Just as there are purebred dogs and purebred horses, there is also purebred poultry. Since its founding in 1877, the Poultry Club of Great Britain has been the main organization in the U.K. dedicated to safeguarding "all pure and traditional breeds" of chicken, ducks, geese and turkey.
So what makes an egg a national award winner?
Toddy Hamilton-Gould, the Poultry Club's spokesperson, says the winning eggs have an even color, a symmetrical shape and and a strong, smooth shell with no blemishes.
This year's winner, shown above, came from a Silkie hen, a Chinese breed known for having feathers that look almost like fur.
Hamilton-Gould emphasizes that the eggs are not judged on their taste. The Poultry Club wants to find eggs that are good for hatching chicks, she says, not for making an omelet. (But they sure look like they could do both.)
The club brings in judges, such as domestic waterfowl breeder Graham Hicks, shown above, to determine the winners.
In addition to being judged on shell shape and color, the eggs are split open using a pen knife to inspect their contents. Hamilton-Gould says the judges are looking for a fresh, firm yolk with a layered white and, obviously, no blood spots.
There's also a category for best decorated egg. This year's winner, shown below depicting an African goose, ready for its close up, was submitted by Sally Barnett.