Tips for Collecting Chicken Eggs
Whether you’re new to maintaining a backyard flock or simply have a few questions about regularly collecting chicken eggs, these tips from Purina will help you get the most out of your flock’s egg production.
The decision to refrigerate eggs or leave them on the counter should be made based on if you’ve washed your farm fresh eggs or not. Unwashed eggs have a protective layer called a cuticle and can be stored on the counter. Washing eggs removes the cuticle; therefore, washed eggs should be refrigerated to prevent contamination. Read on for more egg storage tips and FAQs about farm fresh eggs!
There’s palpable excitement when it comes to your laying hens producing their first eggs. How many eggs will be in the coop? What will they look like?
But, as eggs are produced, new questions come to mind. How often do chickens lay eggs? Why are my chickens eating eggs? Is washing chicken eggs necessary? And, do eggs need to be refrigerated?
Get answers to these frequently asked questions (and more):
How often do chickens lay eggs?
If you’re wondering, “how often do chickens lay eggs?”, you’re not alone! It’s a common question when you’re new to egg production.
You can collect about one egg per hen per day when egg production is in full swing. And, from hen to hen, egg-laying schedules vary. Some hens lay in the morning while others lay later in the day.
Whether you are eating or hatching eggs, it is important to collect eggs regularly and store them properly. Gather eggs two to three times per day, at a minimum once in the morning and evening. Collect even more often during extremely warm or cold weather. The frequent collection helps keep eggs clean and reduces the chance for egg cracking due to hen traffic in the nests.
Always discard eggs with noticeable cracks because cracks can allow bacteria to enter the egg. Cracks can also result from an inadequate diet.
Safe eggs start with strong shells. To form strong egg shells and maintain bone strength, laying hens need 4 grams of calcium each day, all of which must come from their chicken feed. Maintain egg strength and hen health by feeding a complete layer feed like Purina® Layena®, Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 or Purina® Organic layer pellets or crumbles. These feeds include the Oyster Strong® System, which provides all of the calcium laying hens need – no need to supplement.
Why are my chickens eating eggs?
Wondering how to stop chickens from eating eggs? Start by collecting chicken eggs on a regular schedule.
Egg eating generally occurs when a hen finds a broken egg, tastes it, likes it and begins searching for other broken eggs. Hens can even learn to break them intentionally. Collecting chicken eggs frequently can help prevent hens from eating their eggs.
If you notice your chickens eating eggs, first find the culprit. Look for remnants of the egg yolk on the skin and feathers around a hen’s head and beak. Consider separating the culprit hen from the flock to avoid other hens picking up the learned habit.
Here are more tips for how to help stop chickens from eating eggs:
- Place ceramic eggs, wooden eggs or golf balls in the nest.
- Blow out an egg and refill it with mustard. When the hen cracks into the egg, the mustard serves as a deterrent from eating other eggs.
- Provide an alternative place to peck, such as a Purina® Flock Block® supplement.
Is washing chicken eggs necessary? Do eggs need to be refrigerated?
There are valid points for both washing and not washing chicken eggs, so it comes down to personal preference. But, you’ll have to store the eggs differently depending on which one you pick.
Unwashed eggs have a protective layer called a cuticle and can be stored on the counter. This protective coating helps keep bacteria out. Washing eggs removes the cuticle. As a result, washed eggs must be refrigerated to prevent contamination.
If you choose to go with washing chicken eggs, follow these guidelines:
- Be gentle and quick, using water only. Water should be warmer than the egg.
- Brush any foreign material off the shell with your finger or a soft brush.
- Remove any signs of manure from the shell, since feces can harbor bacteria which can get into the egg.
- Dry and cool eggs as quickly as possible and then refrigerate between 32- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit.
Refrigerated farm fresh eggs can last up to 45 to 60 days when kept at the proper temperature.
If I’m hatching eggs, how should I store them before incubating?
If you’re collecting chicken eggs and storing for incubation later, wash any foreign material off the shell and refrigerate at 55 degrees Fahrenheit with 70-75% humidity. Store eggs with the narrow end pointing down for a maximum of one week prior to incubation. The older a fertilized egg is, the less likely it is to hatch. Store eggs at an angle and change the angle once a day. This will keep the yolk from sticking to the side of the egg and help the developing embryo stay safe before hatching.
Let the eggs warm to room temperature when you’re ready to incubate. Then, give the eggs to a broody hen or place in an incubator. After eggs have been stored and incubated, 70% hatchability is considered very good.
Want strong shells? Sign up for the Feed Greatness® Challenge and get a $5 off coupon for Purina® layer feeds*.
*The Feed Greatness® Challenge is a 90-day feeding trial where you will feed Purina® feed, monitor your flock’s performance and health, take pictures and receive emails with helpful information.