When a Queensland woman handled her chook eggs for the first time, she was shocked to see tiny small bumps grouped together over the hard shell and instantly feared the worst.
"Lice eggs," she thought looking at the unusual texture of the eggs she'd just collected. So she turned to social media to help solve the mystery.
"Found these on a chook egg. Are they lice eggs?" she asked in an entomology Facebook group this week.
"The egg is perfect, these things just wiped off. They aren’t rock hard but not squishy either hence why I thought they might be eggs of some sort".
But thankfully they weren't lice eggs or any other egg for that matter. The little raised bumps on her chicken eggs were excess calcium.
"These extra deposits of calcium do occur from time to time and are relatively common," Jason Nethercott, from Talking Hens, told Yahoo News Australia. Talking Hens is a Melbourne-based poultry supplier.
"The eggs are absolutely fine to eat as there is no compromise to the internal quality of the egg," he added. "The calcium deposits can be seen as tiny, egg-like, bumps, white spots or patches on the egg shell".
What causes calcium deposits on chicken eggs?
There are a few reasons why some eggs might appear to have these markings, and most come down to diet.
"The most common cause would be excess calcium in a hen’s diet due to being fed an improper or poorly formulated laying feed," Jason explained. Speckled eggs can also me a sign of excess calcium.
"Some backyard chicken owners like to crush and feed egg shells to their flocks," Jason added. "Which is one way that calcium levels can be raised excessively."
Another potential cause of calcium deposits on eggshells, is the hen having an issue or defect with her shell gland. This is where the 15-hour process of forming and pigmenting the eggshell takes place.
"A hen experiencing stress during the shell formation process can also cause calcium deposits," Jason said.
While "relatively common" among backyard chicken owners, it's "pretty uncommon in commercial egg production" Kelley Seagrave from Australian Eggs told Yahoo.
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