There’s no denying that we’re pretty ignorant about where our food comes from and process behind sourcing it before it ends up on the shelves at the grocery store. This includes items as basic as eggs – a fundamental item on many people’s weekly shopping lists and a key ingredient in many food products. The truth is, unless we are the ones raising the hens, we won’t have any firsthand experience of the process behind eggs being laid.
It goes without saying but we know a lot more about human childbirth than we do about chickens laying eggs. But perhaps it’s time we did acquaint ourselves more with the process. Like I say, eggs are a substantial ingredient in a lot of what we consume on a daily basis. Plus if it means not freaking out at the prospect of eating a particularly odd-looking egg because you’re well aware that it’s absolutely normal, then that’s always a positive.
Because although eggs you buy at the grocery store seem to be uniform in size, shape, and color, anomalies occur a lot more often than you might realize.
In fact, recently one Reddit user by the name of Ellie McGrath posted a photo on the social news-sharing site of a monstrously large egg that her hen laid. Unsurprisingly, her fellow Reddit users couldn’t wait to weigh in on the unusual sight, making jokes about its abnormally large size.
So how did it all start? Well, McGrath (E_graaa on Reddit) thought something more sinister was going on with her hen, Belinda. Indeed, her immediate instinct was that the chicken was being attacked.
“She spent a few minutes hopping up and down and clucking making some crazy noises,” McGrath explained on Reddit. Then it turned out that Belinda, a one-year-old Australorp and Rhode Island Red cross, was in the middle of laying what appears to be one of the longest eggs a little chicken possibly can lay.
“So, my chicken just laid this monstrosity,” McGrath wrote, referring to the picture of the large egg on the subreddit, r/WTF.
Since the unusual photo was posted, it has received over 30,000 upvotes, 200 comments, and a whole load of egg puns. “Her Magnum Ovum,” the Reddit user gaberax commented. “It’s actually a Chic Tac,” another user, itsjamian wrote. We joke but let’s face it, the hen deserves a medal for laying that ginormous egg.
“She didn’t stop squawking and flapping her wings for a good few minutes,” McGrath told Inverse. “I didn’t know what the hell was going on… until I saw The Egg.”
It may seem like a freak of nature to those who only come across eggs in cartons from the grocery store but people who raise chickens will know that eggs with an abnormal shape are pretty ordinary
Hens’ reproductive systems are extremely complex and if an egg which is still developing misses a stage of maturation, it can end up looking different to the other eggs. Female chicks are born with ovaries that contain a lifetime supply of ova. When they reach full sexual maturity, their ovaries start releasing the yolks into the oviduct.
It is in the oviduct that the yolk is cased with a white membrane and the shell. It is a very rapid process which is why errors leading to unusual-looking eggs are quite common. If the release of a yolk comes at an unexpected time and two yolks arrive in the oviduct, the shell of the egg might just encase them both.
So is this what happened with Belinda’s huge egg? Although most of the time when a particularly lengthy egg laid by a hen contains two yolks, McGrath explained that when she cracked it open, “it was just a normal egg with one mother of a yolk.”
The huge yolk, which dominated the content of the egg, may have encouraged the development of a larger shell in the oviduct, in the same way that two yolks would have. And ladies and gentleman, that’s most likely why the egg was so damn big in the first place.
But the story doesn’t end there! Weirdly enough, just a week later, McGrath discovered yet another huge egg laid by her hen and again posted it on Reddit.
It then emerged that this pattern of larger eggs most likely indicated a change in the hen’s anatomy. In any case, it suggests that Belinda and her anatomy are pretty unique. Well done to the exceptional hen for being able to lay such a monstrous egg!