Country Traditions

September 12, 2010

Collect, Clean and Store Chicken Eggs

Filed under: animals, chickens — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 11:26 pm
Chicken eggs

Image via Wikipedia

Are those pretty layers that you bought in spring starting to lay eggs? Wondering what the best way is to clean them? It isn’t quite as straightforward as you think, and different sources give differing opinions on the best way to clean chicken eggs.

Gathering the Eggs

First things first. Before you worry about cleaning them, you have to gather the eggs. There are things you can do to make sure that the eggs you gather are as clean as possible, minimizing the amount of cleaning you must do.

Keep nest boxes well-feathered. Make sure the hens’ nest boxes have plenty of shavings or straw lining them. If there’s poop in the nest boxes, clean it out well when you collect the eggs and replace the straw or shavings. Likewise, if a hen has broken an egg, clean out the mess thoroughly, removing all wet or soiled straw.

Gather eggs early and often. One of the biggest reasons for poopy or broken eggs is allowing them to sit overnight in the nest boxes. Some of my hens seem to prefer to roost on the edges of the nest boxes, or even in them! (Bad hens!) Overnight, they poop on the eggs if there are any in the boxes, or step on them, breaking the shells. This makes for a lot more work if we miss a day of egg collecting. If you can manage it, collecting eggs twice a day can help keep them really clean, and also discourages egg eating.

Cleaning the Eggs

Before you submerge the freshly collected eggs in ice water, wait! Cold water actually causes the pores in an eggshell to pull bacteria from the surface in through the shell and into the egg, where you don’t want it. What’s more, unwashed eggs have a natural antibacterial coating called bloom.

Dry cleaning. If possible, dry clean your eggs. This means using something abrasive to rub off any dirt or poop until the egg is clean. This method preserves most of the bloom intact. Use a sanding sponge, loofah, sandpaper, or abrasive sponge of some kind to dry clean your eggs. Be sure to sanitize the sanding sponge, or whatever you’re using to clean the eggs, occasionally.

Wet cleaning. If your eggs are just too gross to dry clean (they sometimes get egg yolk from a broken egg on them, and once dried, this is impossible to remove dry), you can use water to clean them. Make sure to use water that is warmer than the egg temperature – medium warmth, not hot, but not tepid, either.

Do not immerse the eggs in water or let them stand in water. We wash the eggs under running water from the faucet. Another method is to spray the eggs in washer flats or wire baskets with warm water, let them sit, then wipe them with a dry paper towel one at a time. Place clean eggs into another basket or flat.

Follow this with a sanitizing spray, using bleach diluted in water for the spray mixture. Then allow the eggs to dry on a rack or in a basket or washer flat.

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