I knew about these eggs with double yolks. I had seen plenty of chicken keepers sharing double yolk eggs with their audiences. It has been seven years since starting out keeping chickens and we still were waiting for one. Then this past week, one of the chickens laid a huge egg. It was about the size of two eggs and took up my entire hand. I thought surely, this must be a double yolk egg. At first, I didn’t want to crack it open. I let it sit on the counter with its sister eggs, so that I could admire it when I was in the kitchen. It was so large and pretty and I know that the chicken that laid it must have had quite to the effort to pass it. Then last night, the kids wanted eggs for dinner. It was time.
As we gathered around, I cracked the egg open. Sure enough–finally! We had our first double yolk egg. I could not help but cheer with excitement. We had a rare egg and we were celebrating. Who would have thought that the entire family would stand around a sizzling pan with butter and sheer anticipation in the air. We do love our girls!
But what is with these double yolkers anyway? How do they happen and what do they mean and why don’t we ever see them in the supermarket?
Double yolk eggs are a result of an oops in the reproductive system of the chicken. I was surprised to learn that approximately 1 in 1000 eggs has a double yolk. Double yolk eggs do not end up in supermarkets, because all eggs are candled for “defects” including double yolks prior to packing. Instead, these “defects” are sold as eggs to use in processed products. All eggs with multiple yolks are safe to eat.
The process of egg laying is very interesting. You can read more about it here. The egg laying process typically takes approximately 26 hours to form an egg. A double yolked egg starts when instead of the ovary releasing one yolk it releases two at once. These two yolks stay together during the entire egg making journey and eventually end up encapsulated into one shell.
So now you are probably wondering the same thing that my kids did after I shared this with them. Can chickens hatch twins? It rarely happens as both chicks die, but there have been cases where these fertilized double yolk eggs have been opened at precisely the right time and the two chicks have survived.
Of course, over the years and cultures, double yolk eggs have been considered to be linked to fertility, good fortune and even doom! Eggs can have even more than two yolks with the largest chicken egg containing 9 yolks! Double yolk eggs typically come from younger pullets (hens) as they begin to lay. Breeds most likely to give you a double yolker include Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds.
Do your hens give you double yolkers?