Why Weirdly Shaped Eggs Happen

Rachel Tepper Paley
·Editor
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You won’t see eggs like this in a supermarket. Photo: ciaosamin/Instagram

Amongst the idyllic, pastel-hued hubbub that heralds the Easter season, the wonky eggs in the picture above stand out like a sore thumb. Samin Nosrat, the chef and author who posted the photo, had only one thing to say about them: “Weird eggs,” reads the succinct caption. The photo struck a cord, with nearly 250 Instagram users “liking” the photo.

Suffice to say, these eggs are not like the perfectly round shells at the marketplace. One appears grossly oversized, another malnourished. Others are oddly shaped, tapering to a point or a cylinder. We wondered: Why are they shaped like that?

“The most likely cause of misshapen eggs like that is stress on the hen while she’s in production,” explained Kathy Mormino, an attorney-turned-chicken-farmer whose blog, The Chicken Chick, has made her a go-to resource for her nearly half-million Facebook followers.

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Eggs with a deformed, textured shell. Photo: Kai Schreiber/Flickr

“It takes approximately 25 hours [for a chicken] to produce an egg,” Mormino continued. “So in the formative stages, when the shell is being put on the egg, if she’s stressed it can come out funky.” Stress can be a result of something simple, like being bothered by another hen who’s trying to steal her nesting spot. “That happens all the time,” Mormino said.

These strange shapes could also be the result of something more serious, like disease, old age, or diet deficiency. (Mormino goes into depth about these and other irregularities here.) But usually, such oddities are purely a matter of aesthetics — the egg within is often completely safe to eat.

All things considered, these deformities are rare. Mormino said she’d scarcely encountered such eggs in the six years she’s been raising chickens, even with her sizable current flock of 45 birds. But when they occur, they tend to command attention.

“People really get freaked out by them — they think the internal parts of the bird are falling out, and that’s really not the case,” Mormino said. “More often than not, it’s nothing to be concerned about.”

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