Posts Tagged ‘egg’

Classical Music Leads to More Eggs

We all knew that Mozart produces eggheads, but how about eggs!? Classical music can increase hens’ productivity, according to a farmer in the UK. Classicalight* covers the story here. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA*Home to Roost had credited Louise Burton with writing this story; please accept our apologies, as the author was Brick Dozer.


Egg Within an Egg?

A video link showing a man cracking open an egg, only to find another egg inside has been floating around the internet. It has been the subject of much virtual debate: Is the video a hoax, or is this a possible occurrence?

This is a possible occurrence. The same chain of events that causes internal laying, (that is, a fully shelled egg works its way UP the oviduct, rather than down and out) causes a shelled egg to re-enter the shell gland and receive a second shell. This super-sized egg is then passed out of the body.

For more on this, check out this video.


New Way to Separate an Egg Yolk

Feeling frustrated with the old trick of separating yolk  from white by using the egg shell? Check out this trick!

Lead in Backyard Eggs

Yes, there is a small risk of lead in backyard eggs, especially in buildings constructed before 1978. For more information, see this article.

If you live in Chicagoland and are concerned about lead levels in your soil, contact Susan Kauffman, who tipped me off regarding the lead in eggs issue. She runs a soil analysis service and offers a soil sampling service.

Eggzy Tracks Backyard Egg Production

A new website, Eggzy, is available for US chicken owners to track egg production. Can we take a bite out of the battery cage operations? This site wants to track that progress.

Chicken owners can track and log stats, including the number of chickens they have, dozens of eggs they have produced, and their location.

Caveat emptor: It is the internet after all, so data could be skewed. But it looks like a fun site!

Egg Carton Labels: What’s in a Name?

Free range. Organic. Cage Free. Omega-3. Farm Fresh. All Natural.

The labels on egg cartons are sometimes not all they’re cracked up to be. What do all these terms mean? If you don’t have your own chickens, how can you know you’re getting eggs from humanely treated hens?

A label you won’t see is battery. About 98% of the eggs produced in North America are from battery hens, who “live” in horrific conditions: allotted a space no bigger than their bodies in tight quarters with other hens, they are force-molted through starvation to keep up egg production. Their beaks are trimmed with a hot wire to prevent pecking. The birds are handled with no concern for their lives or safety, and their bones are broken in handling. Many live their lives not even able to flap their wings.  They die from starvation if they get stuck in their cages, and often dead hens are not discovered and remain in the cage until after they have decomposed.  To learn more about the conditions in battery-cage facilities, click here or here.

So, what’s a better option, and what do all those labels on the more expensive eggs mean anyway?

Here’s the skinny on all the labels. Truthfully, many don’t hold a lot of meaning in terms of animal welfare, so investigate before you buy.

Find a pdf summary of this information in table format here: Egg Carton Labels.

Farm fresh: This term is largely meaningless, and hens are battery kept.

All natural: This term is largely meaningless, and hens are battery kept.

Omega-3 Enhanced: This means the chickens were fed large amounts of food containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, which are expressed in the egg. The hens are mostly battery-cage hens. A better alternative to omega-3 enhanced eggs is to simply eat more foods with these fats, since eggs are not a great source.

Cage-Free or Free-Run: These terms apply to chickens who are not kept in battery cages. They live in henhouses with free access to the enclosed space but do not get outdoors. They are force-molted and treated like battery hens. These facilities are not inspected to assure conditions are as advertised.

Free-Range: These hens are house in conditions similar to those in cage-free or free-run environments, with the exception that they have access to the outdoors. Sometimes this consists of a small door on the henhouse that may or may not be kept open. These facilities are not inspected to assure conditions are as advertised.

Pasteurized: These eggs have been processed to eliminate salmonella bacteria. They have been heated very quickly to a very high temperature to kill bacteria and present less of a risk if eaten raw.

Certified Organic: These hens get an organic diet and have access to the outdoors and vegetation. Their beaks may be trimmed and they may be force molted. Organic eggs must be certified by inspectors. However, the food advocacy group Cornucopia Institute recently found that an “organic” egg-production facilities are using battery production methods. Read their report here.

Animal Welfare Approved: These hens are raised humanely indoors and are cage free. They are not force molted, and beak trimming is very limited. This is the highest standard available, but these eggs are not sold in stores. They are inspected by the Animal Welfare Institute. Find more information here.

American Humane Certified: These birds have more room than battery-cage hens (the size of a piece of legal-sized paper) and they are not force molted, but their beaks may still be trimmed, and studies show that this method of caging is still detrimental to health. These facilities are inspected by a third-party verifying agency.

United Egg Producers Certified: This means the hens have access to fresh food and water. They may be battery kept and force molted, and their beaks may be trimmed. More info on UEP here.

Pastured: The hens that lay these eggs are kept on pasture (or in backyards) and are not confined. They have access to bugs, worms, and other natural foods, and they also eat grains. For more information on pastured eggs, click here. These eggs have more omega-3 fatty acids and higher concentrations of certain vitamins.

As you buy eggs, be aware that commercial egg producers slaughter all male chicks (50% of the hatch) shortly after they hatch. Male chicks are of no use to the egg industry.

So, there you have it. If you don’t have your own chickens, you can make a wiser decision about where your eggs come from.


The Humane Society of the United States. “Egg Carton Labels.” The Humane Society of the United States. Posted Nov. 9, 2009.

Copley, Jennifer. “Egg Labels–Free Range, Organic, and Omega-3.” Suite Posted Jan. 8 2010.

Butler, Kiera. “Is Your Favorite Organic Egg Brand a Factory Farm in Disguise?” Posted Oct. 4, 2010.

Certified Humane: The hens live in barns, uncaged, and they can do normal chicken things like dusting. They are not starved to force a molt but their beaks may be trimmed.  These facilities are inspected

Soft-shelled egg removal

Today’s emergency call was a hen with white, watery liquid in her fluff and some odd stuff happening in and around the vent.

The owner did a fabulous job of documenting the case in his initial email query to me: the other birds, symptoms, behavior changes, description of eggs. He even included pictures! My best guess without seeing her was  uterine prolapse.

I asked the owner to isolate her from the flock to prevent spread of contagions and also keep the other hens from picking at any odd things at her back end (yes, chickens do this!).

The owner did exactly as instructed, and I found the hen resting comfortably in a wire cage under the porch. Her crop was full, which I was pleased to find!

Getting down to business involved gently removing the white urates on her vent and fluff. When they were cleared away, I found a tiny piece of eggshell and part of an egg membrane protruding from the cloaca. This was the major key to the solution. The hen had a soft-shelled egg broken inside of her.

Cleaning the vent

I gently cleaned Maisie's vent with soap and water.

She fretted a bit when I gently pulled on the membrane, but it stimulated her to bear down, and the piece of shell membrane came out. I was hoping it would bring the rest of the egg with it, but no such luck.

I was about to attempt a warm water bath when I discovered that I could stimulate her to bear down, and she passed the rest of the egg! Besides, the hen did not really want to sit in a pan of warm water and kept perching on the side of the tub!

soft-shelled egg

This is what was giving Maisie such a hard time!

I cleaned her up a bit more, swabbed the area with alcohol, and by now the uterine tissues had receded inside the cloaca. We put some warm honey (anti-biotic/anti-inflammatory) mixed with KY Jelly in and on her vent.

Home care suggestions include oyster shell, liquid calcium in the bird’s water, honey treatment for a few days or if red tissues appear again, and observation and isolation until better. I also told the owners to keep an eye on egg production, watch the poop for both light and dark waste, and look for the birdie  “I’m not feeling well!” symptoms:

  • eyes partly closed
  • fluffed
  • not eating (empty crop)
  • lack of vocalization.

Egg issues can be a little dicey, but here’s to a full and complete recovery for Maisie the chicken!