Mangaluru: Early morning I got a call saying that a hen belonging to a local resident had laid a tiny egg measuring little less than 2 cm- that was something interesting to hear, because at home my brother also has raised a few hens and ducks, but never seen a tiny egg laid either by a hen or a duck. So out of curiosity I was determined to see this tiny egg and make a story on it. Heading towards the resident of the caller, I too was astonished to see such a tiny egg, and it was simply cute. It is noted that such tiny eggs are called ‘Witch Egg’, ‘Fairy Egg’, or ‘Fart Egg’.
Getting some information from a local veterinarian about hen laying tiny egg, he said “Occasionally a hen will lay a fairy egg when something has disturbed her reproductive cycle. Sometimes a hen will lay a fairy egg or two just as she comes into laying, before her reproductive system has gotten into gear. They do come in colors that hens lay: white, brown, and so on, although they are sometimes lighter or darker than her regular eggs because they may spend more or less time in the “egg painting” area of her system, the shell gland. Fairy eggs are normally nothing to be concerned about. It simply means your hen didn’t release a yolk before her body started producing an egg to enclose it”.
“Sometimes a hen may lay a small egg that still contains a yolk, too… even if she normally lays larger eggs. Again, this typically happens with a new layer as her body is getting into the rhythm of laying, but it can also happen with older birds if there has been a disturbance that upsets their usual cycle. They do look a little ridiculous next to normal, large eggs, though! Having a hen lay abnormally small eggs isn’t anything to be concerned about unless these drastic size changes happen regularly. But do keep in mind that the eggs of a young pullet are often very small (regularly) for a few months, and gradually get bigger as she matures!” added the vet.
But for David Pinto, the owner of the hen who resides in Bajjodi-Mangaluru, who has come down on holidays from the Gulf where he is employed, this teeny tiny egg laid by his hen was a mystery. Seems like David now needs a smaller frying pan if he decides to fry this egg? It was one-third the size of a standard egg, and not quite brown. When we compared the size of this ‘tiny egg’ against the ‘regular egg’, the latter measured around 5.5 cm, while the tiny one measured around 2 cm. Although these kind of diminutive eggs known as wind eggs, witch eggs, fairy eggs, or more affectionately, fart eggs, they’re usually yolk less if a hen hasn’t released a yolk yet by the time her body starts producing the shell. In those cases, a bit of reproductive tissue breaks off inside the oviduct and triggers the formation of an egg by tricking the hen’s body into thinking the tissue is a yolk.
It is learnt that Yolk-less eggs sometimes come out darker or lighter, since they may spend more or less time in the hen’s shell gland pouch, which deposits pigments on the shell in the final stage of egg making. As per a story, in the olden days, yolk less eggs were sometimes called cock eggs, since without a yolk, the egg wasn’t viable. This led many to believe that the malformed eggs were laid by roosters (cocks) and they were the work of the devil. Superstition had it that if a toad or a serpent incubated the cock’s egg, a winged beast called a cockatrice (which bore the head of a rooster and the body of a serpent) would emerge. Its maleficent powers included turning people to stone and destroying them with its deadly gaze. The only way to rid of the evil was to hurl the unhatched egg over the roof of the family house without letting it hit the house.
These days, we know that fart eggs usually occur in young, newly laying hens, whose bodies are still trying to adjust to the rhythm of laying. But older hens may occasionally lay a fart egg if something disturbed their reproductive cycles (such as a new diet, new flock-mates, or environmental changes). They’re an (adorable!) anomaly but nothing to worry about; after such a hiccup, a hen should return to laying normal-sized eggs again the next day. It is said that Fart eggs are also edible, and it makes me giggle to think that eating something with the word “fart” in it. And even if David tries to fry this egg, it would be no different than a large egg… just in a bite-sized version!
But David has decided to keep this teeny-weeny as a souvenir in his fridge, enclosed inside a glass container-because it could be World’s smallest chicken egg, probably even make it into the Guinness Book of Records? This ting egg measures just 0.8 inches (2 cm) long, has a diameter of 0.77 inches (2cm) through its widest part and weighs 0.24oz (7g). On average, a chicken’s egg is two and a quarter inches (5.7cm) long, one and three quarter inches (4.4cm) in diameter, and weighs 2oz (57g). As per David, his hen is about 13 months old, healthy and has laid normal sized eggs ever since he bought her and his other other hen, both from the same breeder, a year ago. He also has a rooster- both hens fed on the same type of food enriched with the necessary proteins and vitamins to aid egg production. But the other hen has not laid such a little cracker until now.
Speaking Mangalorean.com, David said, “As usual when I go to pick up the egg in the morning, I could see it was an egg, but because it was so small at first I thought perhaps a bird had come in and laid it and my hen had just been sitting on it. But bird eggs aren’t usually that light brown colour, and it’s smaller even than a blackbird’s egg. All the eggs that this hen laid last year were average and normal size, apart from a couple which were a bit smaller, but not at all tiny like this one. I brought it into the house and showed my wife. For a few hours we were both amazed. Then I thought, what can I do with that? I looked on the Internet but couldn’t see any as small as it. I was curious so I contacted my friend Joseph at Mangalorean.com, where he said that the website would love to do a story on it. And here I am holding the hen and her egg for a photo-shot captured by Alfie and a story by him. Funny but amazing”.
David Pinto lives along with his wife (a housewife) and two sons, studying in College- and also with two hens, a rooster and a well-breed dog. “I never thought that my picture and a short story would be in the media, but now it is. All credit should go to my hen, who made it possible..ha” giggled David before I left his residence, after sipping on a delicious tender coconut water that he offered me.
Going to the history of eggs- The smallest egg laid by any bird is that of the vervain hummingbird of Jamaica and two nearby islets, according to Guinness World Records. Two specimens measured less than 0.39in (10mm) in length and weighed 0.0128oz (0.365g) and 0.0132oz (0.375g) An egg laid by a ‘posture canary’ of the German Crested variety owned by a man in Heijen, Holland, measured 0.275in in length and 0.2in (5.25mm) in diameter in 1998. It weighed 0.0009oz (0.027g).
At the other end of the scale, the largest egg on record from a living bird weighed 5lb 11.36oz (2.589kg) and was laid by an ostrich at a farm owned by Kerstin and Gunnar Sahlin in Borlange, Sweden, on May 17, 2008.