November 23, 2014

Egg Yolks, Egg White and Egg Shell Problems and Variations

If your birds are happy and healthy then you should have very little problems and they will deliver perfect eggs day after day. However as a chicken keeper there are several variations that you should be aware of and recognise .

Most of these variations in eggs are nothing to worry about, however some may mean that your birds are missing some essential nutrients or are suffering from parasites or other health issues and need to be treated accordingly.

 

Pale Egg Yolks

It is natural for yolks to become paler when the grass and other greenery such as clover is not growing. Consumers are known to prefer deeper coloured yolks and tend to have the erroneous perception that such eggs show that the birds have had a  more, free-range and natural life. Unfortunately battery egg producers often give their birds feed that contains artificial colouring agents to make the yolks a deeper colour. However pale yolks can also be a sign of ill-health.

 

Greenish Yolk Colour

Occasionally free range chickens will produce eggs with green yolks, this occurs most frequently in the spring when plants are most succulent . The problem should be rectified by reducing the amount of greens in the bird’s diet and increasing the amount of compound feed.

 

Double Egg Yolks  Double egg yolks or double yolkers are a rare treat if you like egg yolks. It is estimated that there is only a 1 in a 1000 chance of finding a double yolk egg in commercial eggs.

 

Wind egg

This is a small egg with no yolk and it is fairly common when a pullet is first coming into lay. It is not important and can be ignored, unless the pullet continues to lay such eggs. Wind eggs can also occur in older hens if they are subjected to a sudden shock.

 

Egg with blood  spots inside the yolk

These are small red to reddish-brown spots found in or around the yolk. They are usually caused by one of the tiny blood vessels in the ovary breaking at the time when the yolk is released. Often people mistakenly think they indicate a fertile egg and it is the start of a chick forming. Stress or a lot of disturbance, particularly at the time of ovulation is likely to increase the incidence of these blood spots. Because free range hens can usually eat grass which contains a substance called rutin, which helps stop bleeding, free range hens eggs tend to have less blood spots than those from caged or battery kept birds.

 

Egg with blood (meat spots) spots inside the white

These are usually a more browner colour than blood spots in yolks and consist of  small pieces of body tissue, such as the internal wall of the oviduct. This often occurs in older birds or again as a result of stress. However there is some evidence that there is a hereditary tendency to this condition, so it may be advisable to avoid breeding from such a hen.

 

Egg with blood on the shell

This is often the result of straining on the part of the hen especially where large eggs are involved. It may also be more prevalent in a pullet first coming into lay. If the shells have small spots of blood on them, rather than streaks, then this could be a sign that you have a red mite problem and you need to take appropriate action quickly.

 

Dark egg shells becoming pale

Shells that are normally dark brown may become lighter for a number of reasons, including stress, illness or lack of the correct food. The main reason, however, is the hen being exposed to strong sunlight on her back for long periods. To avoid this always ensure that the birds have enough shaded areas.

 

Dirty eggs

Nest box material needs to be checked frequently and soiled material removed. Also ensure that eggs are collected frequently. You should also check the bird’s vent to ensure that there is no mess around this area, which could indicate a health problem.

 

Watery Whites or Albumen

Although eggs are usually safe to eat for around 28 days as long as they are kept in a cool environment, they do start to deteriorate from the day that they are laid. Newer eggs have firm whites that hold their shape and poor quality whites usually indicates that the egg is getting to the end of, or is passed its shelf  life. However some newly laid eggs from older birds may also have poor quality whites. In addition in younger birds it can be an indication that the bird is suffering from a viral condition.

 

Middle-banded egg

A sudden shock can cause a temporary interruption in the egg-formation system. If there is an egg being formed at the time of the shock, it may end up with an extra band or ridge around it. This is normally nothing to worry about, as long as the flock is not subjected to regular trauma.

 

Misshapen eggs

These differ from middle-banded eggs in having a range of distortions, including soft ends and uneven or ribbed surfaces. Thin patches or excessively chalky areas may also be seen. Misshapen eggs are more common with older hens, but may also indicate a disease such as Infectious bronchitis or Egg drop syndrome. If the condition persists, you should seek professional advice.

 

Bubbles in the Egg White

Eggs normally have an air space at the blunt end and the shell is permeable to the air to allow oxygen in to the developing chick. However if the inner membrane is damaged the result can be bubbles in the egg white.

 

Rotten Eggs

Usually the shell membranes that lie just under the shell protect the egg from microbial and fungal infection. If this layer is damaged or malformed and infections get into the egg, rot in patches or throughout will occur. This is usually accompanied  by a pungent smell.