This article was originally published in The Journal on February 18, 2019.
With weird weather can come weird eggs.
A couple weeks ago we gathered our first “fairy egg” from our flock. I went out one Saturday to check on the chickens, shooed a broody hen off the clutch, and there, among the normal eggs was a miniature, creamy brown, speckled egg.
Oddities like this can really make my day. I took the dainty egg inside, resisted the urge to wake my daughter up from her nap to show her how adorable it was, and started researching the reasons why this little egg was laid.
The formation of an egg takes about 25 hours from start to finish. The reproductive tract is very sensitive to changes in the environment and stress. Stress can cause the hen’s system to speed up or slow down and lead to odd developments.
A fairy egg is a tiny egg with no yolk. Usually stress during ovulation (when the yolk is released from the
ovary) is what creates a fairy egg. This can happen if the albumen (egg white) begins forming before the yolk is released. Then the egg continues to develop the membrane and shell.
Immature hens are more likely to produce odd eggs because their reproductive systems are still developing. They can also be more sensitive to stress.
Stress can be anything from temperature swings to loud noises.
In our case, I think the stress that lead to this fairy egg was caused by a drastic drop in temperature overnight, but it could have been any number of things.
Whatever the reason for this tiny, yolkless egg, it was a fun chance for the whole family to learn more about the development of life and food.
Chick season will be here soon. If you are interested in raising poultry for food or fun, start planning now. To learn more about how to select chickens for your home flock, consult this OSU factsheet “Chicken Breed Selection” by Extension Educators, Sabrina Schirtzinger and Tim McDermott: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-60.