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Sizing up eggs

Egg size isn't determined by dimensions
Photo courtesy of University of Nebraska

When you go to the grocery store and buy a carton of eggs, do you pay attention to the size? Maybe you open it to find some eggs are bigger than others, even though the carton is labeled as “medium”.

David Frame is an extension poultry specialist at Utah State University. He says eggs are sized not individually, but based on ounces-per-dozen.

"So when you go into the store and you see large eggs, that’s 24-ounces per-dozen. Extra-large eggs would weigh 27-ounces per-dozen, and medium eggs would weigh 21-ounces per-dozen," says Frame. "They’re the three main weights that you normally see in retail stores."

There are many factors that go into what size of egg a chicken will lay, and backyard chicken owners may be surprised to find a whole gamut of sizes from their birds. Frame says it depends on the breed, the age of the bird, its weight, a pullet versus a hen, and even environmental conditions.

If you’re making a recipe that calls for one large egg and you only have small, it’s not going to matter much. But when the recipe calls for multiple eggs, you’ll have to make adjustments. For example, four small eggs are equal to three large ones.

Sometimes when I crack open an extra-large egg, there are two yolks in it. Those eggs are usually laid by a pullet when she first comes into production.
 
"The ovary, instead of depositing one ovum, or what will become the egg yolk into the oviduct which forms the egg, it actually drops two of them. And then of course the albumen and material gets around those two yolks and they’re treated as basically one egg," says Frame. "Then when they go down into the shell gland, the shell is formed and they come out as a large egg, and usually they’re kind of oblong-shaped too."

Learn more:

How egg sizes measure up

Use this chart for cooking with eggs when they're all different sizes

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