How Long Can Chicken Eggs Stay in the Coop?
One of the main reasons why people get chickens is, of course, for the freshly laid eggs! Waking up to find eggs in the morning is one of the biggest joys of being a chicken keeper, and you’ll rarely ever be in short supply because of how frequently hens lay! While factors such as age, the time of year, and illness can affect how often your chickens produce eggs, you can generally expect a happy and healthy hen to lay an egg for you every day. If you notice that your chicken is not laying at all however, you may in fact have a rooster! Read through one of our previous blogs How to Tell a Cockerel From a Hen to find out more on this topic. So, what exactly do you do after you find your hen has laid an egg, and how long can chicken eggs stay in the coop for?
So, How Long Can Chicken Eggs Stay in the Coop?
Ideally, a freshly laid egg should be collected from your chicken coop nesting box as soon as possible and you should not leave eggs in the coop overnight if you can help it. While it’s true that eggs should not be left in the chicken coop for a prolonged period because it makes them susceptible to becoming contaminated with salmonella bacteria, it’s not solely for this reason. In fact, eggs can actually be left in the coop for 4-5 weeks and still be fresh to eat. This is because unwashed eggs have a protective bloom, or cuticle, which naturally prevents bacteria from the outside of the egg from entering inside. When you wash eggs, this bloom is then also washed away. Therefore, you do not have to wash fresh eggs unless soiled.
Why Should Chicken Eggs Not Be Left in the Coop for Too Long?
One of the other main reasons why you should not leave eggs in the coop for too long is because of the risk of your chickens eating their own eggs. Although it might sound like strange behavior, the longer you leave your chickens’ eggs in the coop, the more time they have to break them and begin feasting! You can read more about this topic in a previous blog where we spoke about why some chickens do this and what you can do to stop this behavior. Furthermore, the smell of broken eggs attracts chicken predators such as racoons and rats, who could also be stealing your hens’ eggs to eat.
Collecting eggs frequently will also help you to prevent your hens from going broody. A broody hen will sit on her egg all day, every day for up to 21 days, if not broken. This could prove an issue as you still need to ensure your hen is provided with adequate food and water, which of course will be difficult with a chicken that won’t move!
Fortunately, the Omlet Eglu Go UP Raised Chicken Coop has been designed to make it simple for chicken keepers to collect eggs. The easy to clean roosting bars and nesting box, along with a large and accessible back door, make for enjoyable and effortless egg collecting. All Omlet chicken coops are also predator resistant, so you can be assured that not only will your hens remain safe, but their eggs from being stolen too!
How To Tell if an Egg Has Gone Bad
It can be tricky to keep track of how fresh your eggs are if you’re unsure of how long they’ve been sitting in your hen’s nest box, or your egg basket if you have already collected them. Luckily, there are a few methods out there that can help you tell whether your eggs are still good to eat.
The Visual Test
First and foremost, you can carry out a visual inspection of your egg. Start by having a check of the shell, which should appear undamaged if your egg is still good to eat. Signs to look out for include any slime or cracks on the shell, as well as a powdery feel. Should you notice any of these, then your eggs could either be moldy or contain bacteria and are therefore unsafe to eat. If the shell of your egg appears to be normal but you’re still dubious, crack the egg open. If any of the insides of your egg is unusually discolored i.e. are pink or green, then your egg has gone bad and should not be consumed.
The Smell Test
Next, is the smell test. When you crack open a fresh egg, it should not smell. An egg that has gone off, however, will have a distinct, foul odor, similar to a “stink bomb”. In some circumstances where an egg has gone really bad, you may even be able to smell it before even cracking its shell open!
The Float Test
Another way you can tell how old your eggs are is by conducting the float test, which measures the air pocket of your egg. The amount of air inside an egg is an indication of its age, and the more air inside means the older it is. All you have to do for this one is to fill up a bowl or glass with water, which you should then place your suspected egg/s into. If your egg floats, then your egg has gone off, but if your egg sinks, then it’s still fresh!
To ensure optimum freshness and reduce waste, it’s a good idea to use a chicken egg marking date stamp after collecting your chickens’ eggs from their coop. Simply mark your eggs with food-grade ink with the date of lay as an easy way to keep a record of your hens’ eggs.
How Often Should You Collect Chicken Eggs?
Collecting fresh eggs from the hen house should be done at least once a day, and if possible, twice. Egg-laying times can differ from hen to hen but generally speaking, most will lay by the late morning, so it’s best to do the first collection around this time. If you are doing a second collection of the day, check for any fresher eggs later in the evening. However, there are specific circumstances that mean as a chicken keeper, you may have to occasionally collect eggs more often.
If you’re experiencing that your chickens are eating their own eggs, for example, you should check their nesting box four times a day and collect any new or previously missed eggs. If this helps to break the habit, you’ll be able to resume your usual collecting regime after a few days. As well as this, the time of year may also impact how often you should collect eggs, as we will discuss below.
How Long Can Eggs Stay in the Coop in Spring and Summer?
The answer to how long you can keep fresh eggs in the coop before storing them inside is dependent on the climate of where you keep your chickens. The outside climate, in turn, affects the temperature of your coop, especially those made of wood. The warmer the temperature, the easier your eggs can spoil. If you’re experiencing a particularly hot summer, if left in the coop, your eggs will start going bad more so at 3 weeks as opposed to 4.
How Long Can Eggs Stay in the Coop in Autumn and Winter?
Late autumn and winter as a chicken keeper can bring challenges, which means making a few adjustments for you and your flock. Use these tips to keep your chickens fit and healthy this winter, but a good place to start is by providing your hens with additional chicken vitamins and minerals to help their immune systems. Regarding eggs, something to note as a chicken keeper over this period is that most breeds of chicken will either stop or reduce their egg-laying output as there is less daylight, although some owners combat this by using artificial light in the chicken coop so that they have a supply of eggs throughout the year.
If your hen is still laying this time of year, their eggs can spoil very quickly as a result of freezing. As an egg freezes, the inside of the egg expands and the shell cracks, now making it unsafe to eat. At -0.45°C, an egg white will freeze and at -0.58°C, the yolk will too, so you’ll need to be quick when it comes to collecting and storing your hens’ eggs in cold weather! Fortunately, well-insulated chicken coops, alongside using a chicken coop temperature protection jacket will prevent eggs from freezing.
Can the Type of Chicken Coop Affect How Long Eggs Can Stay in the Coop?
When it comes to keeping chickens, deciding which coop to get is one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make. While your hens’ eggs hopefully won’t be in the nesting box for too long, it’s wise to consider how you can maximize keeping your eggs fresh for longer by choosing a suitable coop. Both wooden and plastic chicken coops have their advantages and disadvantages, however, in terms of practicality, plastic chicken coops definitely take the lead.
Plastic Chicken Coops
Plastic chicken coops such as the Omlet Eglu Cube Large Chicken Coop and Run, Eglu Go Chicken Coop, and Eglu Go UP Raised Chicken Coop have excellent ventilation systems, which mean your chickens (and their eggs) will remain cool in warm weather, and not freeze in cold weather. Another overarching advantage of plastic chicken coops is the potential issue with red mite, a parasitic mite that can infest your chickens’ coop and suck their blood! While red mite can be treated, prevention is always better than the cure. Plastic chicken coops make it very difficult for red mites to live in, as opposed to wooden coops where mites love to get stuck in.
Concerning how this will affect your eggs, is that a red mite infestation could mean your hens will completely stop laying altogether, and if they are still producing eggs, you may notice red spots on the shell. These are squashed red mites, which now mean your eggs are inedible.
Wooden Chicken Coops
The main advantage of wooden chicken coops is their traditional appearance. An issue with wooden chicken coops is that wood is not a very good thermal insulator. What this means is that when the weather warms up outside, the temperature inside of your coop will quickly increase too. As we learnt earlier, this becomes an issue over the summer when of course, eggs will go bad at a quicker rate due to the high temperatures.
What Can You do to Make your Chickens’ Eggs Better
Your chickens’ general health goes hand in hand with the quality and quantity of eggs they produce. Therefore, as a chicken keeper, it’s fundamental to remain responsible for their wellbeing to not only prevent illness but to also ensure they continue to lay tasty eggs! If you’re struggling to tell which of your chickens are laying, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to find out.
In our previous blog 8 Ways To Make Your Chickens Lay More Eggs, we discussed the importance of feeding your hens a good quality feed. If you’re unsure of what to look out for, a good feed should be made up of between 16-20% protein, depending on the age of your chickens. Additionally, chickens should regularly be fed plenty of calcium, often in the form of oyster shells. You can also use a natural supplement chicken eggshell improver if your hen’s eggshells feel particularly soft or weak.
Putting Eggs in the Fridge to Last Longer, does it Work?
When we think about keeping food, particularly animal products, fresh, we all acknowledge the importance of storing these products in a fridge (or freezer). When it comes to supermarket eggs, in the UK and the rest of Europe, eggs are typically not refrigerated, whereas, in the US, they are! So, what about the freshly laid eggs from our backyard hens? Well, the answer to this question still remains largely unanswered by the chicken keeping community, with are arguments on both sides as to which way will make your eggs last the longest. You can read more about this on a previous blog we wrote on storing chicken eggs. However, the rule of thumb is that you should store eggs below 68°F (room temperature) once they have been collected. So, whether this is in or out of the fridge in a basket, box, or chicken egg skelter, is your choice!
Although it might seem like a simple question, there’s really no simple, “one size fits all” answer to how long you can keep your hens’ eggs in the coop! In summary, you should collect eggs at least once a day, regardless of the time of year. Just be mindful of factors such as the weather that could make your eggs spoil sooner, and act accordingly by collecting more frequently. If in doubt, go ahead and test the various methods to help you determine if your egg is good to eat!
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