2

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Is this a fertilized egg?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 26, 2011 at 4:42 PM

PaleoDel's question got me thinking about my own eggs, recently acquired from a real backyard. They each had a few dark specks in them, and one had what looked like blood vessels surrounding the yoke. There wasn't too much blood. I did cook them separately from each other and from other foods, they tasted great, and I haven't died after a week so far. Were these eggs fertilized? How old can you go on a fertilized egg? Is there a health issue, or is it just gross?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 28, 2011
at 01:27 AM

AaronB, what do you mean by nasty? Does it taste bad?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 28, 2011
at 01:26 AM

Thanks! This last photo is pretty much what it looked like. The eggs were also gathered by someone who doesn't usually do that, so she might have missed some on the laying day.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on September 27, 2011
at 11:57 AM

To add to the good answers below: if you ever get an egg that's actually been incubating under a hen long enough to start developing, it will definitely not look like a normal egg with some blood spots. The yolk will be broken and runny, and the white will be starting to sort of separate and coagulate around the embryo, possibly with some blood mixed in. It'll all be stuck to the shell more than normal, too. It's pretty nasty, and easy to recognize, once you've tried eggs that you found under a hen in some out-of-the-way place.

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6 Answers

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4
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on September 27, 2011
at 07:01 AM

How can you tell if an egg is fertilized or not?

is-this-a-fertilized-egg?

Is it safe to eat fertilized eggs?

Dark spots on egg yolks are really just spots of blood from a broken blood vessel incorporated into the egg yolk as it is being produced inside the hen. They are usually quite rare and can be small small or very occasionally large.

is-this-a-fertilized-egg?

If the yolk contains blood vessels like the photo below then it is fertile and has been incubated for a short time. If it is from back yard hens then I expect one of the hens was briefly sitting on it.

is-this-a-fertilized-egg?

Fertile eggs are safe to eat. In fact almost fully grown chick embryos are eaten in some parts of the world. Not for the squeamish though.

When eggs are laid, even fertilised eggs, they enter a state of suspended growth and will not develop unless they are incubated under appropriate conditions at chicken body temperature.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 28, 2011
at 01:26 AM

Thanks! This last photo is pretty much what it looked like. The eggs were also gathered by someone who doesn't usually do that, so she might have missed some on the laying day.

6
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on September 26, 2011
at 04:56 PM

There is no health issue. Unless the egg is kept warm, it won't grow well, so most fertilized eggs end up stunted when they're stored at refrigerator temperatures. If you are getting your eggs from a real farm, there IS the chance that you may end up getting an egg that would have become a chick in time under different circumstances, but this isn't a PROBLEM, it's part of the natural process of obtaining food from healthy, real, living sources.

Even though eggs can be kept at room temperature for an extended period, I tend to keep mine refrigerated most of the time unless I've gotten them out to bring to room temperature for specific reasons (like for making mayo). That way, if an egg is fertilized, chances are that by the time I eat it, it won't go past that initial "oh, this egg was produced in a place where the male chickens still function, and where the chickens run around doing what chickens do."

There's no reason to cook them separately, or worry about eating a fertilized egg, and, in fact, some folk pay a premium for the chance that their eggs may BE fertile.

4
61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 26, 2011
at 06:27 PM

The presence of blood specks doesn't relate to fertility, unless you can see an actual embryo. The way to tell if an egg is fertilized is to look at the blastoderm--it will be well pronounced in a fertile egg and have a fuzzy shape in unfertile eggs.

Basically, crack the egg, look for a little white spot on the yolk. If it has the appearance of a target (with bullseye and rings) it's fertile. If it just looks cloudy, it's infertile.

I raise chickens, and see specks of blood in unfertile eggs in about 1 out of every 5 eggs. Commercial egg packers 'candle' the eggs to look for blood specks and won't put those in egg cartons--they go to egg-beaters or other processed egg lines. The blood specks are fine and disappear when you cook the egg. If there's a big fleck, it can be kind of gross, and we usually pick it out with a fork or dump that egg in the trash.

3
F3e312545761ab663e37e6c2d5c831ea

(1049)

on September 26, 2011
at 05:23 PM

If they eat balut in the Philippines (essentially, embryonic ducks directly from the egg), you can eat a one day gestation chicken egg with no issues. Nothing passes through the shell, after all, so no matter what's inside the egg, the same atoms are there.

2
Df37dee1b45f564770863d8a74016cbe

(1035)

on September 26, 2011
at 11:48 PM

Akman is right. Blood spots (also called meat spots) are not blastoderm cells. They happen more often with well-exercised and active hens, and the spot is shed by the hen's reproductive tract when the yolk detaches (sometimes a little early due to the activity level). I have a small egg-laying flock. They run, jump, and fly. We get lots of eggs with blood spots. Doesn't affect the taste or texture of the egg, at all. I actually like to see them, because it tells me the hen that laid the egg was healthy and active.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on September 26, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Blood specks in eggs tend to come from younger chickens who are just getting started laying.

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