Backyard Chickens

The Mystery of the Teeny Tiny Fart Egg

The mystery of the teeny tiny fart egg

I think Iman is hiding eggs from me again.

She likes to do that a few times a year, and seeking out her stash becomes an Easter egg hunt as the hubby and I scour the chickens’ 2,500 square feet of foraging space for their secret nest. (Last summer’s search yielded almost a dozen eggs!)

So I was very confused the other day after I skipped a day of egg collecting and, in three different locations, ended up finding an Iman egg, a Kimora egg, and a mystery egg that looked like a bantam had come and laid it for us.

Fart eggs are also known as fairy eggs

I can always tell which of my ladies has laid an egg because the colors and sizes are so distinct.

But this teeny tiny egg was a mystery. It was one-third the size of a standard chicken egg, and not quite pink (like Iman’s) but not quite brown (like Kimora’s).

It was about the size of a quail egg, but I knew we didn’t have quails in the yard.

Fart eggs are smaller than standard chicken eggs

So what are tiny chicken eggs all about?

Diminutive eggs like these are known as wind eggs, witch eggs, dwarf eggs, fairy eggs, or more affectionately, fart eggs. I guess if a chicken farted, this is what would theoretically come out!

They’re usually yolkless if a hen hasn’t released a yolk yet by the time her body starts producing the shell.

In those cases, a bit of reproductive tissue breaks off inside the oviduct and triggers the formation of an egg by tricking the hen’s body into thinking the tissue is a yolk.

A misfire, if you will.

Mine, however, had a miniature yolk when I cracked it open โ€” more like a golden squiggle in a sea of egg white.

Some fart eggs are yolkless, but others have tiny, loose yolks

Yolkless eggs sometimes come out darker or lighter. Because of the abnormal cycle, they may spend more or less time in the hen’s shell gland pouch, which deposits pigments on the shell in the final stage of egg making.

This would explain why my fairy egg was a slightly different shade of brown (or pink)… and I never did figure out who laid it.

A fairy egg compared to large chicken eggs

Fart egg folklore

In the olden days, yolkless eggs were sometimes called cock eggs, since without a yolk, the egg wasn’t viable.

This led many to believe that the malformed eggs were laid by roosters (cocks) and they were the work of the devil.

Superstition had it that if a toad or a serpent incubated the cock’s egg, a winged beast called a cockatrice (which bore the head of a rooster and the body of a serpent) would emerge.

Its maleficent powers included turning people to stone and destroying them with its deadly gaze.

The only way to rid of the evil was to hurl the unhatched egg over the roof of the family house without letting it hit the house. (I took my chances by keeping it!)

Fart eggs (also known as fairy eggs or witch eggs) are abnormally sized chicken eggs

Can you eat fart eggs?

These days, we know that fart eggs usually occur in young, newly laying hens, whose bodies are still trying to adjust to the rhythm of laying. In other words, they’re learning to ovulate.

Older hens may occasionally lay fart eggs if something disturbed their reproductive cycles (such as new chicken feed, flock integrations, injuries, changes in the pecking order, a big move, or other environmental factors).

Fart eggs are an (adorable!) anomaly but nothing to worry about. After such a hiccup, a hen should return to laying normal-sized eggs again the next day.

Fart eggs are also edible, and it makes me giggle to think I’m eating something with the word “fart” in it. I fried mine and it was no different than a large egg… just in a bite-sized version!

You can eat fart eggs

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on August 4, 2014.

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring โ€” all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more ยป

20 Comments

  • Avatar
    Lindsay Baker Co.
    May 4, 2017 at 5:42 am

    My hen has laid about 5 fart eggs this week, is that something to be concerned about? Will they go back to normal? She is just over a year old.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Linda from Garden Betty
      May 18, 2017 at 12:26 am

      It’s unusual but can be attributed to environmental stress, such as extreme temperature fluctuations, squabbles with the flock, changes in diet, etc. You can try adding electrolytes (or 1 TBS apple cider vinegar and a clove of garlic) to her water and watching how she behaves and what she eats for the next week to make sure she’s still active, getting enough nutrients, and whatnot. (Also, are you sure ALL the fart eggs are hers?)

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Graham Thomas
    April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

    You will know some of the background to this phenomenon if you have ever drawn the innards out of a hen that died or was slaughtered while still in lay. Her ovaries lie on either side of the backbone and they look little bunches of yellow grapes. Some are only pea-sized, some like grapes and just one will be the full Monty – a yolk, with the tiny packet of germ cells that grows into an embryo, ready to be wrapped in egg-white, a membrane and finally a shell. One yolk per day falls into the egg duct and sets off the process that actually lasts 28 hours. This means that four hours before today’s egg emerges from the hen, tomorrow’s has already begun its journey along the same path. Occasionally, I guess, there isn’t a full sized yolk ready to be encased and some other fragment of tissue sets the process going – with the result that you have described. One day I went to collect the eggs while one hen was still sitting in the nest box. I opened the back of the box and gently slid my hand under the hen to see if she was sitting on any eggs, There were none but as I withdrew my hand the hen deposited on my palm a warm, moist egg. Now that’s what I call fresh!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Anna
    January 11, 2016 at 11:02 am

    I’m slightly jealous that none of my ducks have given me a triple yolker! I am also slightly relieved. *whew*

    Thank you for the backstory on old folklore regarding these tiny weird eggs. Pretty funny what people used to think way back when.

    I’ve gotten probably two of these tiny eggs in the last few years. I also have bantams in the same flock with my standard sized birds, and I like to think I’m pretty good at knowing who lays what- but occasionally, my group of 6 bantam cochins will throw me for a loop. They all lay pretty identical small, perfect little light brown eggs (there are slightly different shades, but I honestly don’t know who lays what shade just yet). Some days I go out to the coop and there will be exactly 6 tiny brown eggs among all the other eggs (which is somewhat unusual but not totally unheard of) but there have also been days where I’ve had more than 6 tiny little brown eggs.

    The fart eggs are camouflaging among the bantam eggs!

    And now you also know how tiny bantam eggs can be. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Anyhoo, great post! Thank you!

    Anna
    Greenwood Nursery Team

    Reply
    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      February 8, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Haha, that sounds so cute… little fart eggs camouflaging among the bantam eggs!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Anna
    May 3, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I’ve gotten two “toot eggs” from my flock since I began chicken keeping. They always look like yours- just a tiny little itty bitty version of the regular thing. Mine didn’t have any yolks though.

    What I think is more fun (not to top your blog, that’s not my intention here, LOL) is getting a triple yolker duck egg. Those are ginormous eggs. I’ve gotten just one of those, and I hope for my poor momma duck it’s the last.

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      May 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Wow! I haven’t seen any triple yolkers here, but I do love duck eggs and wish I had a consistent source for them out here.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Mike the Gardener
    August 5, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Even your small egg makes me jealous … I am still waiting on my girls to lay their first egg … the anticipation is killing me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      August 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Ohhhh, that first egg is so exciting when you find it! I know the feeling!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Mike the Gardener
        August 7, 2014 at 8:40 am

        I keep going out to the coop looking everywhere… hopefully soon ๐Ÿ™‚

        Reply
    • Avatar
      Candice
      March 31, 2021 at 6:11 am

      So I have a he, she just started laying eggs a week and half ago..at least egg or two a day give or take. She laid 9 smaller eggs and this morning a large twice the size of the others and healthier looking..does that mean the 9 eggs that are smaller infertile and that large healthy egg is fertile?

      Reply

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