As chicken keepers, we all have different daily routines so we can’t always be around to collect eggs as soon once they’re laid. As well as our routines, chickens also tend to have theirs too, so some will lay first thing in the morning, but others may not lay until the afternoon.
Chicken eggs actually have thousands of tiny pores all over them and have a protective bloom on the outside of the shell which prevents anything harmful from getting inside. It’s for this reason that extra care needs to be taken over how eggs are treated to prevent the bloom from being removed to keep them safe for us to eat.
Typically you should try and collect your chickens’ eggs on the same day as they’re laid to keep them as clean as possible and to prevent the eggs from becoming too hot, freezing or wet due to condensation. The longer eggs stay in the nest box the more chance of cross-contamination of harmful bacteria.
Read on to find out more about the different scenarios which affect how long eggs can stay in the coop, along with some more tips on keeping your eggs fresh and clean.
What happens if you don’t collect chickens eggs from the coop?
Once you let your chickens out in the morning it’s unusual that they’ll spend much time in the coop during the rest of the day if they have the option to be in a run or free-ranging.
The exception to this rule is when they go back into the coop to lay an egg or in extreme weather such as heavy snow where they just can’t face going outside. Other than that they tend to just go into the nest box, sit for a little while they lay and then leave.
Depending on how many chickens are in your flock, they tend to follow suit and take turns in laying throughout the morning and maybe even early afternoon.
If the nest box has clean straw inside the eggs should be pretty clean, and during the day the eggs should continue to remain clean and dry unless it’s very hot or very cold (which I’ll cover next in this article).
Problems can arise once the chickens go back into the coop to roost if eggs have not been collected because as they settle in for the evening and when they wake in the morning the eggs can get kicked about, potentially broken and get covered in muck.
Ideally, eggs should be collected before the chickens go back into roost at the end of the day to keep them as clean as possible and to prevent cross-contamination of certain bacteria.
Reasons why you shouldn’t leave eggs in the coop for a long time
The information above really relates to a normal temperature situation, but there are some situations where you might want to try and collect your eggs a bit sooner to stop them becoming spoiled and to reduce the chance of bacterial from penetrating the egg.
Collecting eggs in hot weather
If you experience very hot weather where you live, it’s good to collect your eggs as soon as you can to avoid them becoming too warm and well above normal storage temperature.
Allowing eggs to become too warm can lead to the eggs spoiling and could reduce the amount of time they stay fresh.
There’s different advice on whether you should store eggs in the fridge depending on where you live, for example, US rules state they should be kept in the fridge and whereas in the UK we store them at room temperature.
If eggs have been subjected to very high temperatures and then held at room temperature, this can increase the risk of an egg going bad sooner than an egg stored at normal temperatures.
Collecting eggs in freezing temperatures
If eggs are left in an open coop in extreme winter freezing conditions this can actually lead to the egg becoming partially frozen inside.
Once the egg defrosts when it’s brought inside and then sits at room temperature, this can lead to the egg becoming bad inside.
Eggs can also crack as they expand if they begin to freeze and will become unusable as harmful bacteria could get inside the egg while it’s in the coop.
If eggs do freeze inside the coop and you want to use them, it’s best practice to use them first and on the same day if possible.
Eggs which get wet or have cold condensation on the outside have a greater chance of losing their protective bloom and can actually allow bacteria to get inside.
If eggs are left in a damp condition for too long they carry a greater risk of being unsafe. Don’t worry if your eggs feel a bit damp when you collect them on the same day, its just something which is good to be aware of.
If this happens you might want to refrigerate the eggs and use them sooner to reduce any potential risk.
How to stop chickens eggs getting dirty in the coop
If you can’t collect your chickens’ eggs until later in the day, there are a few things which you can do limit how dirty your chickens’ eggs get while they’re inside the coop.
Here are some tips on how to keep your eggs as clean as possible while they’re inside the coop:
- Keep the nest area separate from the roosting area to prevent chicken muck from getting into the nest bedding.
- Make a deeper nest with straw or nesting material so the eggs sink down a bit once they’re laid.
- Consider a roll away insert for your nest box.
- Regularly skim off the top of the nesting material and replace with a handful of straw or chicken bedding.
There is some debate about whether you should let chickens roost in nest boxes or not and some chicken keepers choose to block off the nests to avoid the mess.
This is really a personal preference, we tend to let the chickens choose because where we live is generally pretty cold and some of our hens like to snuggle together to keep warm.
We found the best way to avoid muck is to make sure their bottoms can’t hang over the nest area while they roost because they do produce a lot of muck during this time.
It’s pretty rewarding when you go out to collect completely clean eggs laying in a straw nest and its easy to do by using a bit of trial and error.
For more information on this topic you might find the following article helpful:
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I hope this post has helped you to find out more about how long you can keep chickens eggs in the coop, you might also find the following related article helpful too:
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on January 8, 2021..