Curiosity Killed The Omelet

“You keep thinking like that and you are going to make yourself sick!”  -My Mom….my entire life.

She used this phrase whenever I asked a question about the world that she found difficult to answer or didn’t want to think about at all.  (It was the equivalent of another parent being asked why the sky is blue and responding, “Just because.”)

I once asked her, “Do chickens need to have sex with a rooster in order to lay eggs or do they lay them no matter what?”  My question was basically, are eggs created as a result of sex or do the chickens just pass eggs by themselves?  Her response, “I don’t know!  Why would you even think about that kind of thing?”  (Insert her warning about being making myself sick here.)

I felt it was a valid question to pose to her.  After all, she was raised on a farm and spent most of her life collecting eggs from their hen house.  When I was younger, I had collected eggs with her many times.  My grandmother would always check them to see if they had a chick growing inside before using them.  So it made sense to me that all eggs contained a chicken.

On a side note, they raised Guineas on their farm.  If you are unfamiliar with a Guinea.  Imagine a chicken-sized Velociraptor.  They were mean little creatures that weren’t scared of anything and hated everything.  I once saw a pack of them viciously attack my sister and that image continues to haunt my memories.  Mystery of why I have a phobia of small quick-moving creatures, solved!

Anyway, I asked my Mom to see if her husband knew the answer.  His response was to just laugh and say, “Who would even ask such a stupid question?!”

Me.  That’s who.

It started when I read an article that a woman is born with all of her “eggs”.  While men create sperm over the course of their lives, the female develops her eggs as an embryo.  I wondered if chickens were the same way and if their egg production was part of a cycle of releasing unfertilized eggs or if it was the act of giving birth to a baby chicken each time?

Luckily the internet isn’t as concerned about my health as my Mom and gladly gives answers to any questions I pose to it.

A rooster is necessary to lay a fertilized egg but a chicken will lay unfertilized eggs without a rooster present.

If you have ever been curious or even if you’ve never considered it…here is the answer.  (If you don’t want to know, then I suggest you stop reading now and enjoy a delicious omelet instead.)

A chicken is born with thousands of tiny ova, which are undeveloped yolks.  Once she has reached a certain age, she releases an ovum and it is surrounded by albumen (egg white), wrapped in membrane, and encased in a shell.  It takes about twenty-five hours for the process to be completed.

If the egg is fertilized, you have an “unhatched” chicken growing inside.  The yolk provides the nourishment necessary for the embryo to grow.  Which may explain why eating egg whites is healthier than eating the yolk of an egg.

I find that fascinating!

And also quite disturbing.  Now that I know I am actually eating chicken ovum for breakfast, it doesn’t really sit well with my stomach.  Maybe my Mom was right and asking those kinds of questions can make me sick after all.

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