Do Your Eggs Taste a Little…Fishy?

Learn the cause & what you can do to fix it



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Eggs Tasting Fishy? What’s The Cause & What To Do

Have you ever sat down to a beautiful egg breakfast, taken that first bite, and noticed something a little fishy? That’s right, it’s possible your hens are laying eggs that are, quite literally, fishy. Eggs that smell and taste like fish are a common problem among backyard flocks.

So what is the cause of this unpleasant smell or taste? Is it a bad egg? What does one look like?

Take a closer look at what gives eggs their unique flavor with your backyard chicken experts at Star Milling Co.

The Good, The Smelly, and Omega-3’s

Are Fishy Tasting Eggs Bad?

At the first taste of something fishy, many backyard coop enthusiasts may wonder “Are my eggs bad?”. This isn’t an unfair question; eggs that taste and smell like fish are a pretty alarming discovery! Rest assured, there’s nothing rotten about these eggs. In fact, the culprit is actually good for you: Omega-3’s.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 is a fatty acid that is essential, meaning the body cannot produce it but must consume it from food.  Omega-3’s are associated with healthier brains and hearts, improved mood, reduced joint pain, and healthier skin and hair.  They may also play a role in protecting against heart disease and cancer.

Basically, Omega-3 fatty acids are an excellent source of nutrition!

You can even find special Omega-3 eggs on store shelves. Other foods high in this fabulous good-for-you-fat include leafy greens, nuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, certain animal fats, and fish.  That’s right; when it comes to sources of Omega-3’s, fish reigns supreme.

Why Do My Fresh Eggs Taste Fishy?

There are two factors that can cause fishy tasting eggs – nutrition and genetics. When your chickens consume feed that is high in Omega-3’s, they produce eggs that are also high in this key nutrient. Though Omega-3’s are wonderful, healthy fats, they do have a dark side – they can smell and taste like fish, regardless of their source. Too much of a good thing means a fishy after taste that’s anything but part of a balanced breakfast.

Another possible cause of fishy tasting eggs is genetics. Normally, when a hen eats her feed, her liver produces an enzyme that deodorizes the fishiness of the Omega-3’s in her diet.  However, some hens have a defective gene that prevents enough of the enzyme from being produced.  This means the smelliness from the Omega-3’s in her feed get concentrated and deposited right into the yolk of her eggs where it ends up on the breakfast table.  You can thank her for the healthy fats, but they’ll come at a smelly cost!

Some research has shown that certain breeds of chickens, particularly brown egg layers, have a gene that converts fatty acids in their diet to compounds that smell fishy. Take a brown egg laying chicken and add some flax seed, fishmeal and canola oil and you have something fishy going on.

Fortunately, the problem of fishy eggs is easily preventable with a bit of dietary modification for your flock.

How Do I Prevent Fishy Smelling Chicken Eggs?

hen sitting on her nest of eggsIf you’ve noticed an unpleasant odor to your eggs, it may be time to change your hens’ diet.  Take a look at the list of ingredients on the feed tag.  Look for fishmeal, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola, or canola oil.  These are all ingredients high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Feeds that are too concentrated in these ingredients will often produce smelly eggs.  It’s critical for the health of your hens — and the taste of your breakfast — to feed a quality poultry diet that balances key nutrients appropriately.

Additionally, think about what extras you might be feeding your hens as snacks.  Treats like leafy vegetables, squash, and beans are high in Omega-3’s.  Each little snack can add up and can aggravate the problem of stinky eggs. Identify treats that are dense in essential fatty acids and limit these to extra special occasions. This should alleviate this issue. There are still plenty of snacks to feed your flock such as cracked corn, oatmeal, and even watermelon.

With a few simple backyard poultry hacks, you can begin enjoying healthier eggs without the unwelcome fishy taste or smell.

Visit our Poultry Care Corner for more great information about raising your flock.

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