People often ask me how I have clean chicken eggs when I harvest them. Today I’m sharing my secrets to picking clean eggs from the nesting boxes. As the egg is laid, the hen puts a protective clear wet coating on the egg called a bloom. The bloom seals the outer shell of the egg keeping air out, along with other harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. When eggs are washed the bloom is removed. That ultimately decreases the “shelf-life” of the egg. Harvesting clean eggs, allows you to keep the bloom intact and there is no need to wash your eggs. Here are my secrets to clean chicken eggs naturally.
Have enough nesting boxes. — You should have one nesting box per four laying hens in your flock.
Build them large enough.— Each box should be at least a 12″x 12″ square with a top, bottom and two sides. It is also helpful to have a lip on the front of the box to prevent the eggs from rolling out inadvertently. This gives the chickens a sense of a safe place to keep their eggs safe.
Block off the nesting boxes until your young chickens become egg laying age.— Chickens should never be allowed to sleep in nesting boxes and all young chickens seem to be drawn to sleeping in the boxes. Simply block off the entrances to the nesting boxes with cardboard that you can remove later. Encourage your flock to sleep on the roosts. You may have to pick them up and put them on the roosts at first after dusk. When the hens are around 20 weeks of age, remove the cardboard and place some wooden dummy eggs in the nesting boxes to encourage egg laying in the boxes.
Do not let your chickens sleep in the nesting boxes.— No matter the age, every once in a while you will find a chicken sleeping in the nesting boxes. When you lock them up at night, inspect the boxes and remove any chickens in the boxes and place them onto the roost at dusk.
Tidy the nesting boxes each day. — As you gather eggs, tidy up the boxes and remove any feathers or poop that you may find. If your chickens are not sleeping in the boxes, poop will be rare. This is key for clean chicken eggs. Using kiln dried pine shavings in the nesting boxes makes cleaning and tidying a breeze. I avoid straw in the boxes because it is much more difficult to clean than the shavings and the shafts of the straw make the perfect place for pests like poultry mites to hide.
Remove broody hens from the nests. — Broody hens are notorious for living in the nesting boxes. When you have broody hens in the boxes, it is okay to let the broodiness run its course. Just be sure to remove the broodies off the nest so they can make a big broody poop and take food and water.
Refresh the nesting box bedding at least once per month. — Add a sprinkle of food grade DE and some dried herbs to the nesting boxes as well as fresh pine shavings helps to keep pests at at bay. I swear this encourages egg laying. It seems that the days that I do this, everyone seems to lay an egg!
Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?
11 thoughts on “7 Secrets to Clean Chicken Eggs”
Hi, thank you for this article. It came at the perfect time as my chicks are between 2-4 months old. Two questions I have, I see curtains to block off the nesting boxes sometimes in photos, are they helpful? Also, where do you find kiln dried pine shavings?
Hi, some people like to hang the curtains to make their hens feel safe inside the box. They tend to like to lay in dark places sometimes. They are not necessary but a fun accessory. They will get dusty though and need to be cleaned from time to time. You can pick up kiln dried pine shavings at the local feed store. They come in a big vacuum sealed bale either with paper or plastic.
Another secret to clean eggs would be to make sure that your hens don’t have worms. If their eggs come out dirty, then it may be time to worm them. This can be done simply by mixing 1 TBL of DE per hen in their feed for a couple weeks.
I just found your blog and am enjoying reading your articles. I love the idea of DE and herbs in the nesting box. Please share which herbs you like to add to the pine shavings. TY, -K
Sure! Here you go, lots more information in this post:https://www.tillysnest.com/2013/09/how-to-add-herbs-to-coop-html/
I too have stumbled across your blog, after going through many google suggestions for some new chicken toys/ boredom busters. I’ve got 4 chickens in the coop and it seems that my new two actually like the perches. Is it too late to train my 2 year old chickens to sleep on perches?! I seem to be forever cleaning the nesting boxes!
Sure, you can try to retrain them. It might just take weeks of removing them from the nesting boxes as dark sets in and placing them on the roosts. They should learn to do it on their own but it will take a while to break them of this habit.
Every other chicken website said to have 1 nesting box per 2 hens! I have 5 hens and 3 nesting boxes, so I have enough either way.
4 hens to 1 box is the standard maximum ratio. With 5 hens and three boxes you have plenty! Maybe you should add some more chickens 😉
I’m getting some new chickies next spring!
Yahoo! How egg-citing!