The truth about chickens: Facts about the egg

By Brianna Swierk

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Chickens, those feathered creatures that provide people with eggs, meat, feathers, and also companionship. And yet, though they are providers to people, how much do people know about chickens and how much of what they do know is correct? As Animal Science majors and chicken owners ourselves we have heard many incorrect assumptions made about chickens. Therefore, we are endeavoring to correct some common myths about chickens.

Myth number one: roosters are needed for egg production. Whenever we tell others that we have chickens of our own, to keep for eggs and for pets, one of the first questions we hear is: ‘I thought you need a rooster for a chicken to lay eggs? Let us answer it this way: Does a human female need a male to ovulate? The answer is no and it is the same answer for chickens too. The rooster is needed only when someone wants a fertile egg- that’s it; no rooster then no chicks but a hen can still lay eggs. The hen does need one requirement in order to lay eggs though, which is daylight. A hen needs a minimum of fourteen hours and will lay an egg approximately every twenty five to twenty seven hours.

We have noticed this with our own chickens; during spring into early summer our hens lay almost every day and that season is when there is the most sunlight. However, once fall starts to come and the days get shorter egg production decreases and we may get one (which is more common) to four eggs everyday or even eggs every other day from eight chickens. Granted some are older and thus their laying days are over because as chickens age their egg production decreases.

Myth number two: the color of the egg shell determines taste or nutritional value. This is one of the most absurd statements about chickens we have heard since having owned them. The color is only due to pigmentation and does not affect its nutritive value. But the color of the egg has been linked to earlobe color, the earlobe being the fleshy skin on the side of the head; therefore, if the earlobe is red the chicken is likely to lay brown eggs and a chicken with white earlobes will lay white eggs.

These incorrect assumptions are not the only falsifies that are thought to be true so it is our hope to have at least shed a little more light on the subject of chickens.

Rebecca Swierk and Brianna Swierk are Collegian contributors; they can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively.