Most chicken coops are not the cleanest places on earth. They're full of dirt, poop, and things your eyes can't see: bacteria.
If you don't clean and store your eggs right, they could bring nasty bugs into your kitchen and could harm your other foods and your health. For that reason, follow this guide to make sure your eggs are safe to eat.
Collecting your fresh eggs from the coop
Check your wooden chicken coop at least twice a day for eggs. Once in the morning, and once in the evening. For larger flock, you may want to check at least three times a day.
But why that often?
Eggs are fragile and bacteria can easily enter the skin if there's the slightest crack on it. The longer you leave them, the higher possibility of your eggs becoming cracked.
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But that's not the only reason.
Your own chickens may eat them. Chickens, like humans, like to eat eggs (yes, even their own!). This can become a bad habit for your hens…they'll eat the egg as soon as its layed.
You also don't want your eggs to get poopy, even if you can clean them. Most chicken coops are not the cleanest places on earth. They're full of dirt, poop, and things your eyes can't see: bacteria.
Leaving eggs will attract predators like rats, dogs or cats. They know eggs can’t run, unlike chickens, your eggs are the easiest meal for them.
When it comes to collecting your eggs, just take a container big enough to your coop and put the eggs inside it. Although you may not have a lot of eggs yet, it's important to know that you shouldn't stack your eggs more than 5 layers high because it'll increase the chance of breakage.
Cleaning the eggs
Eggs naturally have a coating that protects it from bacteria. When you wash the egg it washes off this protective coating so your eggs won’t keep fresh as long. That's why it isn't necessary to wash the egg. Well, actually it's better if you don't wash them until you're ready to use it. Unless you’ve got dirt or poop on them, like these:
- If it's not that dirty, you only have to wipe them with a dry cloth.
- If you wash your eggs (because it's too dirty or there's a poop stain or something), make sure you don't shift the temperature drastically — from cold to hot, or the otherwise — to prevent cracking.
Speaking of cleanliness, there are two other factors:
Your hens and their coop. If the layers themselves are dirty, their eggs will be most likely dirty too. With that in mind, it's important to keep your hens and coop clean so your can eat your eggs safely.
Wash your hands! It’s also important to wash your hands after collecting eggs or handling your hens. Chicken coops often have lots of bacteria in them that can make you really sick!
Storing your eggs
You don't have to store your fresh eggs in a fridge. They will be fine at normal room temperatures. Unless, of course, you washed your eggs; if you wash your eggs, you should store them in a refrigerator or you should use them right away.
The number one rule of storing eggs (and any food really) is first in first out. Meaning, the first one in must be the first one out. Always use older eggs first so you won't have bad eggs in your storage. When I have a lot of eggs I write the date on each one, this way I know when each egg was laid.
A maximum time to store an egg is 5 weeks, no more than that. Although it's better to just eat it before 5 weeks old.
If you lose track of how old your eggs are, here's a way to tell if they are safe to eat… float them on water:
Want to learn more about hens?
Take a look at our blog Best Boredom Busters to keep your chickens busy