Most people probably don’t spend much time marveling at how chickens come to be. You know a chicken comes out of an egg, but have you wondered how an egg forms inside a chicken? Have you seen double-yolked eggs, or maybe even triple-yolked eggs, and wondered how that happens?
When a hen first starts laying, usually around six months old (some breeds start earlier and some, later), she’s called a “pullet” and she lays a smallish egg called (you guessed it) a “pullet egg”. These are perfectly edible eggs, but they’re smaller than the ones she’ll lay later, and aren’t really optimal for incubation. Weird things occur when a hen first starts laying – she may, for example, lay soft-shelled, rubbery eggs; eggs with no white or yolk; eggs with no shell; or double-yolked eggs. In addition, sometimes the eggs are strangely shaped: nearly round, oval, lumpy. These anomalies occur because the hen’s internal egg-producing system is working out the kinks.
Pullets also do things like drop an egg where they stand (early on, we found several on the grass or even in mud) or lay while on the roost, causing the egg to smash on the poop board or on the coop floor. It seems like they just may not understand what’s going on. You can almost imagine how it happens: the pullet’s feeling kind of funky, then bam! – an egg comes out – whoa!
Knowing that the chicks we hatched last month will be laying by summer brings up memories of all the unusual egg-related events that happened back in the fall. The first time you see an egg with no shell (looks like someone cracked an egg open and poured out the contents) or an oddly huge egg (usually, a double yolker), you’re concerned – is it normal? After you research it exhaustively, you realize that these are all things that can happen when a pullet starts to lay, and should work themselves out. Whew. We still felt bad for the hens laying the monster eggs, though.
If you’re so inclined, search the web for “how chicken eggs are formed”. Lots of info and – most entertaining – lots of photos of weird eggs! The photos in this post are of our own odd ones: a big double-yolker and a tiny “fart” egg (no yolk – and it’s really called that!). A Partridge Rock laid the double-yolker, and a Cuckoo Marans laid the fart egg.