After waiting anxiously all summer, my flock of new hens is just starting to lay their first eggs. And it’s about time, if you ask me! I mean, I’ve only been checking every day for like the last three weeks.
‘Egg anxiety’ is a thing that affects almost all flock owners. Part of the reason for this is just how fast chicks grow. From hatched to big enough to be outside only takes about eight weeks. Unfortunately, most hens will spend another 4 months developing before they’re ready to lay eggs. And their first few eggs won’t be their best.
Young hens that have just started laying, will not lay full sized eggs. Their ‘egg motors’ have just started running and it takes a little while for things to get warmed up. However, as your new chicken grows in age and experience, their eggs will get bigger. So if you’re underwhelmed by what you are gathering from the nesting box, don’t take it to heart. With time, you should see the proper sized eggs.
But what is the proper sized egg?
|Jumbo||30 oz. per dozen|
|Extra Large||27 oz. per dozen|
|Large||24 oz. per dozen|
|Medium||21 oz. per dozen|
|Small||18 oz. per dozen|
|Peewee||15 oz. per dozen|
Using these standards, you should be able to discern whether or not your hen is, in fact, laying the proper size egg for her breed.
For example, the Barred Rock lays an egg that falls into the ‘medium’ category, while the Black Australorp lays eggs that are in the ‘large’ category. This could be difficult to notice as the difference is only 3 ounces – spread across 12 eggs.
### Important Note ###
If, after 6 months of laying, you still feel that your hens are producing eggs too small for their breed, then consider posting a comment on a chicken forum. There are a whole host of variables that can influence egg size. And I can tell you from personal experience, the input/help that I have received for my specific situation, has been absolutely incredible!
How Long Does It Take For Chicken Eggs To Get Bigger?
The problem with starting flocks later in the year really shows itself as daylight hours begin to wane. And the higher the latitude, the more dramatic the issue.
For example, where I live, we have almost 15 hours of daylight during summer’s peak and just under 9 hours for the shortest day of the year. That’s a really big difference and it definitely shows in the nesting box.
For hens that were hatched in early spring, you can expect to see optimum egg size at 7 to 9 months of age (late fall or mid winter). For hens that were hatched later, optimum size for eggs could take as long as 12 months, as the shortage of daylight hours hinders egg development.
So while it may be beneficial to start new chicks in mid-summer, as the outdoor temps are more conducive to raising chicks, you will loose out on egg production, as your hens will start to come in to egg-laying just as the shortage of daylight naturally slows things down.
Can I Eat The First Egg A Chicken Lays?
Just as each chicken has its own unique personality, each hen will have her own experience when it comes to that first egg. I have seen all kinds of deformities from that first week of egg-laying. Shells that were misshaped, shells that weren’t hardened…and don’t even get me started on what goes on inside the shell! Meat spots, blood spots; things that will absolutely haunt you.
Caution is strongly advised when deciding to eat that first egg as the bulk of deformities will occur during the first week of egg-laying. The egg may be viable for consumption and it may not. You really won’t know until you crack it open.
And no matter what the egg looks like, be sure to cook it thoroughly as this will reduce any potential health risks.
### Important Note ###
For us, when starting out with a new flock, we will always use the two bowl method; one bowl to break open the egg and check it, and the second bowl to hold it once it is verified as good. I can tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than pouring a bad egg in with other good eggs that you really wanted to eat.
Even after the flock has been established, we still use a bowl to check the egg. Industrial eggs go through a process called ‘candling’ by which any defects are detected and the egg is discarded. This leaves you with the confidence to simply crack open and egg and pour it in. However, this process works best on shells that are white in color.
The majority of backyard chickens will lay brown shelled eggs, which makes the screening process of candling less effective.
For this reason, it’s good to ‘play it safe’ and check your egg before pouring a bad egg into your mix and having to discard all of the previous ingredients.
What Is A Fart Egg?
This is one of those questions that really makes you both cringe and laugh at the same time. If you’ve never seen one, the name can leave you puzzled. But, once you do see it, you will understand exactly where the name came from.
A fart egg is an egg that is significantly smaller than what the breed of chicken should lay. This random result can, quite often, have unique and undesirable properties.
You may hear other names such as fairy egg, wind egg, rooster egg, dwarf egg and witch egg. But the most common name for this, is fart egg.
What’s unique about fart eggs is that they can be the right shape, but just really small. While other times the egg can be the right circumference but shaped more like a golf ball than an egg.
You can sort of think of the term as all-inclusive designation for eggs that just aren’t quite right.
Can You Eat A Fart Egg?
To answer this question, it’s best to make sure that we’re all clear on things. The question is ‘can you’ and not ‘do you want to’?
The nutritional gain from a fart egg will depend on what is found inside. It is possible that the egg is viable for consumption. However, I would strongly urge caution against doing so.
Ask yourself, are you really that hard up for food that you’re willing to risk health issues from eating something that starts with the word fart? When was the last time you went into a restaurant and saw ‘fart egg’ on the menu? This negative connotation is not completely unwarrented.
Should you feel adventurous and crack a fart egg open to find the ingredients look normal, then the choice to eat it is up to you. However, please, PLEASE make sure that you cook it thoroughly – as in no runny parts. A lot of potential problems can be avoided when eggs have been cooked all the way through.