Chickens are raised in large and small farms worldwide, primarily for egg and meat production.
Most of these farms include at least one rooster among a flock of hens.
The rooster usually leads the flock and offers the hens protection from predators.
The hens are in charge of laying eggs, but is it possible for roosters to lay eggs too?
Roosters are biologically incapable of laying eggs because they lack the proper reproductive organs needed for egg production. Only hens have oviducts and can lay eggs, and they will do so even if they have not mated with a rooster.
While some people have claimed their rooster laid an egg, it is simply not possible.
Keep reading for more information on why roosters do not lay eggs, as well as some common egg abnormalities.
Has A Rooster Ever Laid An Egg?
This innocent question has a simple answer: there has never been a recorded instance of a rooster laying an egg.
An intact rooster will generally not go near a hen’s eggs.
The only instance where a male will sit on eggs is if he has been castrated or neutered.
A castrated male chicken is known as a capon, and the process is usually done before the animal reaches sexual maturity.
Capons will behave like hens and sometimes sit on eggs and hatch them if a hen is not around.
Roosters do not have oviducts, which are vital to egg production.
Instead, male chickens produce sperm to fertilize the eggs.
Roosters, also known as cockerels when under a year old, are always male chickens.
There are extremely rare cases where a hen will take on the appearance of a rooster if her ovary becomes damaged or she stops producing estrogen.
When this happens, the hen will stop laying eggs, and she may even grow a waddle and take on the behaviors of a rooster.
This spontaneous sex reversal only happens in one out of every 10,000 hens and is not known to happen to male chickens.
If you think you see a rooster sitting on eggs, it is more likely for the chicken to be a capon or a hen with spontaneous sex reversal syndrome.
What Is A Fairy Egg?
A fairy egg is much smaller than a regular egg, and it also does not have a yolk.
It is normal for a hen to lay eggs of odd sizes when she starts producing eggs.
Fairy eggs happen when an egg forms before the yolk is released from the oviduct.
This usually occurs when the egg-laying process has been interrupted.
A fairy egg is also referred to as a rooster egg, wind egg, or witch egg.
It is perfectly safe to eat fairy eggs, but they are usually used as decoration because they do not rot in the same way as normal eggs.
Because of their unusual size, folk legends claimed fairy eggs were magical, and they were also said to bring bad luck if they were brought inside the home.
Superstition stated if a fairy egg was allowed to hatch, a serpent creature known as a cockatrice would emerge and kill with its evil stare.
What Is A Fart Egg?
A fart egg is very similar to a fairy egg, and it is also small in size.
The main difference between the two is fart eggs will usually have a yolk.
Fart eggs usually result when a foreign particle is trapped in the hen’s oviduct, forming a shell around it.
A fart egg may also be laid during a time of stress for the hen, but this is very rare.
Fart eggs stay in a hen’s shell gland pouch longer than fairy eggs do.
As a result, fart eggshells have increased pigment, making them darker in color.
It is perfectly normal to occasionally see a smaller egg in a hen’s nest, but if it happens very often, it is a good idea to seek veterinary care.
What Are Lash Eggs?
Lash eggs are not eggs at all, but they are a buildup of pus caused by an inflammation known as salpingitis in a hen’s oviduct.
When you see a lash egg in a hen’s nest, it is a sign your chicken has a virus or a bacterial infection.
It is important to seek veterinary care to determine the cause of the inflammation.
Your veterinarian will usually prescribe an antibiotic for your hen until the infection is cleared.
To prevent lash eggs, practice good hygiene by disinfecting feeders and waterers and cleaning the chicken coop.
It is also important to feed your chickens high-quality, nutritious feed to support their immune system.
Check out these other egg variations and problems in our list.
How Do Hens Produce Eggs?
A hen’s reproductive system has an ovary and an oviduct.
A female chicken is born with two ovaries, but one shrinks and ceases to function, leaving the other ovary to develop the eggs.
A hen will lay eggs even if she has not mated with a rooster, and the eggs will be infertile and not produce chicks.
The yolk develops in the ovary and is deposited into the first part of the oviduct, known as the infundibulum.
If the hen has mated with a rooster, it is at this point where the egg becomes fertilized by the rooster’s sperm.
The egg will then be released into the part of the oviduct known as the magnum, and this is where the albumen, or egg white, forms.
Once the albumen is 50% developed, the egg moves to the isthmus.
The inner and outer shell membranes will form in the isthmus, and the albumen completes its development.
The egg then travels to the hen’s uterus, where the hard outer shell is formed.
When the hard outer shell is complete, the egg is pushed out of the hen’s cloaca and into the nest.
The entire process of egg development takes between 24-28 hours to complete, with the bulk of this time spent on forming the outer shell.
The egg-laying process will continue until the hen has a complete clutch, which usually averages around 12 eggs.
If the eggs have been fertilized, the hen will sit on the eggs for around 21 days to incubate them until the chicken embryos grow into baby chicks and hatch.
Some hens have sperm pockets in their bodies where excess sperm is stored to fertilize future eggs.
Further reading: Can a chicken take more than 21 days to hatch?
Why Do You Hear About Roosters Laying Eggs?
Just because a rooster is sitting near an egg, it does not mean he laid it.
This is one of the most likely reasons someone claims their rooster laid an egg.
Small or irregularly-shaped eggs are another reason inexperienced aviculturists believe their rooster lies eggs.
Hens rarely abandon their eggs, and although roosters will usually not sit directly on the eggs, they may still go near them.
None of these circumstances proves the rooster is laying eggs because it is physically impossible for them to do so.
Anyone who says otherwise is simply not educated enough about rooster anatomy and reproduction.
If someone claims their rooster has laid an egg, you are right to question them because it is not true.
Why Would You Want A Rooster?
If roosters do not lay eggs, and they are typically not raised for their meat, why would you want a rooster on your farm at all?
Roosters serve to protect the flock from predators, and they are known for sacrificing themselves to save the hens.
When a rooster perceives potential predators, it will usually crow in alarm to alert the rest of the flock.
A rooster will even fight a predator much larger than them if there is an imminent threat to the hens.
Roosters are also excellent foragers, and they will lead hens to food sources.
The rooster will then allow the hens to eat while watching out for them.
Chickens are known for establishing a pecking order when they are very young.
Docile hens will turn on weak or injured chickens in the flock if there is not a rooster to be their leader.
Commonly Asked Questions
How do farmers know if a chicken egg is fertilized?
Farmers check to see if a chicken egg is fertilized through a process known as candling.
Candling involves holding a bright light against the egg to see the inside of the hard outer shell.
An egg is considered fertilized if there are visible dark spots or if it appears completely opaque.
Is it OK to eat fertilized eggs?
It is completely safe to eat a fertilized egg as long as it has not been incubated and the chick has not started to form.
Fertilized eggs are not known to taste differently than unfertilized ones, and there is no proof they provide extra nutrition.
Some people may find the dark spot in the yolk of a fertilized egg unappealing.
In some cases, the yolk will have a red or orange coloring if the blood vessels of the chick have already begun to form.
Interesting read: Do chickens have periods?
How many years do chickens lay eggs?
Hens do not have a set number of years to lay eggs.
Most hens will start laying eggs at around 18-20 weeks.
The first two to three years of life are usually the most productive laying periods for hens.
Once the hen is about four years old, her egg production will taper until she stops laying eggs altogether.
The number of eggs a hen produces in its lifetime is mainly dependent on the chicken breed, as some species are developed explicitly for egg-laying.
Egg production is also affected by the hen’s nutritional intake, hydration, health, availability of nesting boxes, and the season.
Hens typically stop laying eggs in the wintertime when it is dark and resume egg-laying in the spring.
A hen will also not lay eggs if she is sick, molting, dehydrated, or receiving poor nutrition.