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What is a Fairy Egg and Why Do Chickens Lay Them?

If you are raising chickens, you may find yourself in a predicament much like many other owners out there. You head out into the coop to pick up eggs and find yourself holding one that looks like it came from a bantam chicken. Except, you don’t have any bantams. So what is this? Turns out this fun-sized egg is known as a fairy egg. Don’t worry, it’s not from a real fairy. What is a fairy egg, you ask? Keep reading to find out where these tiny eggs come from and why chickens lay them.

What is a Fairy Egg?

tiny fairy egg in the hand

A fairy egg is about the size of a grape or marble or sometimes even a quail egg. They are tiny eggs that are a natural part of the egg-laying process. Sometimes little glitches happen in a chicken’s body, and this is the result. Fairy eggs usually do not have a yolk, though it is possible that pieces of a yolk are found within.

Fairy eggs can be laid in any color: brown, white, pink, beige, green, and blue. They are sometimes lighter or darker than the eggs your hens usually lay, because they tend to spend a random duration in the shell gland pouch. The shell gland pouch is what deposits the pigments into the egg before it gets laid.

You may be alarmed to find your chickens laying such abnormally small eggs, but they are nothing to be concerned about.

What Are Some Other Names For Fairy Eggs?

Throughout the ages, miniature chicken eggs were given a wide variety of names. In Scotland and England, fairy eggs were called “wind eggs.” During the Middle Ages, there was quite a bit of folklore circling around about fairy eggs. They were often referred to as “cock” or “witch” eggs and were thought to be the work of a demon or the devil.

According to superstition, a cock egg was born of a rooster, incubated either a serpent or a toad, and would hatch a creature called a cockatrice. If you have never heard of a cockatrice, it was supposedly a beast with the body of a snake and the head of a rooster. In order to dispel the devilry, you had to throw the egg over the roof of your home without it landing on the roof and going splat.

Of course, that was all absolute nonsense.

During the Victorian era, these tiny eggs became known as fairy eggs for their size and weight. In the Americas, around the same time, farmers began saying “fart eggs” instead.

Why Do Chickens Lay Fairy Eggs?

There are a couple of theories surrounding fairy eggs. Most often, fairy eggs are the result of a pullet laying her very first batch of eggs. Since younger hens may not be 100% ready to start laying, their bodies misjudge and make a dwarf egg. It’s no big deal. In fact, you should take it as a sign that your little ladies are going to be fully grown soon.

Fairy eggs become rarer as your chickens age. You may see these eggs are the beginning or end of the egg-laying season, particularly in flocks where egg production drops off during the colder months. This is often due to the slowing down of reproduction.

In other cases, a fairy egg is laid because of a blip. Sometimes a piece of reproductive organ tissue or a blood clot detaches from the wall of the oviduct. Since the reproductive glands in the hen do not know the difference between this cluster of cells and a forming yolk, the chicken’s body begins building a shell to protect it. This is why most fairy eggs do not have a yolk, only the egg white, also known as the albumen.

Just like any regular egg, the fairy egg will travel through the oviduct to be laid, even if it is not a true egg.

Are Fairy Eggs Safe to Eat?

Yes, you can most definitely eat a fairy egg. Don’t let crass monikers like “fart egg” fool you. Fairy eggs contain the same stuff as a regular egg. Of course, the fun part is guessing what you are going to get. Some fairy eggs only contain a yolk while others have only albumen. Others are going to have both a yolk and albumen, but the size is going to be super small.

Go on, test your luck. Crack open those fairy eggs.

Use Your Fairy Eggs as Decor

Since fairy eggs do not have a lot of nutritional value, some people have come up with other ways to make use of these cute little eggs. For one, you can use them for décor or in arts and crafts. Simply rinse off the bloom and let the eggs air dry. Since the egg whites inside will dry out, you can sit the eggs on your kitchen counter as a prize. The eggs won’t go bad, so you don’t even have to worry about removing the inner contents.

Can I Prevent My Chickens From Laying Fairy Eggs?

Since fairy eggs are kind of an anomaly, there is no telling if you can prevent them from happening. Again, these diminutive eggs are the result of youth, in most cases. Your young hens are simply preparing to lay regular sized eggs. Other times, it is a misfire. Your hen’s reproductive system is reactionary, so anything in the oviduct is going to prompt a reaction.

However, to ensure your chickens are healthy and getting enough nutrition to lay normal-sized eggs, be sure to feed them at premium feed with 16% protein. Give them some treats once in a while. Provide a space for exercise. And make sure your chickens are drinking fresh water throughout the day. You may also want to see if anything is stressing your flock out overnight.

If you check off all these boxes only to have a mature hen regularly laying fairy eggs, it may be time to take that hen to the vet. There could be something wrong with her reproductive tract.

Enjoy Your Fairy Eggs

What is a fairy egg? A diminutive egg that happens naturally but at random. Sometimes younger hens lay them, because their systems aren’t mature yet. Other times, it’s just a blip in reproduction. You may find one randomly in a nesting box one day, but there is nothing to worry about. Bring your cute little fairy egg inside and use it as you would any other egg.