If happy chickens lay bigger eggs, then Jeff England has some of the happiest chickens on earth.
England, of Douglas City, owns more than 400 chickens and has gathered more than his share of noteworthy eggs in his career. But he says an egg laid this week by one of his Ameraucana chickens at Deerlick Springs Eggs may have broken the U.S. record for the biggest chicken egg. What's more, his egg may be second biggest egg on record in the world.
England said his egg weighs 188 grams, or 6.6 ounces. He said the current world record is 198 grams, laid by a chicken in China, but that the previous world record was 176 grams, which is far less than his 188-gram egg. (For a little perspective, an average large egg weighs about 47 grams, or 1.67 ounces.) For an idea of England's egg's heft, his egg weighs as much as about one-and-a-half sticks of butter, or a half can of soda. Visually, it's a smooth-shelled giant that towers over other eggs.
England took a breather from his chores at Deerlick Springs Eggs in Douglas City for a telephone discussion about his super-sized egg. He said the egg is now safely wrapped in a towel in the refrigerator while he awaits word about how to officially certify and properly document the egg's size. He's been in touch with a chicken colleague, aka The Chicken Whisperer, who's helping with the process.
"It's pretty wild," England said of the egg, adding that he's answered the phone all day from various media people, but didn't mind a few more questions.
Q: Does it hurt a chicken to lay an egg that large?
I'm sure she was screaming.
Q: What would happen if someone allowed that large of an egg to hatch - if it were fertilized, which I realize yours probably are not.
Q: Does the chicken who laid that egg look any different from the rest of your chickens -- I mean, is she a monster-sized chicken, or just an ordinary girl?
Q: After your egg's size has been certified, what will you do with it?
Not sure yet.
Q: I don't suppose the chicken who laid this egg has a name? (I know. Long shot.)
No, some of our chickens do (have names), but I'm not sure who laid it.
Q: Final question. Are you sure it's a chicken egg? For example, do you have ducks on your property?
No ducks. Just chickens. It's an Ameraucana chicken egg.
Meanwhile, it's business as usual for England, who supplies his free-range chicken eggs to Tops Markets in Weaverville and Redding.
England takes pride in his eggs, produced by contented chickens who wander and roost at will; chickens without borders, free to eat what they want, sleep when they want and lay eggs when they want. Any size they want.
And maybe they love their job so much that the chickens reward England with eggs worthy of special attention.
Meanwhile, perhaps somewhere out on England's property is one Ameraucana chicken who walks a bit more gingerly than the others, one who's perhaps searching for an extra-soft place to sit. There, she can indulge in some poultry pondering as she considers life's ultimate question.
Are bigger eggs all that they're cracked up to be?
Photos courtesty of Jeff England of Deerlick Springs Eggs in Douglas City, California.
Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.
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