What to do about dirty eggs

by Annie Janauer on January 8, 2009

in backyard farm, chickens, fresh eggs

One disadvantage to my eggs is that they are not all perfectly clean. As I mentioned in an earlier entry about building our coop, our nesting boxes are not situated away from chicken foot traffic to ensure that all of the eggs make it out of the box without picking up some dirt (I am trying to skirt around saying that some of them have poop on them). What to do? Even changing the bedding in the boxes daily does not eliminate the problem. The chickens are not careful about where they walk so anything on their feet can and will get on their eggs.

Despite regular cleaning of the boxes some eggs are soiled.

Despite regular cleaning of the boxes some eggs are soiled.

Should I wash the eggs? I have read that the chicken produces a natural antibiotic bloom which covers the egg and is responsible for keeping the egg from absorbing bacteria. Washing the eggs removes that protective layer and increases the likely hood that the egg will go bad. This source claims it is better to wipe of the slightly dirty eggs with a cloth and store the eggs in the refrigerator. Then wash the egg with soap and water just before use. Another source claims that it is desirable to wash the outside of the dirty eggs with soap and water or even dip them in a dilute bleach solution before they are stored in the refrigerator. Being new to this entire operation I an not certain which I should do so I have elected to do a little of both. Very dirty eggs I discard. Slightly dirty eggs (slight smudges but now obvious dried on poop) I wipe and store. Medium dirty eggs I clean right away with soap and water and store but mark the carton so that I know to use those eggs quickly.

But this is just a short term solution. In the long term we plan to build a new with a better nesting box design in an attempt to reduce the number of eggs which are soiled in the first place. Our plan is to attach nesting boxes to the outside of the coop which are off the ground. The chickens will have a landing platform on the inside so they can fly up to the nesting box, land on the pad just outside the opening and hop inside to lay their eggs. The bottom of the box will be sloped down toward the back of the box. We intend to include a barrier which covers a space at the back of the nesting box which is raised off the bottom of the box enough for the eggs to roll past and into the space in the back but too low for the chicken to get under. The top of the nesting box will have a roof which is hinged so that we can gather the eggs by lifting the lid. There are designs like this one to be found in many places. I  did not invent this myself. I am drawing from images I have stored in my pea brain which I am sure originated in one or all of the web sites and chicken books I have looked at.

A simple drawing of the nesting box I have in minde for the new coop
A simple drawing of the nesting box I have in minde for the new coop

When we actually start working on the new coop I am sure that there will be changes to the plan but for now this is what I have in my mind. If anyone has an idea for improving the design I would love to read your comments. Construction of the new coop will not begin until spring.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Ripples (1/10/09)
01.10.09 at 3:38 am
Building Plans for the New Coop — Wild About Chickens
04.05.09 at 3:39 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Reeve 01.09.09 at 1:53 am

I love your design. Look forward to updates about it becoming a reality…

Beth Donovan 01.21.09 at 1:32 pm

That is a great design - almost exactly like one of my nesting boxes. I still get occasional dirty eggs, though, because it seems like the chickens all want to lay eggs in the same nesting box! So I’ve been trying to collect them 3 times a day, and I put fresh hay in the box about every other day - the hay seems to work better than wood shavings for nesting material for my chickens, I end up with fewer cracked eggs - one of my hens seems to like to lay her eggs standing up, if I don’t have a lot of cushion under her, she will crack the egg and any eggs her egg hits!

I also found an old bookcase for free out in front of a house being remodeled - I took it and turned it into another nesting box, at the very back of my big chicken house. It has 4 shelves, and they seem to like to lay eggs on all the shelves - I nailed some wood to the front of each shelf to stop any eggs from rolling out, and it’s also working well, and it was free and a way to reuse stuff that would otherwise be thrown out.

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