Thursday, 9 June 2011

Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

Well, I am not about to start discussing the great philosophical question of which really did come first, although, I believe that the egg must have come first as dinosaurs and reptiles laid eggs, and these came before the chicken. However which came first the chicken or the chicken egg is a different matter. There's the joke to consider about a chicken and an egg laying in bed one of them smoking, but that not only is a little cheeky, it also condones smoking. Anyhow, in my life the chickens came and then they laid eggs. This post is a closer look at the miracle that is an egg...

 View the source of this diagram by clicking this link

Eggs are amazing creations. They take between 24 and 26 hours to make. They are made from the inside out. The chicken releases a yolk from her ovary, and is held in the funnel for 15 minutes to allow for fertilization (which would occur if there was a Mr Chicken around). It then passes to the magnum where the white forms after 3 hours. The yolk rotates as the white (or albumen) is added and fibres form to make the chalazae which holds the yolk suspended in the centre of the egg.

The shell membranes take 1 hour 15 minutes to form in the isthmus. The egg is now its full shape and size. It passes along to the uterus to form the shell after 19 hours, its colouring and protective coating are added here. After a few minutes in the vagina the egg is laid through the vent.

Random facts about eggs:

  • A hen has 2 ovaries like all female creatures, but only use the left one. The right one stays dormant.
  • Like human females, a hen is born with all the ova (yolks) she will use in her life.
  • Size of eggs increase as the hen gets older.
  • Laying is known as oviposition.
  • A hen has a 30 minute break after laying, then the whole process starts again.
  • The egg moves through the hen small end first, but it rotates just before laying and comes out large end first.
  • The colour of the yolk depends on the hens diet, for yolks that are more orange she should eat more grass and plants.
  • Egg shells are made from calcium carbonate.
  • Eggs are 40.5*C when laid.

Eggs are very versatile and I love being able to collect them each morning. Considering that our girls are "spent" commercial laying hens, we have had at least 2 eggs every day between 3 of them. And we have had 3 eggs on a lot of days. I'll work on some egg stats for another post. We've not managed to get a huge surplus of eggs, we have sold a few and given a few away and eaten loads! Yummy :-)

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