Science Cabaret’s chicken lecture went over easy

Nov. 16, 2016

by Blaine Friedlander

(originally published in the Cornell Chronicle)

Jarra Jagne describes the chicken production cycle as Cornell student Marlie Lukach looks on at the Science Cabaret Nov. 15 at Coltivare restaurant.

Jarra Jagne describes the chicken production cycle as Cornell student Marlie Lukach looks on at the Science Cabaret Nov. 15 at Coltivare restaurant. Photo credit: Blaine Friedlander

Nobody flew the coop at the packed Nov. 15 Science Cabaret that featured Jarra Jagne, D.V.M. ’90, a senior extension associate at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, and Marlie Lukach ’20, talking chicken.

Jagne and Lukach offered technical details on the physiology of chickens, chick embryonic development, the wide variety of breeds and discussed the importance of 4-H – a New York statewide youth development program that Cornell manages.

Lukach described embryo development, explaining when poultry producers can see a heart beat (day 3), the first appearance of a beak (day 6) or when the yolk sac draws into the young chick’s body cavity (day 19).

Jagne provided a quick description of chicken parts, such as the comb, the wattle, the hock and nostril. She dove into the 25-hour process of how a yolk obtains an eggshell. The shell is made of calcium carbonate and the crowd learned that feeding ground oyster shells provides an “eggsellent” food source of calcium for the eggshell’s development.

Regular chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) have about 4,000 yolks in their ovaries, but a normal egg-producer only makes about 350 eggs in total before their production career is over, Jagne noted.