Coop to Kitchen - 5 Tips to Ensure Clean Eggs from your Backyard Chickens

The last step in a chicken's egg laying process involves the application of a thin, nearly invisible film on the surface of the eggshell called the 'bloom'. This bloom helps to keep air and bacteria from penetrating the eggshell, thereby ensuring the egg's freshness and edibility.

Washing the egg removes the bloom, so optimally you don't want to wash the eggs from your backyard flock unless absolutely necessary. Once an egg is washed, it has to be refrigerated, but unwashed, an egg will last out on the counter at room temperature for several weeks, or refrigerated for several months, far longer than washed eggs.

Chicken coops and runs aren't necessarily the cleanest places and no one wants to be bringing eggs covered in poop, mud or even material from broken eggs into their kitchen, so how do you ensure that your eggs are clean when you collect them?

Of course you need enough boxes for the size of your flock. Rule of thumb is one box for every 3-4 hens, but in reality all your hens will want to use the same one or two boxes! However, these five tips will help ensure clean eggs:

1.) Don't allow your hens to sleep in the nesting boxes. Roosts should always be positioned higher than the nesting boxes, since chickens will seek the highest perch on which to sleep. Allow 8" of roost space per bird. If hens persist in sleeping on the boxes, lift them out and place them on the roosts after dark to condition them to roost, or block off the boxes completely in the afternoon once all your hens have laid their eggs. For my nesting box block hack, click HERE.

2.) Refresh the nesting box bedding each morning. As part of my morning chores, I fluff the straw in each nesting box and add more if necessary. Too little bedding can result in eggs broken on the hard nesting box floor.

3.) Locate your nesting boxes on the wall opposite the coop pop door. Often it's not chicken poop, but instead mud from the run, that is dirtying the eggs. By positioning your nesting boxes across the coop from the pop door, you force your hens to walk the length of the coop to lay their egg, and hopefully rub the mud off their feet in the process.

4.) Discourage broodies from sitting on nonfertile eggs. If your eggs aren't fertile, don't let your hens sit on them. Broodies hog the nesting boxes and often skirmishes will break out, resulting in broken eggs. No only will you have broken eggs, you'll have yolk and white all over all the other eggs. For tips on breaking a broody click HERE.

5.) Collect eggs as often as possible. The more frequently you can collect your eggs, the less chance they will get inadvertently broken, stepped on by another hen with muddy feet or poop on. So try and check for eggs at least a few times a day if possible.

These tips should help ensure that your eggs are nice and clean right from the coop. Fore more information on the handling and cleaning of eggs click HERE.

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  1. Hi! I just came across your website when I was searching for a homemade cleaner recipe I had inadvertently lost. Anyway, our family just began our chicken raising adventure 2 weeks ago. We adopted 18 hens and 5 pullets from friends that are moving. The chickens are doing quite well and we have been getting at least 12 eggs daily for 5-7 days (which I've heard is good since the chickens were moved!). I noticed in your article above that you suggest collecting eggs several times a day which is what we were doing at first. Then we decided to see what would happen if we left the chickens and eggs alone and that's when we began getting more than 10 or 12 a day. We have "fake" eggs in the boxes to encourage laying but having the real eggs seemed to help everybody get on board with laying. Do you think our disturbing the eggs a few times a day will affect the still-trying-to-adapt chickens? Thankfully, we haven't had any broken eggs in a week so, right now, we're leaving the eggs in the boxes until late afternoon. I appreciate your opinion!

    1. Hi there. Welcome and congratulations on your new acquisition! Yes, in your case I would leave the eggs since your chickens are just getting used to their new home.

      I do have a recipe for an orange peel cleaner if that's what you were looking for.

      And I hope you'll join me on Facebook as well and post some photos of your flock! Again, welcome! Lisa

  2. I'm having a difficult time with broken eggs! Any advice on keeping my hens from scratching all their straw from the nests?

  3. Hi F.E.D,
    I am having an issue with keeping the eggs clean. We clean the coop 1x per week and have been using shavings inside the coop in all of the nesting boxes. We have 11 hens, no roosters. When we first got them, the eggs were coming out very clean with
    Little to no mud or poop. Now, as summer gets warmer and more humid, i have found they are becoming increasingly dirty
    And we have to clean them before giving them to family/friends etc. We have already tried the steps above. Any suggestions as to
    What we could put in the coop to make the eggs not so dirty? ?? Thanks in advance