Egg Size Really Does Matter November 4, 2015

The lovely array of available chicken breeds lay a rainbow of colors for backyard chicken keepers’ egg baskets. The feeling you get from gifting a dozen eggs to a friend and the moment they open it to see colors they didn’t think were possible (outside of egg dying) is gratifying. These yummy little orbs make anyone’s meal or baked good extra special… when added to a recipe as suggested of course! but you know what? Egg size really does matter, too.

A mix of a dozen colorful chicken eggs.

A mix of a dozen colorful chicken eggs.

When you go to the grocery store and see egg size listed on cartons, what does that truly mean? For your recipe, should you use three medium eggs, two large eggs or a jumbo!? Modern recipes typically don’t mention egg size at all. Your recipe may just call for 2 eggs. They are usually referring to large eggs, and if you don’t use those it will affect the outcome of your baking.

Having backyard chickens, in a dozen varieties not only means a plethora of colors but so many sizes as well. No two eggs are truly equal (even though they are all equally delicious!).

The good news is that there really is an official range for egg size! When the grocery store sells you large eggs (or extra-large eggs) they weigh the eggs carefully before packaging so you have no doubt about egg size. But when you collect your own backyard eggs, how do you know what egg size you have?

Well, first you can check our website. Our Chicken Breed List lists the average egg size for each breed (as well as breed history, cold hardiness, egg color , personality and so on). Average size however is just that. I have large egg layers in my flock, but sometimes their eggs are borderline Medium, and occasionally I’m blessed with an Extra-Large!

Here I want to show you just how close the difference is with the weight of an egg and what it is categorized as. Weight is determined with shell on the egg.

Bantam Cochin Egg - Small Size

Bantam Cochin Egg – Small Size

Small Egg size – 1.5 Ounces or less (also sometimes called bantam size)

I usually save these for scrambles eggs or anything not related to a specific recipe where you’re not supposed to taste the eggs. I have lots of bantams so we see small eggs often. Here’s a great discussion about how to cook with bantam eggs. If you do choose to use them in recipes (how many bantam eggs do I use when a recipes calls for two regular eggs?), there is even a conversion chart  in our book, the My Pet Chicken Handbook.

Black Copper Maran- Medium Egg

Black Copper Maran- Medium Egg

Medium Egg size – 1.75 ounces

I get this size occasionally from the my large egg layers. Especially my Marans and Welsummer vary up and down on egg size often.

Large Egg Lavender Orpington

Large Egg Lavender Orpington

Large Egg size – 2 ounces

My Lavender Orpington generally lays this size, she’s been slightly over when the spring season starts. This is still close enough to call large.

Extra-Large Egg Olive Egger

Extra-Large Egg Olive Egger

Extra-Large Egg size – 2.25 ounces

I’ve been really impressed that our Olive Egger has been laying an Extra-Large egg since she started laying without skimping on size at all. In fact, I do occasionally get a JUMBO egg from her, too!

Jumbo Egg size

Jumbo Egg

 Jumbo Egg size – 2.5 ounces and over

The egg above was laid by a duck. Recently my layers have not left me anything this large in the nesting boxes.

Now, the next time a recipe asks for a large egg, you know what you can use. Using a Jumbo in place of medium really can affect a recipe in a negative way. I hope you feel ready to tackle many new recipes asking for odd-sized eggs.

Do you have a chicken that lays a special egg size regularly or is unexpected for the breed?

2 Comments
Jacque Cloud November 1st, 2016

I need help, I have free range hens, we supplement feed with wheat. My husband is not crazy about the strong protein smell that the eggs give off, I notice it when I crack the eggs and its there when we cook them also. any suggestions? we have many roosters around could they be the problem or are free range eggs just taste different is it similar to dark meat vrs white meat and the taste wild . I collect the eggs quickly and they are refrigerated quickly.

Lissa November 1st, 2016

Free range eggs do generally taste eggier, but it shouldn’t be unpleasant. Most people prefer the taste. The eggs are healthier, too, with less fat and more vitamins than eggs laid by hens who don’t have access to pasture. That said, there are some sorts of feed (and some weeds) that can cause eggs to have a fishy flavor, though. You might see if the smell persists if you drop the supplements… or if your birds are without access to green pasture, like during the winter.

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