for the hen’s reproductive organs to form an eggshell around it. Watery albumen occurs more often during hot weather, in flocks with poor water quality, and in older hens. If you have a young and healthy flock, and just an occasional misshapen egg, you might need to pay more attention to the flock’s water quality and/or its access to shade. This does not indicate that the egg is unsafe for consumption.
Occasionally a hen’s ovaries will drop two yolks at the same time. If eggshell forms around both yolks together, the hen will lay a single egg with two yolks. Other times, the eggshell forms over each yolk separately, creating two separate eggs in her reproductive system at the same time. This puts pressure on the side of the eggs. Sometimes one egg will look impacted, and sometimes both will. These mistakes are all a matter of timing, and tend to happen when a chicken in just beginning to lay or if she incurs some matter of stress. They are perfectly safe to eat.
Infectious Bronchitis is a viral infection that is caused by the coronavirus. Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or rattling. Eyes may become watery, breathing may become difficult, and the eyes or head may swell. Egg production will slow or stop, and wrinkled eggs may be formed for different reasons.
First, the virus makes the albumen water. Second, Infectious Bronchitis damages the reproductive organs in addition to the respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal organs. Although production may resume after the hen has recovered from the illness, it may never return to normal: misshapen eggs or low production will indicate the signs of lesions remaining from the infection.
Copper deficiency has also been studied as a cause of misshapen eggs including abnormalities in size, shape, and egg shell texture. In shape, some eggs from copper deficient hens can appear to have two blunt sides of the egg. In texture, the eggs appeared wrinkled and/or calcified. Other eggs just become shell-less. Egg productivity drops in general. Although the exact purpose of copper is unknown, it has been found to be instrumental in forming the egg shell membrane. Without it, the membrane changes in physical consistency, as well as color and appearance, and changes the way the egg shell is formed over the membrane.
This effect is likely due to poor diet. Poor diet can result from feeding too much hen scratch or other fatty treats instead of formulated feed, or from feed that was not formulated properly. It should take 14-35 days for wrinkled eggs to appear that will indicate the copper deficient diet.
Baumgartner, Sherill, D. Jeanette Brown, Edward Salevsky, Jr., and R.M. Leach, Jr. . “Copper Deficiency in the Laying Hen.” The Journal of Nutrition. The Journal of Nutrition, n.d. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://jn.nutrition.org/content/108/5/804.full.pdf>.
“Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens.” Better Hens and Gardens. WordPress, 01 May 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/2010/05/11/painful-chicken-lesson/>.
Grashorn, Michael A., and Saskia Simonovic. “Wholesome drinking water to prevent watery eggs.” WorldPoultry.net: Gateway to the global poultry industry. World Poultry, 01 Feb 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.worldpoultry.net/processing/eggs/table-eggs/wholesome-drinking-water-to-prevent-watery-eggs-7033.html>.
The Merck Veterinary Manual. Tenth Ed. Whitehouse Station: Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., 2011. Web. <http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/206500.htm>.
Thear, Katie. “Problems with Eggs.” Broad Leys Publishing Poultry and Smallholding Books. Broad Leys Publishing Ltd., 2005. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.blpbooks.co.uk/articles/egg_problems/egg_problems.php>.