|Clean unwashed eggs from the girls|
I never wash my eggs. When chickens create the egg, the shell is "wrapped" in an antimicrobial coating. This coating, serves a few purposes. First, it keeps bacteria, viruses and the like from entering the egg. It also helps maintain the egg's moisture content, extending the egg's shelf life. Some say this protective coating also allows individuals to keep eggs unrefrigerated for a few weeks. However, I would never endorse this. It is important given technology, to refrigerate eggs immediately upon harvesting to ensure the safety of your family.
Eggs available for purchase in the grocery store have been washed. As the protective coating is washed away, so is the shelf life. When the coating is removed, the egg's shell becomes permeable, allowing air and microbes to enter through microscopic pores on the surface of the egg.
This comes around to a question that I get asked frequently, "How do you keep your unwashed eggs so clean?" I like to keep the protective coating on my eggs, for the reasons listed above. So I am diligent with hygiene in the coop and nesting boxes. Everyday, I clean the nesting boxes of feathers and poop. This only takes a few minutes. On a weekly basis, the entire coop is cleaned out. I have this luxury, because my coop is small. I also keep my chickens clean. For some reason, only Oyster Cracker's backside needs tending to now and then.
Do I ever wash my eggs? Well, yes, sometimes a little blob of poop gets stuck to the shell. Those I wash and consume first, even before previously harvested eggs. I don't mind a tiny little smear of dirt, as you can see on the third egg from the left in the front row. Once I am ready to use the eggs, I typically wash the ones with visible soiling. I do not wash the "clean" ones.
To me it comes down to the simple fact. I would rather nurture nature than interfere with it. However, that being said, I have been known to wash a chicken now and then.
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest