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Thin egg shells?

I usually get eggs from a neighbor and occasionally from a farm in the area. When supplies are low I will grab pick them up at my local chain grocery. The shell on this eggs run from hard to really hard. They always need a good whack to crack them.

Yesterday I picked up a dozen from Traders Joes. They are labeled Grade A, Omega 3, Cage Free, Extra Large. This AM I went to crack one as I always do and the shell practically disintegrated! The egg ended up all over the counter so I grabbed another and gently cracked it and the same thing almost happened. Looking at the it the shells they are they paper thin. I have never seen shells this thin. What would cause them to be so thin?

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  1. Lack of a source of calcium in the feed. Bone meal will fix the problem.

    Or they are feasting on a DDT contaminated area.

    3 Replies

      YUCK!! Cross Trader Joe's eggs of my list…

      1. re: foodieX2

        It is probably just because you are used to cracking the homegrown eggs. I seriously doubt that the cage free chickens laying Trader Joe eggs are roaming about eating DDT.

      2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        DDT can cause that, but I would be very surprise this is the cause. I am guessing lack of calcium.

      3. I've read something about eggs laid by older hens tend to be larger and have thinner shells.. If so, the fact that the TJ eggs were extra-large may account for the thinner shells. Years ago I used to get the larger size from TJ, and had to check them carefully for breakage. At the time I attributed that to tighter fit in the carton. But shell thinness might have been part of the problem.

        3 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Good point about the size, I never buy xl's. I take what I can get from the neighbors and at the grocers I usually buy large because that seems to be standard for cage free at these stores. TJ's was low on eggs and only had the big ones.

          1. re: paulj

            I have one older hen that occasionally lays an egg without a shell at all. They usually are broken in the nest but sometimes the membrane holds it together long enough for me to retrieve it.

            1. re: kengk

              Wow, that must have been a surprise that first time you discovered one of those!

          2. I buy my eggs from Trader Joe's (in Brooklyn, NY), not extra large but large because that's what recipes are mostly based on. The shells aren't hard to break - I don't want them to be! - but they don't disintegrate either like the ones you describe. I always check every egg of the dozen for breakage and have never found a broken egg at Trader Joe's, so they don't seem to be unduly fragile.

            1. Thin shells = unhealthy bird or lousy farming conditions.

              6 Replies
                    1. re: kengk

                      Subject sampling matters. If all you test are commercial producer eggs, garbage in equals garbage out.

                      1. re: mcf

                        That doesn't make any sense.

                      2. re: kengk

                        "Thumbnail Summary
                        Egg weight contributed to only 5% of the increased number of thin shelled eggs between 36 and 66 weeks of age. As the hens grew older, eggs of all sizes become thin shelled. When investigating thin shelled egg problems, it is often necessary to look beyond."

                1. Thin shells are mostly caused by a lack of/not enough of calcium in the diet. Most commercial layer feeds have added calcium to help prevent calcium loss in the birds. Other factors can contribute...stress, age, general health etc. Owners of small back yard flocks often provide ground oyster shell 24/7 to add additional calcium. Even then, occasionally I will pick up a thin shell egg.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    Respiratory disease and stressful conditions (both typical of factory farms) are two of the three most common causes of thin shells, with calcium and vit D deficiency on most veterinary and poultry expert sites.

                    I've been amazed at the hardness of the shells of the fully pastured eggs I've been buying, even compared to "cage free" and "free range" labeled eggs.

                    1. I cracked another one today and even though gentle the shell did the same thing. I could easily push my finger thru it.

                      To everyone who feel that TJ's eggs must have thin shells due to poor either poor diets/nutrition, unhealthy bird and/or bad farming conditions if you had bought them, would you return them?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: foodieX2

                        I have no doubt that these eggs are thinner shelled than what you have been getting from a neighbor. However; they seem to have thick enough shells to have survived gathering, washing, sorting, packaging, shipping to the distributor, shipping to the store and from there to your kitchen. I tend to think they are probably within the range of normal. For "garbage" commercial eggs anyway.

                        1. re: kengk

                          It such a shame that they can be labeled a cage free, vegetarian diet, etc and still be considered "garbage" commercial eggs. I feel very lucky that I rarely have to buy them.

                          1. re: foodieX2

                            I was being sarcastic. As a hobbyist chicken farmer I don't think there is anything wrong with commercial eggs.

                            I'm not convinced that typical cage free operations are any more humane that well run battery cages. Also, chickens are not naturally vegetarian so I'm dismayed that people want vegetarian chicken eggs.

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              Cage free does not mean they get outside aren't crowded into barns without sunlight or fresh air. It just means they're crammed into a shed with other birds instead of a cage. :-/ Often enough.

                              Use this guide if you're concerned: http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg...

                          2. re: foodieX2

                            Nah, I just wouldn't ever buy their eggs again. Honestly, they're so cheap, I knew they had to be bottom of the barrel.

                          3. this is an issue that goes back decades.

                            can't remember when the farm stand where we got our eggs was sold (probably sometime in the mid-to-late-60s), but even back then, my mother complained about how thin the supermarket egg shells were by comparison.

                            1. I have often cut myself under the fingernail when prying open the hard-to-crack, but delicious, pastured brown eggs from the local poultry farm. I also get supermarket and TJ's eggs and find the latter to be midway in overall quality, and shell thickness, between local and supermarket.