“To wash or not to wash” seems to be a big question when it comes to farm fresh eggs. Some people prefer them washed; others (like me) prefer their eggs untouched. I’m often asked how I clean my freshly harvested eggs, but truth is, I don’t. They go straight from the hens hiney, to the nesting box, then to the egg cartons. No cleaning in between. When you have a flock of 50 hens (and counting, yikes),
there is no time to wash 5 dozen eggs each day. When hens lay eggs, they produce and coat the eggs with a protective layer called “bloom”. The bloom acts as a barrier and seals the shell so air, viruses, and other harmful bacteria cannot penetrate the eggs surface. When eggs are washed the bloom is removed. This opens up the shell pores and allows all the harmful stuff to enter the shell and contaminate the egg. This ultimately decreases the “shelf-life” of the egg significantly. This means, clean eggs from the start eliminates all the risk of jeopardizing the bloom.
With all this being said, I do recommend that you wash your eggs with luke warm water at the time of use to ensure that they are 100% clean before putting them in your dish. Today, I’d like to share a few ways that I ensure that I am able to collect clean eggs straight from the nesting box every time.
Have enough nesting boxes for everyone – Rule of thumb is to have one nesting box per four laying hens in your flock. I have fifty hens and thirteen nesting boxes. Enough room to go around!
Nesting boxes are not a place for sleeping – Once in a while you will find a chicken nested down in the box to sleep for the night. When you close your coop up in the evening, check all your nesting boxes to make sure no one is camping out in them. If you find a chicken inside, simply pick them up and move them to the roost.
Tidy up the Nesting boxes each day, or as needed – After you gather your eggs for the day, run back through the boxes and remove any feathers, poop, or other debris you may find that will compromise the cleanliness of your eggs.
Remove broody hens from the boxes – Broody hens will almost always try to live in the nesting boxes. It is okay to let the broodiness run its course, but be sure to pull the broody hens out of the box each day to let them “use the restroom” and to get a bite to eat and drink.
Change your bedding at least once a month – At the beginning of each month, I suggest striping all the old nesting material out of the boxes & replacing it with new. Kiln dried pine shavings are a great option for bedding. I prefer to stay away from using straw in my nesting boxes and my coop because it is more difficult to clean & the shaft of the straw makes a perfect place for parasites to reside, including poultry mites. Adding a touch of food grade Diatomaceous Earth along with a sprinkle of dried herbs in each nesting box helps keeps pests away. I also feel that adding these things encourages all the ladies to lay.
I hope that you make the most out of the tips I have provided and you are able to collect your cleanest eggs yet! Clean eggs are the most egg-citing ones to collect and what more could a chicken parent want, right? Happy collecting, friends!