A flock of chickens walking around and looking for bugs in grass.

How big is your flock?

We currently have a mixed flock containing Silver Laced Wyandottes, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Brown Leghorns, Jersey Giants, Ameraucaunas, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and an Ayam Cemani hen and rooster. We have over 50 hens, and 3 roosters to help protect them from predators. 

Valarie sits in a chair with two brown leghorn hens on their leg

How long are my eggs good for? How should I store them?

The shelf life is going to vary based on where you keep the eggs. I recommend always refrigerating eggs under 45 degrees to keep them at their optimal quality for the longest. Unless you requested washed eggs the bloom is intact. Unwashed eggs will last a long time in the fridge as the protective coating was not washed off and it helps keep odors and air out for longer. 

If you aren't sure if they are still good, do the float test. Keep in mind that the float test only tells you how much air has been able to get into the shell since the egg was laid- it's an indicator of age but not a guarantee of a good egg. If an egg looks or smells bad, please discard it to be safe! Unwashed eggs are generally good for 2 weeks on the counter or 3 months in the fridge. Washed eggs should always be refrigerated. 

How can I use my eggs?

Any way that you regularly use eggs you can use these eggs! They might add a little more color to baked goods than you are used to from the dark yolks, if this is undesirable you can reduce the number of yolks or just use the whites. For example, a "white" cake will look more yellow because of the darker yolks. 

How can I tell if my eggs are bad?

If you are unsure if the eggs are still fresh enough to use, try the float test. Fill a container at least three times the size of the egg with very cold water. Place the egg in the water. If it floats to the top, it is old and should be discarded. If it sinks, it is still fresh and ready to be used. If it doesn't completely sink but isn't fully floating (for example rising slightly off the bottom of the container), it is close to expiring and should be used within the next day or two. Again, this only shows how much air has been able to get into the shell since the egg was laid. When in doubt, throw it out. 

My eggs have debris on them, are they safe to eat?

I do not wash eggs to keep the bloom (protective covering made when the hen lays the egg) intact so they stay fresh longer. Please wash your eggs before using. You can just run them under warm running water and gently wipe them. I only wash eggs that were dirty when collected, which rarely happens as they have clean nesting materials. Sometimes they will lay an egg in the dirt outside while free ranging.  I typically keep dirty eggs for my use. 

Are your chickens free ranged?

We free-range our chickens with supervision every day inside a fenced area. They have a large coop that greatly exceeds the 4 square foot per chicken guidelines for happy hens. In the winter when there is less grass growing they are fed some fodder and extra vegetables to help make up for the lack of foraging. 

A variety of chickens inside a fenced area near their coop.

What do you feed your chickens?

We feed our chickens a commercially available 16% layer oriented feed with probiotics that is nutritionally complete. They have free access to feed while in the coop as well as free access to calcium and insoluble grit, and are fed meal worms and a 5 grain scratch as a treat. We do not feed anything with pea or beans due to family allergies. They eat less feed in the non-snow months because they do free range, getting lots of fresh grass and keeping our yard free from a lot of bugs. They always have access to fresh, clean water in the field and in the coop.

My eggs look different than I am used to when I crack them, what is that?

Fresh eggs are a little different than store-bought eggs, and you might see some things that are removed during quality control in commercially bought eggs. They are typically safe to eat, just not exactly what you might be used to seeing.

Your egg might be fertilized, shown by a bullseye dot on the yolk. These are completely safe to eat and won't develop unless properly incubated at the correct temperature and humidity.

There is a string in my egg, what is this?

The string is what helps hold the chick in place during development. It is more noticeable in free-ranged eggs than caged eggs. You can scoop it out if you find it unpalatable.

There is a blood spot in my egg, is it safe to eat?

Sometimes when hens are startled during laying there will be a spot of blood in the egg. This is safe to eat, though feel free to remove it if it bothers you. I have yet to find a blood spot in any of my eggs but it definitely can happen. Cracking eggs individually in a glass before putting them in your recipe or bowl is a good idea in case there is something weird going on with your egg.

I cracked an egg and there were two yolks!

Double-yolked eggs are more common in younger hens as their bodies get used to laying. They are rare in commercial eggs because they are typically removed in quality control for being too large.

My eggshells are all different shades, why is that?

Each chicken has it's own individual egg color, so there is variation in the shades of eggs laid. They are all various shades of light to darker brown from the breeds that lay brown eggs, and white from the Brown Leghorns. The Ameraucanas lay blue to blue-green eggs naturally! 

The yolks of my eggs are darker/more orange than I was expecting, are they okay to eat?

Yolks from chickens that are getting free range and pasture time are usually darker than those strictly on feed because they are getting lots of good nutrition from being able to eat what they eat naturally, which is bugs and plant matter. We have an acre for our chickens to hang out on, and they love digging through leaf piles and chasing grasshoppers. 


Popular Posts