There are many factors that go into what kind of egg a hen lays – what color their earlobes are, how old they are and even how much stress they’re being put through.
Just like a snowflake, every egg a hen lays is different: from size and color, to shape and texture, no chicken will ever lay the exact same egg.
Let’s learn a little more about the most incredible and nutritious protein source out there, and how variation just proves how incredible they really are:
The color of an egg depends on the strain of the hen that lays it, and specifically, the color of the earlobe of that certain hen. Three common layers for Vital Farms are Rhode Island Reds (brown shelled eggs), Amberlinks (white shelled eggs) and Ameraucanas (blue shelled eggs).
Smaller eggs are a sign of a hen beginning her laying cycle and lasts only a few months. Larger eggs are laid by older hens, but they are also laid less frequently. But don’t worry! Even those big eggs caused the hen no pain – a hen will not develop an egg to a size that she cannot lay.
But a few other factors can result in an adult hen laying small eggs like: low protein levels in feed, a hen that wasn’t properly fed as a chick/pullet which resulted in a smaller bone structure, and just about how much food that the hen actually eats. (Good thing our girls are always eating lots of grasses and bugs, and getting the proper amount of protein and amino acids to lay those beautiful eggs that we get to enjoy.)
Misshapen eggs occur in only about 2% of eggs laid, so be sure to revel in it’s awkward beauty when you find one! (Unfortunately we’re not able to package misshapen eggs due to certain USDA standards.) These eggs are usually the result of an old or young hen, or one that experienced double ovulation.
A soft-shelled egg is an egg without a shell at all – just the membrane underneath. Soft-shelled eggs usually occur with brand new layers but once their reproductive systems develop, you’ll most likely not see any more soft-shells. Harder shells are an indicator of a good diet. If a chicken isn’t producing eggs with a thick enough shell, famers can feed them oyster shells or even their own egg shells to get extra calcium in their system.
Another occasionally occurring egg that young hens lay before their reproductive systems are fully developed are called fairy eggs (or witch eggs, fart eggs, wind eggs, but “fairy eggs” has a nice ring to it). These are tiny yolkless eggs that can be seen as a “hiccup” in the hen’s laying schedule. While rare, these eggs can occur if the hen had a bit of a scare!
Big, small, long, short, round, brown, white, blue, green and everything in between – laying hens are a wonderful breed, and their eggs are a remarkable daily endeavor to supply us with the most nutritious and delicious source of protein out there!