We get more than our fair share of double yolk eggs on our homestead.
The funny thing about them is they always seem like a gift (most eggs do!), although they’re technically something that hens shouldn’t be laying regularly.
I get many emails from you guys about your abnormal eggs, and double yolkers are usually on the list!
It’s amazing to see them—they’re usually much larger than other eggs.
While many certainly look like they might hurt the hen to lay, most hens get through the experience perfectly fine.
It’s always fascinating to crack a large egg open, and find that instead of one, normal, yolk, there’s two!
You can also never be too sure what you’ll get with them.
Just a few weeks ago, a reader emailed me telling me about their double yolk egg. One yolk was a normal yellow color, but the other was purple!
Now, you might be wondering what the deal is with double yolk eggs.
Although they might contribute to egg binding and it’s possible large double yolk eggs might tear your hen’s vent a bit as she lays them, for the most part, double yolk eggs aren’t much to worry about!
As long as your hen is laying regularly and without difficultly, she likely is perfectly healthy even if she does pop out a double yolker every so often.
What are double yolk eggs?
Double yolk eggs are single eggs that happen to have two yolks in them. They happen when a hen releases one yolk too soon after a prior one, and both become encased in the same egg.
Hens are born with about 4,000 ovum (the yolks), and they don’t produce anymore during their lives. So, the total amount of eggs a hen can lay is determined from birth.
Although hens usually release a yolk between 30 and 75 minutes after she lays, sometimes, things don’t go as planned, and she releases two at roughly the same time.
Both yolks then go through the rest of the egg-making process together, and become encased in a single shell. This causes double yolk eggs.
It frequently happens with chickens that are bred for high egg production, such as Production Reds and Black Sex Links, although any hen has the potential to release more than one ovum at the same time.
Double yolk eggs can also happen with new layers who systems haven’t quite adjusted to producing eggs, so they release two ovum together.
In these cases, the hen’s body usually adjusts to the new influx of hormones quickly, and she then starts laying eggs with a single yolk, never to lay another double yolker again.
Because of there are two yolks in them, double yolk eggs tend to be larger than their normal counterparts. (Ducks can lay double yolk eggs too, by the way).
Are double yolk eggs safe to eat?
Of course! They’re no different than regular eggs, there’s just two yolks in them.
Scramble them for breakfast or fry them over easy (or try one of my 50 egg recipes). They will taste and be just as nutritious as regular eggs.
Should I be worried about my hen’s health?
Although they’re really nothing to be concerned about, double yolk eggs can lead to issues of egg binding or tearing of the vent because of their size.
However, there’s not much you can do to prevent these types of eggs.
They just naturally happen, and usually the hen is perfectly fine after laying one (although you might want to give her a pat for managing to pass the egg!).
Can I find them at the grocery store?
Because grocery store eggs go through a detailed inspection process that makes sure all eggs from industrial farms are pretty uniform, you’re unlikely to get any double yolkers at the market.
If your local store sells farm fresh eggs, however, you might very well come across one or two double yolk eggs eventually.
In Europe, they’re becoming so popular, that some manufacturers are selling cartons containing only enormous eggs containing two yolks.
In this case, the hens that lay the eggs are bred and selected to only lay double yolk eggs.
There’s some controversy that these hens lead shorter egg-laying lives, and possibly have decreased lifespans because of their breeding (although I should mention that Europe has better animal welfare laws than the US has.)
Researchers have studied hens to determine the best way to feed layers, and part of the study considered whether double yolk eggs might require feeding hens differently.
Can they be incubated?
Yes, but I wouldn’t bother trying to hatch double yolk eggs. Because there’s just usually not enough space, oxygen, and nutrients to keep both embryos alive until hatching, most attempts fail.
There are stories of successful hatches, but they are few and far between.
It would be irresponsible to try to hatch the egg, only to have the embryos die before hatching because there wasn’t, for example, enough oxygen.
Enjoying your double yolkers at breakfast and sharing the photos on Facebook is a more productive and healthier way to celebrate them!
Is there a double yolk egg superstition?
There’s actually a few. In many cultures, they’re considered good luck, while the Norse believed that they were a bad omen.
These days, some people believe that if you find a double yolker in your coop, it means you or someone close to you will have twins.
Double yolk eggs are an exciting part of chicken ownership that you’ll likely encounter with your backyard flock. If you do happen to get one (or maybe a dozen), consider yourself lucky!
Nayara T. Ferreira, Nilva K. Sakomura, Juliano César de Paula Dorigam, Edney Pereira da Silva, and Robert M. Gous. “Modelling the egg components and laying patterns of broiler breeder hens.” Animal Production Science, April 10, 2015.
Rae Ellen Bichell. “Why The U.S. Chills Its Eggs And Most Of The World Doesn’t.” NPR.org, September 11, 2014.
Attila Salamon and John P. Kent. “Triple-yolked eggs in domestic ducks: a rare occurrence.” Poultry Science, December 1, 2015.
Jacquie Jacob and Tony Pescatore. “Avian Female Reproductive System.” University of Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service, November, 2013.
I’d like to hear from you!
Have you ever found double yolk eggs in your coop? Leave a comment below!