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Pullet Eggs

January 11, 2010

December 6, 2008

Chickens don’t start out laying regular-sized eggs. Like most of us, they begin with baby steps. The avian version of goofy adolescence results in first tiny eggs, then a-little-bit-bigger eggs, and so on until finally they lay eggs that can stand up to the other big guys in the carton.

Why are tiny foods such a delicacy? With fish, game, and farm-raised animals, the meat of younger specimens is certainly sweeter, with a smoother, softer texture than that of their older relatives. But there’s something else about the small, precious thing – the limitations of its size invite adoration, as it’s hard to cherish that which one has too much of. Maybe you’re a delicacy when someone says you are. I’m not sure the “pullet egg” is any tastier than a big cone-head egg from a two-year-old hen, but it seems too special to crack, and it can’t be packaged for sale alongside larger eggs.

According to Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, “…pullets lay small eggs when they first start out, and they lay only one egg every three to four days. By the time a hen is 30 weeks old, her eggs will reach their normal size and she should lay at least two eggs every three days.” In the second year a chicken slows down and lays an egg every other day, or less. Storey’s also reports, “A healthy hen should lay for a good 10 to 12 years.” ‘Coons, hawks, foxes and coyotes have always managed to cut short that experiment in our barn, and I’ve not been lucky enough to see it proven anywhere else locally, but I imagine the laying habits of a 10 year old hen are spotty at best.

If undersized eggs can’t be sold, where do they go? Curious about what the big egg companies do with their pullet eggs, I put in a call to Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs of New Hampshire. My query was met with a chuckle, and possibly a cluck, followed by a bewildered admission. “I have no idea what they do with them,” she said. “Maybe our chickens just lay big eggs right from the get-go…..”

Obviously, Storey’s Guide was not required reading for a desk job at the egg farm. “Or maybe they put them in with the medium-sized eggs?” These little eggs coudn’t pass for a medium on their best day. I’m still waiting to hear from the big muckety-muck in Muck boots up there in farm-central. For now I might blow out the little eggs for painting, in a nod to the Ukrainian tradition of pysanky. Or I may simply make a tiny fried egg and enjoy it on a quarter piece of toast, as a delicacy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 11:44 am

    I like this content so much.Imagination is more important than knowledge.

    • May 3, 2010 9:21 pm

      Thank you for the like, I’m not sure if imagination being more important than knowledge is a compliment in this situation, but I’ll take it as one, and I must admit: I live in my Muck Boots!

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