Weird Things Found In Eggs
How Foreign Objects and Meat Spots in Eggs Happen.
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Weird things found in eggs are generally uncommon, but it does happen. Hens lay weird eggs from time to time, but most of those oddities are external, like malformed and mended eggshells. I previously covered a bunch of those external abnormalities, as well as an entire article on how to tell if eggs are bad. I’ll be switching gears in this article, however, and talking about the bizarre stuff you might find inside an egg.
Weird Things Found In Chicken Eggs
If you’ve had backyard chickens for a while, you’re bound to encounter an egg anomaly or two. Most are benign, some are odd, and some of them may ruin your appetite.
Less Than Wierd
Not all the weird things found in eggs are rare, and some are quite common. As small flock owners, we may not see these every day, but you’re bound to see these things daily when you have a million bird layer operation.
Some anomalies are less about weird things in the egg, but instead, strange things are missing. When young pullets start laying eggs, you may find a “fart” egg or two. A “fart,” “wind,” or “dwarf” egg is just a shell and some albumin, sans the yolk. Pullets sometimes produce one of these eggs when their immature reproductive tract is just beginning to function. Don’t be alarmed; they’ll get the hang of laying a real egg soon.
Blood spots in eggs are quite common and likely the most common internal anomaly seen inside eggs. As egg yolks form in the ovary, the sack the yolk is developed in (known as the follicle) creates a line of separation. The follicle itself has an ample blood supply, and sometimes this line of separation (known as the stigma) crosses a vein. When the follicle breaks at the stigma, blood can be deposited on the yolk as it descends to the infundibulum. That blotch of blood will stay on the yolk through the oviduct and become encased in the shell. Large blood spots are less than appetizing, but the eggs are still safe to eat.
Meat Spots in Eggs
Common enough is the introduction of meat spots in eggs. Sometimes tissue from the follicle or other parts of the oviduct tears as the hen ovulates. This tearing creates pieces of tissue that follow the yolk along its journey. You’ve probably seen these and not known what they were. They’re usually found in the albumin (egg white) and look like small brown specks. Again, large meat spots aren’t appetizing, but cooked eggs with meat spots are perfectly fine to eat.
Now we’re getting into the really weird things found in eggs. When a hen has an exceptionally high parasite load from an intestinal parasite, adult worms can make their way from the cloaca (the last stop of the digestive tract) back into the oviduct. These parasites join the yolk on its journey through the oviduct and become encased in the egg. The most common offenders found inside eggs are intestinal nematodes, followed by cecal worms, oviduct flukes, and tapeworms. If you find eggs from your flock with parasites inside, you can rest assured you have a very high parasite load in your flock, and it’s time to worm your chickens!
A Foreign Experience
Sometimes strange things happen, and you can have exceptionally weird things found in eggs. When a hen lays an egg, her vent is exposed to the environment. Sometimes things in that environment can attach to the moist tissue, and these foreign objects, such as small pebbles, feathers, and other debris in the nest, can make their way back up the oviduct. Antiperistaltic contractions of the oviduct draw up these foreign objects. These objects can travel up far enough for the hen’s reproductive tract to encase it in a shell to expel it from the body.
This phenomenon has been documented as early as the 1600’s when a metal pin was reportedly found in a domestic chicken egg; however, this is a rare situation. If you see this rare phenomenon, your nests are likely in need of a cleanout, or your birds are laying in odd locations.
A Real Odd Ball
In 1997, David S. Lee, a seabird biologist and the curator of birds at the North Carolina State Museum Of Natural Sciences, was brought a Canadian goose egg. The man who brought the egg, a Mr. Richard Badham, found this egg in a nest on a golf course. He noted that this particular egg was the only egg not to hatch from the clutch. To his surprise, Mr. Badham decided to open the shell and found the egg to contain a golf ball. In his brief article, Mr. Lee concluded that the goose drew the golf ball into the nest, thinking it was an errant egg. During the act of laying an actual egg, the ball managed to enter the oviduct, make it’s way up the tract, and exited the bird as an extra-convincing imposter.
What are the odds?
The odds of you finding a golf ball in your chicken’s egg is slim at best, but these other more common situations are possible. If you’d like to avoid opening a less-than-appetizing egg, consider candling your eggs before using them. Additionally, be sure to regularly worm your flock to avoid finding parasites in your eggs, and as always, keep your nests clean!
Have you found foreign objects in your chicken eggs? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published in the June/July 2021 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.