Raising chickens is a great way to have fresh eggs daily that you can enjoy and feed your family. These animals are not only a prolific food source, but they are also fun for your family to raise and enjoy. However, like all pets, chickens need to be cared for regularly, and you should be collecting their eggs daily.
What happens if you don’t collect your chicken’s eggs? Fresh eggs should be collected at least once a day, daily to ensure they are safe to eat. In no way should you allow eggs to sit in the nest boxes for several days. Eggs that are left for longer than one day are potentially inedible and should be thrown out.
To avoid being wasteful and guarantee that your eggs are safe, you should be collecting chicken eggs regularly. Eggs that are left in the nesting boxes can become cracked, pooped on, dirty, or simply not safe to eat.
If they are fertile, the embryo could even start developing if a hen has been sitting on them. If you are not willing to collect eggs routinely, then chickens are probably not the best choice for your family.
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Do You Have to Collect Chicken Eggs Daily?
Most people who own chickens do collect the eggs daily to guarantee they are fresh and safe to eat. While the number of times you have to collect eggs may differ from family to family, you should be going to your chicken coop at least once a day to gather eggs.
The seasons and general weather conditions can affect the safety of your eggs significantly; in fact, during very cold and very warm days, you should be collecting eggs more often.
Collecting Eggs in Winter
If you live in an area that has relatively cold winters, collecting eggs becomes even more important. Most hens actually slow down when it comes to egg-laying during these months, but they will still lay eggs. However, the chances of the eggs freezing during the winter is fairly high, especially if they are left outdoors for an extended period of time.
Eggs that are left in cold weather can freeze and crack, which requires them to be discarded. Also, when eggs freeze, then crack inside of the nesting box, they are susceptible to bacteria from the chickens which can enter the egg. Some chickens even go as far as eating the cracked eggs, which you will clearly want to throw out.
If you collect an egg that seems frozen but is not cracked, you can still eat it. Freezing will not change the consistency though certain dishes may not work with these eggs. However, for basic eating purposes simply thaw the eggs and eat like normal.
Collecting Eggs in Summer
In the perfect world, fresh eggs should be stored at room temperature or in a refrigerator. However, in the hot summer months, the outside temperatures far exceed this and can become risky. Eggs kept too warm can lose interior quality and can become dangerous to eat.
Also, if eggs are left at temperatures of 100 degrees or higher for too long, they can actually begin to develop into chicks. If you have a rooster in your flock, even an egg that is not being sat on can grow a chick in hot weather. Avoiding this means taking your eggs indoors as quickly as possible.
Other Reasons to Collect Eggs Daily
Of course, weather alone is not the only reason that you should collect your eggs daily. Ensuring your eggs are safe for consumption is key to having your own chickens. You do not want to feed your family unsafe eggs, which makes collecting them regularly key. Some simple reasons why taking the time to collect daily is important are:
- Bacteria buildup – Bacteria can be carried into even clean nest boxed by chickens, who may walk through poop or other substances and then step on the eggs. Bacteria is not visible, and you may not know if an egg has been compromised. The longer they are left in the nest boxes, the more likely the egg will get bacteria through the pores.
- Chickens will eat their eggs – As mentioned, some chickens will even eat their own eggs. In fact, you may have an issue where one or more of your chickens are purposely cracking and eating their own eggs. Regular removal avoids this issue or lessens it significantly.
- Breakage – Though eggs are pretty resilient, we have all dropped an egg and broke it at some point. When you leave eggs in the nest boxes too long, they are at risk of being stepped on, knocked out of the nest and broken, or even your hen laying a new egg on top of an old egg and cracking them. This not only makes them inedible to you but can encourage unwanted egg-eating behavior.
- Risk of predators – Leaving eggs around your coop can increase the chance of a predator entering the coop. Snakes are top predators of eggs – and you clearly do not want them in your coop. In some cases, snakes will attack your hens as well. In addition, raccoons, skunks, rats, opossums, and other animals can be attracted to the eggs.
When and How to Collect Chicken Eggs
Exactly how often you should collect your chicken eggs is very situational and differs based on the weather in your area. However, the safe bet is to collect your eggs at least twice daily. If the weather is exceptionally hot or cold, you should try to collect eggs three times that day.
On an average day, you will want to collect your eggs first thing in the morning, before 10 a.m. Start by collecting the eggs that do not have chickens sitting on them and then carefully lift the sitting hens and remove eggs. Each night before closing up your coop, you will want to collect any eggs that were laid throughout the day. If you get a chance to collect the eggs midday as well, this is great too.
Properly Collecting Your Chicken Eggs
Of course, guaranteeing the safety of your eggs has a lot to do with collecting and storing them properly. Now that we have discussed how often and why you should collect your chicken eggs daily; we will discuss exactly how to collect them properly. Here are the basic steps to clean, fresh eggs:
- Always use a clean wire basket or plastic container to collect your eggs. Washing this basket or container regularly to keep it clean.
- Never stack your eggs too high on top of each other. Anything higher than a few high will increase the chance of breaking an egg.
- Try to keep your eggs at a constant temperature until they can be washed properly. This helps avoid bacterial growth. Putting them in the refrigerator before washing them can cause the eggshell to contract which allows dirt or bacteria to enter the egg through its pores.
- Wash the eggs as soon as you can after collecting them. This is the best way to avoid bacteria buildup and lower contamination chances.
- When washing, use warmer water than the temperature of the egg itself. This allows your egg to swell slightly and pushes the dirt away from the pores, instead of causing bacteria to enter the shell.
- If your eggs are dirty or have visible dirt, take additional steps to clean. You can add some soap or other mild detergents to remove the added dirt.
- Try not to leave your eggs in the water for too long, removing them once they are washed thoroughly.
- Dry the eggs after removing them from the water and cool them. You can store at room temperature, but refrigerating is key to an extended lifespan.