Category Archives: Everything Eggs

Lesson 364 – A rather strange egg

Yesterday Addy came in with a strange egg.

Strange eggs are not really that unusual. When you have 31 laying hens, there is bound to be an odd one in there every now and then. We’ve had two shell-less eggs, a fart egg, speckled eggs, and eggs with large calcium lumps on them. All are considered to be normal (if it only happens once in awhile) in the life of a laying hen. Hey, when you are laying an egg roughly every other day, defects are bound to happen.

It’s important to keep an eye on your hens’ eggs though. Too many calcium deposits might mean that there is too much calcium in the diet, it’s time to cut back. Weak shells? If you get them more than just occasionally you’d probably want to add more calcium (we use oyster shell.) Speckled eggs? Enjoy their diversity.

But this one was different.

“Mom, you’ve got to see this egg,” said Addy coming up the stairs. She showed me the egg she had just collected from the henhouse. It didn’t look all that strange, sure it was a bit larger than others but not significantly so. Addy then turned the egg sideways.

Ah, that’s what was so strange about it. It was completely flat on one side. Not only was it flat but it looked like the bottom of the egg was puckered, like someone had stitched the bottom on. It was a large misshaped egg and in some ways, was very cool looking.

Kind of looks normal from this angle

This is the puckered bottom

Head on view, see that flat side and all those lumps?

Here’s a quick little anatomy lesson. Chickens have a large ovary from which an egg (just the yolk) is released roughly once every 18 hours. As the yolk travels through the long and twisty oviduct (it sort of looks like a small intestine the way is bends around) the albumen or white of the egg is added. As the egg travels further, the calcium rich shell is then added right before it leaves the hen through the cloaca.

When an egg has something wrong with it, depending on what is wrong, you can figure out where the error occurred. For example, if there are two yolks, that means that either two eggs were released from the ovary at the same time or one yolk was released and it didn’t travel far before another yolk was released.

If there are problems with the shell, you know that something in the roughly last fourth of the oviduct went wrong.

In this case, I’m not sure that anything actually went wrong. The coating was complete, it’s just that for whatever reason, when the shell was applied, it created a flat side. Not dangerous to the bird but certainly interesting enough for a young girl to bring it up to her mother’s office for a look-see.

As the shell was intact and appeared to be strong (it didn’t crush when I applied direct pressure) I’ve chalked it up to “one of those things.” A flat egg is not cause for alarm but it certainly does mean that we’ll be monitoring the egg situation a little closer for the next few days.


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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Eggs, Everything Eggs, Home Remedies, New Hampshire, Project Chickens before the Eggs

Lesson 362 – A rooster’s butt-bling

You know that deep feeling of dread you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach. That “oh no, here it comes” sensation when you start feeling the wheels leaving the road – that the older you get, the more you pay attention to?

Whelp, I’ve got it big time, right now.

In looking through the photos yesterday, this one in particular jumped out at me.

I flagged it and every now and then I’d go back to it. Could it be? Nah, there’s no way, these chicks are only 2 weeks old, there is no.way. it can be what I think it might be.

But then in one of those great co-incidences of the Universe, Spencer came up to my office yesterday and said “Mom, I hate to break this to you but I think at least 3 of the chicks are roosters.”

Apparently he had noticed that when he put his hand in with the chicks 3 of them would essentially attack him. He said that he also noticed that they had those “things” (combs aka wads of chewing gum) starting on the top of their heads.

Hmmm, I said as I turned to my computer. Was this one of the chicks?

Spencer looked carefully at the photo. “Yup, that’s her, er, I guess now it’s him.”

Now that we are experienced chicken owners, I can tell you that those large feet on that chick? Not a good sign and that little tuft of feathers in the back is probably not butt-bling. It is most probably (but I’ll still give her the benefit of the doubt until we’re absolutely sure) the beginnings of a beautiful tail.

And I know the chick’s tail will be beautiful because I had seen the Dad: Rocky Road.

The farm where I had gotten the fertilized eggs had said they will take back all roosters so I’m not worried about the nuisance a rooster might (will) cause to our neighbors, but I also know that all extra roosters are donated to the local food pantry around the holidays.

And while that’s a noble and on some level very ethical thing to do and I understand that it’s the right thing to do, I still don’t have to like it.


Tomorrow the littlest one gets her name – you’re going to like it.

(and she better not be a rooster)


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Chick Photos, chicken care, Eggs, Everything Eggs, Life Lessons, Roosters

Lesson 361 – my what big little feathers you have

The growth of these chicks is simply amazing.

What a big chick

Coming up on their 2 week birthday you can see that many have lost much (but not all) of their baby down and have replaced it with the feathers they’ll need to keep them warm.

Two days ago I turned off the heating lamp in their nursery. Each day after they’re born you’re supposed to raise it a bit higher as the chicks grow feathers which keep them warm. Ah, but then we had the littlest one whom I would always find directly under the light taking her naps, concerned about her welfare I kept the light going a little longer, a little closer than I normally would have.

This week we’re expecting the heat wave that has socked the mid-west, you can bet that no heating element will be on in the chick’s crate. We’ll be covering windows and keeping a fan on to circulate the room air as best we can.

Now to the down-side of baby chicks, as all moms know with growth comes poor table manners and prolific poop. Little chicks make little poops, big chicks make bigger and stinkier poop. Our downstairs is starting once again to smell like a barn (we change the bedding every other day). Not only is there more poop but they tip over the water (soaking the poop infested wood chips) and they spread their feed all over that soaking mess. Old McDonald had nothing on our house.

The results is well, rather odoriferous. We’ll not be having many dinner parties until these chicks move outdoors which if they keep at this rate should be in about 3 more weeks. I can last for 3 more weeks, I can last, I can.

Except for the littlest one – see her in the middle there? She STILL hasn’t sprouted one feather and has retained all of her baby down. Although we’re in the summer months (weeks) of New Hampshire, if she doesn’t have her feathers by the third week of August, she won’t be able to spend the nights in the hen house, it would be too cold for her.

Marc is still trying to deal with the fact that we now have a bunny on top of the dogs and chickens (and kids) – I don’t think I want to even mention the fact that there is a possibility we may be having an indoor chicken this coming winter.


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Chick Photos, chicken care, Eggs, Everything Eggs, Life Lessons

Lesson 360 – One of the reasons we have chicks

One of the best things about babies and children is how you can make good use of them. You get to dress them up as mini super heroes around Halloween (and even after if the outfit still fits), you get to dress them in clothes that support your favorite team, and you get to pose them near some of the best props ever.

Don’t think I haven’t taken full advantage of this, in fact, I sometimes wonder if the reason I ended up having 6 kids was because the little ones were always aging out.

Here are some prime examples:

Emma is our little Christmas baby born on December 20th. Do you really think that I wasn’t going to get this shot?

Or a photo for posterity of one little guy’s absolute glee at the fact it’s his birthday today? (complete with birthday crown?!!!) Continue reading

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Lesson 357 – As rare as a hen’s tooth

You know that expression “rare as hen’s teeth?” It turns out that hen’s teeth are not really that rare.

Every single chick is born with one very important “tooth” it’s called the egg tooth and is located on the end of their tiny beaks. The egg tooth is actually a hard sharp calcium growth that allows them to first break into the air sac of the egg so that the chick can begin breathing air and then allows the chick to break through the hard egg shell eventually releasing them to the outside.

All chicks must have an egg tooth in order to be born. You can see the very sharp egg tooth here in one of our chicks who cracked herself out of her egg the old fashioned way.

see that egg tooth?

(If you click on the photo you can see a close up of the tooth.)

In a few days, the egg tooth – no longer needed – falls off (impossible to find, I’ve tried) and that’s that, no more teeth for the chickens. It’s a rite of passage, the first lost tooth of childhood, they all do it.

Except for our littlest one. One thing I noticed after she was born was that the egg tooth was either missing or hadn’t fully developed. There was no way that that little baby was ever going to get out of her egg without assistance.

She made it to the interior air sac of the egg (which is why we were able to hear her peeping) but couldn’t go any further. Although to be honest, let’s face it, she was very underdeveloped and probably wouldn’t have had the strength to chip herself out of an egg even if she had the tooth.

Which raises all sorts of ethical questions. Continue reading

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Lesson 353 – the little chick who can

Normally I put up an inspirational post on Friday’s, just a little something on which to ponder.

This week instead, I’m putting up an inspirational story that won’t keep until Monday.

Yesterday when my friend arrived to pick up the incubator, there was still that one remaining egg that hadn’t hatched. There are a million things that can go wrong with eggs, the chick can become disoriented and attempt to hatch from the wrong end (fatal), the chick can just stop developing (fatal) or the chick could have had a catastrophic development issue non-compatible with life (extremely fatal).

Being the micro-biologist/scientist that I am, I was very interested in seeing if we could determine a cause of death for this one lone egg. It’s part of life, at times I can be very rational, I can deal with it. I went in the house to get the tweezers and scissors while my friend examined the egg.

You’re not going to believe this, he told me as I came out onto the porch, it’s peeping.

Sure enough, if you held the egg up to your ear you could hear it peep from deep inside.

What? It’s alive???? Forget being rational, all my mama hormones flew into full gear.

What to do now? The chick was clearly alive but was also in distress. For some reason, although it made it to the air sac and was breathing (hence the peeping) it couldn’t go any further. Continue reading


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Before and after beauty shots

Before and After beauty make-over shots.



Isn’t she gorgeous?


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Required Chick Literature

A must read for every young chick.

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Lesson 351 – First out of the gate

And this is what we did during our summer vacation:

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The baby’s coming – update 2 on the incubated eggs

Another egg has cracked a tiny hole open! This is the egg that was my personal favorite during the incubation, every time I candled the eggs, it was this one that was the most active and was always the easiest to see. A wiggle there, a roll-over and a bump. I don’t know if chickens can have ADD but if they can, this one is definitely on the fast track.

Little story: when I was pregnant with Trevor he was such an active baby that sometimes I’d be walking across the room and have to stop doubled over, not able to breath from another one of his strong kicks to my insides.

Are you okay? Anyone who saw me would ask.

“I’m fine”, I’d reply “it’s just the baby kicking.”

Apparently I said this a lot.

When Trevor was finally born, we brought him home from the hospital to introduce him to his brothers.

Here’s your new little brother; Baby Trevor, I told them.

Griffin clearly confused turned to me “But where’s Baby Kicking?” he wanted to know.


Hooray for Chick Kicking! It looks like (s)he is doing just fine).

Can't lift the lid for a good photo but trust me, there's an air hole here.

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