Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Incredible Edible Egg

More chicks are hatching today. It got me thinking about silly questions I'm asked when I'm selling eggs at farmer's markets. Some facts about eggs:

A hen will start laying eggs at 20-25 weeks old.

A rooster isn't required for a hen to lay eggs. A rooster is required if you want fertile eggs. So, city folk that are worried about noisy roosters can have laying hens and still collect fresh eggs.

A hen will consume 3.8 pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs.

It takes 25 hours for a hen to produce one egg.

If a hen doesn't get enough calcium, she will lay soft shelled eggs.

Egg color is determined by breed of chicken. There are over 100 breeds of chickens. Most white eggs bought at the store are from Leghorn crosses, brown grocery store eggs are usually Rhode Island Red crosses.

Hemoglobin produces brown toned eggs, bile produces the blue and green eggs, and no pigment in white eggs.

The healthier the hen, the darker the egg yolk. Yolk color is determined by diet. Our eggs have deep orange yolks because the chickens are fed a high quality feed and are free to forage on pasture. Most grocery store eggs are from caged hens that never go outside, their yolks are pale yellow.

A hen will lay the most eggs during her first and second year of life. As a hen gets older she lays less eggs but they are larger.

Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch in an incubator or by a hen. The temperature is kept at 99.5 and the humidity is increased the last 3 days of incubation. Higher humidity helps the chick pip through the shell membrane.

The stringy piece of material in the egg is not an embryo but a special protein called chalazae which acts as a shock absorber for the yolk so it doesn't break.

I have shipped hatching eggs as far away as California. Some of my eggs were hatched by monks in Utah and now the chickens live at the monastery. Do the hens cackle or chant?

Eggs contain the highest quality protein you can buy. Egg protein has the perfect mix of essential amino acids needed by humans to build tissue. Eggs have thirteen essential vitamins and minerals.

I used to do a type of artwork on eggs called Pysanky. It's a Ukrainian method of waxing and dying eggs. It takes many hours of intricate, tedious work. Here's an egg I worked on at Christmas.

A fresh, boiled egg is almost impossible to peel. That's because the air cell, found at the large end of the shell between the shell membranes, increases in size the longer the raw egg is stored. As the contents of the egg contracts and the air cell enlarges, the shell becomes easier to peel.

For easy to peel boiled eggs, steam them. Place eggs in a steamer basket and steam for 20 min. on high. Even just laid eggs will peel easily.


A hen that's hatching her own eggs will turn them 50 times a day. The incubator turns the eggs every half hour. If not turned to a fresh position frequently during the early stages, the developing embryo touches the shell membrane and sticks to it causing abnormal growth.

A fact I just learned last night while the chicks were hatching. White eggs hatch first, then blue, then light brown and last dark brown. I think it's actually the size of the egg because the white eggs are the smallest.

More than you probably ever wanted to need to know about chickens or eggs.

17 Comments:

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Wylee said...

You know what? I think you would be a great contestant for the game show "who wants to be a millionaire!" You know tons of trivia about eggs, which makes me think you know tons of trivia about other things too, am I right?

 
At 9:42 PM, Blogger nancytoby said...

Ahh, a nice review of Poultry Sci 101! :-)

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Robin said...

AH---interesting. The Rhode Island Red. I am fron RI orginally but now live in MA. So tell me this, when I was small, living in RI, there was this ad campaign with a song that went, "BROWN EGGS ARE LOCAL EGGS AND LOCAL EGGS ARE FRESH". Is that a load of crap or what?

Also--nice artwork. I know these eggs! I am of Polish ancestry and I have eggs like this that are to be displayed at Easter time. I had about 6-7 but I alwyas find one that I have broken somehow in packing process and now I have about 3-4. I am AMAZED that you do this type of artwork and the egg is just BEAUTIFUL! You must be a very patient person. (Except when your completing your run in a triathlon, haha!).

 
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