Poultry eggs FAQ. Everything you ever wanted to know about eggs.

All the eggs from all birds currently kept as poultry.

The eggs above are from the different types of poultry commonly kept for their eggs or meat.

Top row from left to right: Ostrich, Rhea, Emu.

Bottom row from left to right: Celedon Quail, Quail, Partridge, Pheasant, true bantam, Bantam, Guinea fowl, Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Peafowl, Goose.

Table of Contents

Egg Anatomy:

The hard shelled egg is how birds reproduce.

Below: The egg is made up from a yolk, white, shell and various membranes.

All eggs contain an air cell which can become damaged if handled or transported incorrectly.

Eggs are normally laid in the mornings although it can be as late as 3 pm.

Egg Quality:

How can you tell quality of poultry eggs?

Quality and freshness are not the same when it comes to eggs. The freshness of an egg is only one aspect of it's quality. 

Egg quality is assessed by measuring the weight, size, shape, shell thickness, contents and cleanliness of the shell as well as any contamination, internally or externally.

When assessing egg quality we look for:

  • An egg that is an appropriate size for the breed of poultry.
  • An egg that is a good shape and not too short, fat, distorted, wrinkled or elongated.
  • Clean, strong shell of uniform colour with no marks or blemishes.
  • Plenty of thick, solid and not watery egg white.
  • Clearly visible chalaza with no deformities.
  • A good coloured yolk that holds it shape well and doesn't split or flatten.
  • An egg whose contents are free from inclusions like blood or meat spots.
  • Free from pathogens like salmonella.

Some birds are more seasonal layers than others and produce eggs only in the spring and summer. Chickens also become more seasonal as they age.


Eating eggs:

Which birds eggs do we eat?

The most commonly eaten birds eggs from farmed poultry in order of popularity:

  • Chicken,
  • Duck,
  • Guinea fowl ,
  • Quail,
  • Goose,
  • Ostrich,
  • Pheasant,
  • Partridge.

Does not include local delicacies and indigenous egg consumption.

Egg colour:

What is an eggs natural colour?

An eggs natural colour is white. Nearly all eggs start out white and have any colour deposited on to them before they are laid.

Final egg colour depends on the breed of poultry that produced the egg.

Why are eggs different colours?

Eggs are different colours for a variety of reasons:

  • They camouflage with the surroundings.
  • Changing climate and conditions drive evolution of egg colour.
  • They have been selectively bred to produce a certain egg colour.
  • Minerals and feeds in the environment.
  • Genetic mutations

What is the rarest egg colour?

Charcoal or grey is the rarest egg colour

How many colours of egg are there?

There are 12 distinct colours of egg, they are green, olive, brown, dark brown, white, blue, cream, pink, purple, speckled, grey and tinted or ivory.

Egg incubation:

What is egg incubation?

Egg incubation is where the eggs are warmed up the body temperature of the bird and allowed to develop until they hatch. You can use a broody hen or artificial incubator for this process.

How do you know if the egg is fertile?

There is no reliable to either tell whether the egg is fertile or what sex the occupant will be when it hatches. You need to incubate the eggs for 7 to ten days and then candle them to test fertility. 


Hatching eggs:

What is the best way to write on eggs?

Hatching eggs should be clearly marked with non toxic pens or pencils and stored correctly.

How do you know when eggs are near hatching?

Eggs that are near to hatching generate a lot of their own heat and begin to roll about in the incubator on their own. In the last two days before the chicks emerge they pip an little triangular hole in the shell with their egg tooth.


Eggs that are going to be incubated must be chosen and stored with care.

Egg problems:

Why is my chicken laying odd eggs?

Abnormal chicken eggs can nearly always be traced back to the health of the chicken that laid the egg or how it is handled while being collected and stored.

Why aren't your eggs hatching?

Eggs fail to hatch because there are either genetic issues, fertility problems , nutritional deficiencies or stress factors in the parent flock or the eggs have been incorrectly selected or stored and have suffered shock or temperature challenges.