TATAMAGOUCHE - Tatamagouche resident Jake Duggan recently found something very unexpected in the nest of one of his pet laying hens.
While carrying out his regular afternoon feeding and egg gathering routine the 12-year-old spied what he thought, at first glance, looked like a human finger sitting in a small pile of straw inside the coop.
"It was on the shelf part where the birds sit," Jake said, recalling the peculiar discovery.
"I was surprised when I saw it there and went into the house to get my parents."
After he scrambled to the house to tell them what he had found, his mother, April Duggan, was at first hesitant to believe him.
She thought her son had hatched a plot to tease her by saying there was something in the Hen Pen that looked like a human finger, so she went to investigate and found the deformed egg.
"It was long and skinny and had a tip on it just like a human fingernail," she said.
A Black Jersey Giant hen, one of four laying hens Jake cares for, laid the oblong brown-coloured egg.
From the time the hen arrived at the family's home last June it has produced
other unusual eggs, but nothing like the most recent curiosity.
"Right from the beginning it laid a lot of double yolk eggs," said Duggan, adding there have also been a number of very small eggs found in the coop, as well as eggs with very soft shells.
The scrambled egg was found just before the Christmas holiday and family members have been cracking many jokes, teasing Duggan about serving finger foods to guests.
Dr. Michelle Jendral, assistant professor of poultry science at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, said egg deformities are "perfectly normal" and can happen at anytime for a number of reasons such as stress, nutritional deficiencies or disease.
She said considering the size and appearance of Duggan's miss-shaped egg, it probably does not contain a yolk and was likely formed from tissue that sloughed off inside the oviduct.
"It probably came into that weird shape because in this case it didn't have the rounded structure of the yolk for albumin to form around it, I'm guessing," said Jendral.
She said the mark that resembles a fingernail is probably a build up of extra calcium being put on the shell if the hen retained it in the shell gland for longer than normal.
The striations on the shell most likely occurred as the egg rotated moving through the oviduct.