There was a time when an egg was nothing spectacular to me. It was just a thing that you couldn’t toss around like a football. It wasn’t supposed to sit on a wall lest it have a great fall. It came from a chicken, magically it seemed. Just a squawk and suddenly we have an egg whilst the chicken beamed. This brings me to the age old conundrum of what came first the egg or the chicken? Regardless, both are here now, and an egg can grow up to be anything it wants, especially chow. It won’t ever hatch into a chicken unless there is a rooster in the pen. Otherwise it can be scrambled,poached , boiled, or fried. It can be devillish and at Easter, dyed. This doesn’t even touch the amount of cakes and goodies they make happen. Eggs are King Bacon’s queen in the Kingdom of Breakfast. Eggs, my friends, are pretty amazing, if you ask me, but how do they come to be?
An egg is all a part of a chicken’s reproductive cycle. A female chicken is born with as many follicles or ova as she will ever have in her life. The ova will turn into the yolks of an egg as the hen matures. As you can see in the picture below, there are larger and smaller ova. The larger ones, are the ova that are the most ready to turn into an egg.
In each of these sections, different parts of the egg develop. It isn’t just the shell, whites, and yolk.
It typically takes 25 hours for an egg to develop and be laid. Light and feed do affect the amount of eggs laid by a hen. The genetics and breed of a hen determine the color of the egg shell. It has something to do with the amount of proteins put in the shell. Chickens naturally lay shades of white, brown, and green/blue eggs.
Most times the ears of a chicken can tell you what color eggs they will lay. Red ears are indicators of brown eggs and white ears mean white eggs. Pretty handy, huh?
Their genetics and breed also affect the size of the eggs. It is also interesting to note that when a hen first starts laying eggs, weird things can happen. Sometimes, they are extra tiny eggs or the shell may not develop fully. After a few weeks they get into the swing of things, though.
Is there a chick in there?
Any egg you buy from the store will not be fertilized. Those hens are not exposed to roosters at all. Local farms may have a rooster with their hens, but a chick will not develop unless they have been left out in certain temperature. If you have ever seen something in the yolk that you thought was an embryo, you are probably seeing a meat spot or blood spot.
It is just a malfunction on the hen’s part. Most likely a blood vessel burst, and the egg was involved. It is completely fine to eat, it just might not be as pretty when you crack the egg open.
A hen is not perfect and neither are her eggs. You may be used to eggs looking the exact same if you buy them from the store, but they look the same, because they have been candled (a light shone through them to detect imperfections like meat spots). They go through a rigorous grading procedure. These imperfections do not make the egg bad to eat, it just makes them not uniform. Store eggs are uniform, because that is what the standard is. An egg may be rejected to go to a store, because it is too big, has bumps on it, has a meat spot, or is not the right shape. If an egg is too long or too big, it won’t fit in the cartons correctly and will be more likely to break. So, shape matters, and odd shapes will not go to the store. Sometimes eggs get little bumps on them. These are calcium deposits. Again, it doesn’t affect the quality of the egg, just the uniformity. Double yolk eggs are also rare in a store, because eggs are candled, and these are considered abnormal. Double yolks happen when two ova drop down and get enveloped by the shell simultaneously. A final blooper that can occur in egg development is a ridge. Eggs can break inside the hen. When this happens, the chicken repairs the egg before it is laid. This causes a ridge in the shell. Bloopers happen. You just probably won’t see them in a store.
And that my friends, is the story of the egg. They are as unique as you and I, and are quite the spectacle. I hope you will share the story of the egg with all as you color Easter eggs this weekend!
And you and eggs lived happily ever after.