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Fishy taste in eggs

 
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Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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How do I get rid of a fishy taste in my eggs?  There's no fish meal in the layer pellets (I get it from a local producer and just called).  No flax either.  It's not all eggs.  We have a mix of chickens with several versions of Wyandottes, Jersey Giants, Austrolorpes, Welsummers, Barnevelders, and Black Copper Marans.  3 of the Austrolorpes are 3.5 years old, the rest of the chickens are 8 months old.  They get to free range most of the day, and they get lots of scrap veggies of a random mix.  No onions, avocados, or potatoes.  Don't usually give them much meat.

Ideas?
 
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The fishy taste is a by-product of a diet rich in omega-3s. The eggs are high in omega-3s too which is good healthwise, but maybe not so good taste wise.

https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/do-your-eggs-taste-fishy-its-the-curse-of-the-omegas/
 
pollinator
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Yes that weird/gamey/fish taste is a sign that your eggs are actually healthy.
I think that maybe some of your chickens are foraging (bugs/worms/critter) alot and finding things to eat that result in healthier eggs, while some of the other chickens are not foraging as much.
 
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I suggest a nice scoop of whole corn every morning before they go foraging.
I also noticed your location and are you close enough to the coast to smell the ocean. If so then the plants probably absorb more of that taste than normal.
Most likely you will eventually find the taste normal to your liking.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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Lorne Martin wrote:I suggest a nice scoop of whole corn every morning before they go foraging.
I also noticed your location and are you close enough to the coast to smell the ocean. If so then the plants probably absorb more of that taste than normal.
Most likely you will eventually find the taste normal to your liking.



Not really that close to the ocean (or even the Puget Sound).  It's a solid 12+ miles as the crow flies to the nearest salt water.  Granted my sense of smell is quite poor, but even visitors from a long ways away from any oceans never comment on being able to smell the salt water.
 
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I ended up having the same thing with my duck eggs https://permies.com/t/42023/critters/Taste-Duck-Meat-Eggs. For me, it was how I was washing them! Once I started washing in hot versus cold water, the fishy taste went away.


But, before I figured that out, I learned a bunch about what causes the flavor. Here's a quote from my thread:

The first person I talked to at Scratch and Peck ended up referring me to their animal diet expert, and she explained a bit more about what was going on with the flavor. Here's what I understand so far. The fishy taste and smell comes from trimethylamine, which is caused by the oxidization of choline. When a fish rots--and it's choline oxidizes--the lovely rotten fish smell of trimethylamine comes about. Foods that contain high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids--such as oils and meals derived from fish, linseed, camelina, and rapeseed--also have choline. And, when a bird digests that choline via bacterial fermentation in their guts, trimethylamine is created. Many (most?) poultry can convert the trimethylamine in their livers into a nonodorous form. Others, such as 5-10% chickens that lay brown eggs, and supposedly my ducks as well, cannot convert the trimethylamine in their livers. So, that delightful off flavor is passed onto my duck eggs (and meat as well). In the case of the chickens (couldn't find anything about ducks), there is actually a gene responsible for their ability/inability to transform the trimethylamine, and you can actually get your chicken tested to see if it has the desirable gene or not. You can also, supposedly, smell their breath. Those with fishy breath cannot do the transformation.

There's also things that can make it more difficult for poultry's livers to process the trimethylamine. The tannins in rapeseed and linseed interfere with the liver's ability to transform it to it's nonodorous form. Wheat, barley and leguminous plants help the gut ferment more choline into trimethylamine.

ASIDE from the trimethylamine issue, the fishy-flavor can be caused simply by polyunsaturated acids (such as linseed and fish oil).

Here's the sources I used for wrapping my brain around this: Wikipedia on Trimethylamine, Omega 3 Fatty Acid Research, pages232&233, ISA Genetics, "'Fishy' Taint in Brown Eggs ", and Do Your Eggs Taste Fishy, Curse of the Omegas

So, my eggs are fishy because my ducks eat lots of Omega-3 rich foods, and cannot transform some of the compounds into non-stinky forms. I wonder if, by fermenting their feed, I am helping pre-digest that choline into a non-odorous form? Also, wonderful woman at Scratch and Peck (who pointed many of the above research out to me), said that she noticed that poultry that get lots of water are less likely to have the fishy taint, and that she tastes it the most in poultry during the summer heat when they aren't drinking as much. This makes a lot of sense, really, since water likely really helps the liver function.

She also suggested that I could cut back on their feed and substitute about 1/3rd of their feed for scratch (such as a mix of barley, wheat and oats), and that reducing the amount of omega 3s should reduce the fishy flavor. I almost wonder, since the transformation from stinky to not-stinky form of trimethylamine takes place in their livers, if having too much is actually taxing to their livers?

 
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The fishy taste is genetic, and is not affected by diet. A chicken without the gene eating the same diet won't produce the same taste.  It is caused by the conversion of omega 3 into trimethylamine. Usually isa reds and other brown egg layers.  I've personally only experienced it with isa reds. The only solution is a genetically diverse flock.
 
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Lorne Martin wrote:I suggest a nice scoop of whole corn every morning before they go foraging.
I also noticed your location and are you close enough to the coast to smell the ocean. If so then the plants probably absorb more of that taste than normal.
Most likely you will eventually find the taste normal to your liking.



I would not feed any bird whole corn, if the crop misses a full grind of all kernels they will swell in the stomach and if there are enough mostly whole kernels in there, the stomach explodes, killing the bird.
At many of the feed mills I used to have to inspect when with the USDA, there would be dead pigeons all over the place, examination of the corpses showed their guts had exploded and the grain that caused it was whole kernel corn.
Pigeons also have good crops, so if whole kernels of corn can do that to them.
 
Lorne Martin
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I have to disagree on your whole corn comment Bryant Redhawk.
I have raised hobby chickens for more than 50 years and in the cold months whole corn is always part of the diet. Never lost a bird from that and have always had more than 50% laying even in -20 degree temperatures.
The reason it works so well is because it is hard to digest thus increasing the birds metabolism and vitality.
Corn is there favorite treat by far.
Also in my early days we raised common barn pigeons as our pets. Probably had about 50 birds. Kept production records and daily journal. Whole corn was always at least 30% of their diet. Never had exploding stomachs.
If you in fact diagnose the problem accurately as whole corn related than maybe there were high levels of toxins which can be present in soggy spills.
 
pollinator
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The swelling corn kernal (or rice is often mentioned) is an old wives tale that just wont die. Lorne, I've hear intelligent, well educated people repeat it. Not that they are being stupid, its just not in their experience. It's just a case of parroting info outside their field of expertise.

Whole seeds don't swell up inside of an animal, be it a bird or something else, not even if swallowed whole. It may seem logical that it would happen, but it doesn't. An animal's insides simply aren't that warm and watery. During my years in veterinary medicine I have had scores of panicked owners fly into the clinic demanding immediate treatment, often asking for stomach pumping, because their dog ate birdseed, raw rice, raw sesame seeds, etc. It was very difficult convincing them that their pet would be fine. Most pet owners calmed down, but some left still in a panic. I'm sure they drove to the next vet hospital, had their pet admitted to be "treated" until the offending seeds passed in a stool movement...... whole and not swollen, although they weren't aware of that. I couldn't be so dishonest, but I've heard the stories being told at the veterinary meetings of cases just like this == easy money, happy owner, healthy dog, everything is fine except for the deceit.

The fact that the seeds don't get digested or changed can be a benefit. I've fed them to a group of dogs in order to determine who was the one pooping on the living room floor at night. One dog gets a spoonful of dogfood that had sesame seeds mixed in, the next dog had birdseed mixed in, the next had raw rice, and so on and so on. A look at the offending poop pile instantly tells you which dog left the pile in the middle of the carpet. Gotcha!!
 
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I also suggest a nice scoop of whole corn every morning before they go foraging.
 
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