we’re getting into the groove of getting gifts from The Girls, making eggnog pots de creme, learning how to make the perfect hard boiled fresh egg and generally enjoying the benefits of a few hours of light on egg production.
other than the occasional “double yolker” we didn’t imagine The Girls could throw us any surprises, that is, until we discovered this shell-less egg in the coop. a quick internet search confirmed that it’s not unusual for young hens ( pullets ) to lay shell-less eggs ( mark frauenfelder at the venerable site boing boing shot video of shell-less egg one his chickens laid ), so we’re fairly confident that The Very Unusual Egg is not the result of a systemic nutrient deficiency. if we keep finding them in the coop then we’ll investigate further.
we found the egg amongst the manure that collects in the coop under the roost and not in a nesting box ( another clue that it was produced by a Girl just getting used to laying since a regular layer will find her way to the box and not plop it out while perched on a roost ), so it was certainly not fit for consumption.
but inquiring minds wanted to know if the shell-less egg was like a regular egg in terms of yolk and white qualities, so we put under the knife for further investigation.
there’s no mistaking the egg for a thin-shelled egg. there’s absolutely no calcification at all. the entire coating consisted solely of the membrane that normally resides between the shell and the egg yolk and whites. it’s hard to say for sure, but the membrane seemed to a bit thicker than you might otherwise expect, but it was easily punctured with a knife.
a nice normal-looking, firm, orange yolk was hiding inside. the whites, though, seemed much more viscous and attached to the yolk and membrane which had the effect of keeping everything all bundled together. i doubt it would have made for an award winning presentation on a plate over easy.
so there you have it, our first and possibly ( hopefully ) last shell-less egg. i’ve taken an informal poll of folks who have backyard chickens and none have seen one completely lacking a shell, although most have heard of or seen thin-shelled eggs from pullets or hens that aren’t gettign enough calcium in their diet.
if anyone finds a reference for how common often shell-less eggs are laid ( 1 in 100? 1 in 1.000? 1 in 1,000,000? ), i’d love to see it.