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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wrinkled Eggs

Fresh eggs are a great way to eat healthy. As an egg connoisseur or as a backyard chicken owner, it’s important to understand what your eggs are telling you by their shape, color, texture, and size. These varied and unique qualities can be an indication of the chicken’s age, chicken’s health, chicken’s breed, and the quality of the egg itself. This is the beginning of a series on dozens of egg qualities, so you’ll know what’s going on with your chickens and your eggs; although we still can’t tell you which came first.


Wrinkled Eggs

Wrinkled eggs can make your jaw drop. Some can be shaped normally but look corrugated or wavy all over or sometimes just at the tip. Others might resemble a potato or a fluffed pillow with one flat side and a few wrinkles. 







Watery Albumen

Watery albumen, or egg white, makes it harder for the hen’s reproductive organs to form an eggshell around it. Watery albumen occurs more often during hot weather, in flocks with poor water quality, and in older hens. If you have a young and healthy flock, and just an occasional misshapen egg, you might need to pay more attention to the flock’s water quality and/or its access to shade. This does not indicate that the egg is unsafe for consumption.


Reproductive Mistake

Occasionally a hen’s ovaries will drop two yolks at the same time. If eggshell forms around both yolks together, the hen will lay a single egg with two yolks. Other times, the eggshell forms over each yolk separately, creating two separate eggs in her reproductive system at the same time. This puts pressure on the side of the eggs. Sometimes one egg will look impacted, and sometimes both will. These mistakes are all a matter of timing, and tend to happen when a chicken in just beginning to lay or if she incurs some matter of stress. They are perfectly safe to eat. 


Illness

Infectious Bronchitis is a viral infection that is caused by the coronavirus. Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or rattling. Eyes may become watery, breathing may become difficult, and the eyes or head may swell. Egg production will slow or stop, and wrinkled eggs may be formed for different reasons.

First, the virus makes the albumen water. Second, Infectious Bronchitis damages the reproductive organs in addition to the respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal organs. Although production may resume after the hen has recovered from the illness, it may never return to normal: misshapen eggs or low production will indicate the signs of lesions remaining from the infection.


Copper Deficiency

Copper deficiency has also been studied as a cause of misshapen eggs including abnormalities in size, shape, and egg shell texture. In shape, some eggs from copper deficient hens can appear to have two blunt sides of the egg. In texture, the eggs appeared wrinkled and/or calcified. Other eggs just become shell-less. Egg productivity drops in general. Although the exact purpose of copper is unknown, it has been found to be instrumental in forming the egg shell membrane. Without it, the membrane changes in physical consistency, as well as color and appearance, and changes the way the egg shell is formed over the membrane.

This effect is likely due to poor diet. Poor diet can result from feeding too much hen scratch or other fatty treats instead of formulated feed, or from feed that was not formulated properly. It should take 14-35 days for wrinkled eggs to appear that will indicate the copper deficient diet. 


Resources

Baumgartner, Sherill, D. Jeanette Brown, Edward Salevsky, Jr., and R.M. Leach, Jr. . "Copper Deficiency in the Laying Hen." The Journal of Nutrition. The Journal of Nutrition, n.d. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://jn.nutrition.org/content/108/5/804.full.pdf>.

"Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens." Better Hens and Gardens. WordPress, 01 May 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/2010/05/11/painful-chicken-lesson/>.

Grashorn, Michael A., and Saskia Simonovic. "Wholesome drinking water to prevent watery eggs." WorldPoultry.net: Gateway to the global poultry industry. World Poultry, 01 Feb 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.worldpoultry.net/processing/eggs/table-eggs/wholesome-drinking-water-to-prevent-watery-eggs-7033.html>.

The Merck Veterinary Manual. Tenth Ed. Whitehouse Station: Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., 2011. Web. <http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/206500.htm>.

Thear, Katie. "Problems with Eggs." Broad Leys Publishing Poultry and Smallholding Books. Broad Leys Publishing Ltd., 2005. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.blpbooks.co.uk/articles/egg_problems/egg_problems.php>.

9 comments:

  1. Are there any times when wrinkled eggs are not safe to eat? We have one hen (out of 16) who consistently lays wrinkled eggs this year. Last year her eggs were normal. She looks healthy and is too fast for me to catch her and look closely! I don't know how old she is. She was in the animal shelter and our animal rescue friend brought her to us.

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  2. Hey Terri!

    Wrinkled eggs are always safe to eat... but they may not be as delicious. One of the contributing factors to wrinkled eggs is watery albumen - or watery egg whites - which look and cook just a little funny in the pan. But there are no risks to your health when eating them.

    If your hen is healthy, it's most likely a sign of age. I wouldn't throw her eggs away. They're probably great in a scramble!

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  3. Hello!
    Semi-related question: Do any of your EE lay pink eggs? I think my EE from you guys is laying creamish eggs. Either that, or my newly laying RIR is having different colored shells...

    :D

    Halli

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  4. Hi Halli,

    It is possible your Easter Egger is laying a cream or pink colored egg. Because Easter Eggers are not a recognized breed by the American Poultry Association, there are so many different mixes of them. Most carry the blue egg gene, but some produce eggs with a pink tint. We have a only a few Easter Eggers that lay us a pink egg. They're beautiful!

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  5. I have been searching the Internet trying to find out why our chicken has watery egg whites and this is the best site I have found so far. She does not appear to be sick,but her eggs are huge and have what seems to be water for their whites. They are also a little misshaped with a bump at the top. She was given to us just recently and we are not sure what to do, or if the eggs are good to eat.
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi Michelle - It may just be a sign that she had been sick in the past because the lesions from the illness remain present in her reproductive system. They are still safe to eat.

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  6. I have 10 chickens in my flock and they are all fed an organic layer mash along with free-choice grit and oyster shell. They have "supervised" free-range, plus I grow them forage and collect bugs when conditions don't allow for free-ranging. One of my hens (a Barnevelder), who is in her second season of laying, has been consistently laying very large wrinkled on one end eggs. The yolks and the whites are perfectly normal. She doesn't stay in the nest for long periods of time either.
    I'm concerned that she is going to become egg bound. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I should also add, she isn't exhibiting any other symptons - seems very healthy otherwise. I always have fresh water (we have a chicken nipple system) available and I add ACV to it(2T per gallon). thanks

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  7. Hello, one of my chickens has laid an egg which looks like it has a dried put powdery looking layer over it, it looks horrible. I picked some off and it crumbles between my fingers. Can anyone help with this please, I wish I could upload a picture

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