Our chickens have been laying some pretty odd eggs of late. We have had beautiful.large spotty eggs, small ones from our new pullet (a young hen who has just started to lay), wrinkled eggs from someone who is coming to the end of her egg laying life and someone popped out a tiny weeny one which is known as a "fairy egg" or even a "fart egg". We can usually identify who has laid each egg in the hen run, but the fairy egg is a mystery - no one has owned up, but my suspicions are that it was Little Grey Hen - she was coming to the end of her reproductive life and so anomalies are more likely to happen.
Fairy eggs are often created when a bit of reproductive material breaks away in the oviduct and the hen's reproductive system is fooled into thinking that it is an egg. They can also be laid by chickens who are just coming into lay and are just getting the hang of things.These usually contain no yolk. However, ours was a perfect egg in miniature so I think that it was more likely to be formed as an aberration in a reproductive system which is starting to close down - so egg laying becomes more erratic.
The expression "fart eggs" is relatively new and suggests that the egg was blown out early by a fart. Historically, they had names related to witch craft or superstition - and so were known as fairy eggs, witches' eggs, fairy eggs and even cock's eggs (laid by the cockerel). They were believed to bring bad luck to a household - and to escape the bad luck you had to throw the egg over your house allowing it to break on the other side. We cracked ours open to have a look inside and it was a perfect egg in miniature. So we scrambled it with several normal sized eggs and ate it.
We have also had one or two very funny wrinkled eggs recently. These have all been laid by the same hen - appropriately enough called Egg. Reasons for wrinkled eggs vary but I suspect that in her case they indicated a lack of grit in her diet.
Hens need grit to crunch up their food in their gizzards (hens don't have teeth). If they can't grind up their food they extract less nutrients from it. We have recently penned our hens into a relatively small area because we have lost several to foxes, who are very prevalent in our commune at the moment. Because she has less opportunity to scratch around I think she has been eating less naturally found grit. So I upped the grit in the diet by scattering more in the earth in the run and by adding some to their food hopper. This seems to have helped the situation and egg production is normalising.
But we should have thrown the fart egg over the house and allowed it to smash on the other side, because a few days ago the fox came back and we lost three members of the flock - Mrs Pookie, my beloved bantam, and Bertie the Rooster were taken. And Little Grey Hen, who I believe laid the fairy egg, was found dead in the run - minus her head.
R.I.P. Little Grey Hen - seen here on the left enjoying a good gritty scratch about with Egg (middle) and Chicken (right).