|From the brown egg on bottom clockwise: eggs from Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Dolly, Fifi and Feathers|
One of my favorite things is discovering freshly laid eggs in the nesting boxes. It never seems to grow old. Each egg is a gift from the girls. In fact, if you pay close enough attention, you will soon be able to discover which hen has laid which egg. Freshly laid eggs not only taste better but last longer if cared for properly. Happy hens not only lay more consistently but also lay better eggs. This starts with ensuring they have a safe place to lay their eggs, have access to layer food, fresh water and calcium.
You should get in the habit of checking for eggs at least twice a day; in the morning and afternoon. This helps to keep the eggs intact and clean. It also prevents hens from egg eating and can discourage broodiness.
Clean eggs should not be washed. Prior to being laid, the hen coats the egg with a “bloom”. The bloom is a protective antimicrobial coating that helps to keep the eggs fresher by preventing air from entering the egg. The bloom also aids in keeping bacteria from entering through the porous egg shell. If the eggs are badly soiled, they should be cleaned. Do not immerse the eggs in water. The water temperature should be at least 10 degrees warmer than the egg and constantly flowing. This prevents bacteria from being pulled into the egg through the shell. Be sure to quickly clean and dry each egg using the above technique. Commercially available wipes are also available and specifically formulated to clean eggs.
Clean eggs should be refrigerated promptly and kept between the temperatures of 33 degrees F to 45 degrees F to prevent bacterial growth. Egg should never be stored near any food that give off strong odors. It is possible that the eggs can absorb the odor and the flavor of the egg will be affected.
If you are selling your eggs, here are a few federal regulations to be aware of:
~Eggs must be sold in clean, unused cartons.
~Eggs must be labeled with the following statement:
“SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolk are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.”
~The carton must display the packed on date or the sell by date. The “sell by date” is 30 days after the packing date.
~Displays a grading statement based on your personal preferences
~Packaging must also include the seller’s name, address and phone number
~All lettering should be 3/16″ or larger
You can choose to grade and size your eggs or not. If you are like me and do not grade or size your eggs, then your carton should state “Not graded, Not sized” or “Nest Run”. Grading is done by candling and sizing is done by weight. You can find more information about sizing and grading your eggs here and here.
Finally, stating that your eggs are organic is not permissible unless you have officially been certified organic. This is an incredibly rigorous process and if you are interested in becoming organically certified you can look here to start. We label our eggs as “organically fed”.
Selling your eggs is a great way to meet people, meet a demand in your community and teach children about math and running a small business. It is also a great way to turn people on to keeping a flock of backyard chickens for themselves. This happens all the time after people taste the difference between store bought eggs and eggs that come from happy backyard chickens.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest