Chicken Nesting Boxes: Owner’s Guide

Chicken Nesting Boxes: Owner’s Guide

Chicken nesting boxes are central to owning hens – it’s where the magic of laying eggs happens!

 

Choosing the RIGHT nesting boxes is pretty important – I’m frequently contacted by owners who think their hens aren’t laying eggs.

 

But often, the issue is these hens just aren’t fans of their nesting areas – so they’re laying elsewhere.

 

And we all know that one of the best parts of being a chicken mama is being a chicken grandmama! The excitement can’t be contained when you find the fluffy butts sitting on eggs because they’ve gone broody.

 

But, as I said above, hens don’t just lay anywhere – just where they feel safe.

 

In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know – whether you’ll buy your “egg depositories” or plan to use a chicken nesting boxes plans pdf to build your own.

 

If you plan to buy nesting boxes, these are the brands we recommend:

 

 

It’s most important that the nesting box is easy for your hens to get in and out of – the look or material is less important than your hens feel safe.

 

What can I use as a chicken nesting box?

Pretty much anything can be a nesting box – a basket, a box, 5 gallon buckets, you name it. The most important thing is that a nesting box is:

 

  • Quiet
  • Clean
  • Dark

 

You can find lots of DIY nesting box plans online – just choose a style that suits your flock and your coop.

 

How many nesting boxes are necessary?

Flocks of different sizes have different needs – you don’t need a million nesting boxes if you only have a few hens! While there really is no hard and fast rule about how many nesting boxes for chickens you should have, a basic rule of thumb is 1 nesting box per 4-5 chickens.

 

Why so few? Chickens are social animals, and hens like to share their laying space. In fact, if you enter your chicken coop at just the right time, you might find 2 or even 3 hens cluttering up ONE nesting box!

 

So, if you’re asking yourself, “how many nesting boxes do I need for 20 chickens?,” rest assured that 5 boxes is enough for 20 chickens.

 

They might only use two of those and making one nesting box for each hen is overkill!

 

How many nesting boxes do you need for 6 chickens?

Remember that for every 4-5 chickens, 1 box is best. So for 6 chickens, 2 boxes is enough.

 

What is the best material for a chicken nesting box?

Wood, metal, and plastic are popular choices for nesting boxes. DIY versions can be made from scrap wood left from a previous project, or plywood would be awesome! You can also make economical plastic chicken nesting boxes out of 5 gallon buckets, milk crates, and even cat litter boxes!

 

Some people like the Roll Out nest boxes you see on Amazon. These are usually made of metal, which is easy to clean and sanitize.

 

 

(Just remember that these contraptions take up space, and gravity plays a huge part for this kind of system – for it to work properly, the roll away nest box angle should be considered.)

 

Whichever material you choose, just remember that it’s important your hens’ living area is frequently cleaned – so choose material that’s easy to sanitize.

 

What’s the best bedding for chicken nest boxes? What do you put in a nesting box?

 

  1. Pine Shavings
  2. Straw
  3. Hay
  4. Cedar Shavings
  5. Grass clippings
  6. Recycled or shredded newspaper
  7. Shredded leaves
  8. Nesting pads

 

For bedding, we use pine shavings. They’re easy to clean, easy to find in farm stores, and economical.

 

Straw and hay are fine as well – you will likely need to change the bedding more often. Some people claim straw and hay can harbor chicken mites. This might be true (but really, any bedding can if you don’t change it often enough).

 

Grass clippings and shredded leaves aren’t recommended. They’re not very absorbent and will get dirty a lot faster. Grass in particular creates a gross, moist environment fast. Newspaper isn’t very absorbent either, and the ink will get on your hens and possibly the eggs.

 

Lastly, some people object to using cedar in their coops, claiming the scent of cedar might harm chickens. While the jury is still out on this, pine shavings make a fine substitute.

 

However, if you find you really have a lot of problems with mites, cedar shavings might be a safer bet – it’s far more likely your hens will be harmed by mites than by cedar.

 

Some people add herbs so their hens have a nice-smelling space and to help them relax and prompt laying.

 

If you want to use a nesting box pad, there’s lots of commercial options. Here’s some brands I recommend:

 

 

Remember: This bedding will basically be the mattress for your hens. Before throwing in anything you find, keep in mind that your hens will be sitting on it – and if they’re comfortable, they’re more likely to use the nesting box.

 

Make sure the bedding is soft enough for the eggs to land on, and that they won’t get cracked if your hens roll them around.

 

The nesting box material should should also be easy for you to clean and sanitize – and prevent chicken mites.

 

Here at the farm, we add ¼ cup of our WormBGone nesting herbs 3-4 times a week to each nesting box to keep internal parasites away and MitesBGone to ward off chicken mites. We also make sure that we change the bedding mix once it gets soiled or wet.

 

The amount of material you use should correspond to the nesting box size as well – you want the nesting box to look full without seeming stuffed (and too stuffy for your hens to easily get in and out).

 

Do nesting boxes need to be elevated?

They can be sitting on the floor or raised. Keep in mind, however, that your hens are prey animals, and they’re easily startled during egg laying time. Nesting boxes that are elevated will help your chickens feel safer and prompt egg laying better than those on the ground. It also keeps the roosters from bothering them during a private moment. It’s also easier to keep poopy shavings away if you elevate the chicken nesting boxes.

 

How high should nesting boxes be off the ground?

18 inches to 2 feet is best so that all your hens can reach them. Chickens can’t fly very well – heavy breeds like brahmas or specialized breeds like silkies don’t fly much at all. So, you’ll want the boxes easily accessible, and any higher than 2 feet might be difficult for some breeds to reach.

 

If you plan to install the boxes higher (or if your coop came with them elevated), it would be great if you also install a perch or ladder to help the flightless members of your flock.

 

When should you open nesting boxes for chickens?

Once hens reach their laying stage at approximately 17 weeks, you can cut the ribbon and pop the champagne! At this stage they will already be accustomed to sleeping in the roosts they won’t get into the habit of sleeping where they should be laying.

 

How do you get chickens to lay eggs in a nesting box?

If your hens aren’t naturally using their nesting boxes, you should first try to figure out why. Are they not safe? Is the area too noisy? Are they dirty? Do your hens free range (which means they might choose a different location to lay)? Again, hens lay where they find it safe and comfortable. Make the nesting box bedding fluffy and clean. You can also use nesting herbs to attract your hens, and if you get really stuck, you can put training eggs in the boxes. These are fake eggs you put in nesting boxes to let pullets know that that is where they should lay their eggs. While this seems silly, chickens really do take the hint!

 

If your hens insist on laying their eggs everywhere, you can block the “wrong” places. This makes them go on a hunt for another safe place.

 

Just remember that if your nesting boxes aren’t:

  • Quiet
  • Clean
  • Dark

You might have a hard time getting your hens to use it!

 

How big do nesting boxes need to be?

Your chicken nesting box size is also important when talking about comfort. 14” x 14” x 16” boxes would be cozy enough for Brahmas, Ameraucanas, Araucanas, and other breeds. Consider how large your chicken is – you want the nesting boxes to be big enough for your hens, but not so big that they feel unsafe or exposed (remember, dark nesting boxes are best!).

 

How do you stop chickens from pooping in their nesting boxes?

It can be hard to stop them pooping in their boxes – chickens (like all birds) don’t have a bladder, so when they gotta go, they just go. Additionally chickens poop and lay eggs from the same area (the vent), so when your hen is laying an egg, some poop might accidentally slip out.

 

That being said, your chickens are more likely to poop in their boxes when they’re NOT laying an egg – meaning, if they’re using their boxes as a bed.

 

No matter how many nesting boxes per chicken you have, remember that the boxes aren’t their sleeping quarters. That’s what roosts are for.

 

Chickens would only poop in the nesting boxes when they treat them as their home (sleeping in them) because they do a lot of pooping at night. So it is essential for them to be trained to sleep in the roosts first before opening the boxes.

 

If you have chickens using their nesting boxes as a sleeping place, evict them! Shoo them or gently remove your hens when you find them getting too comfortable snoozing in those boxes.

 

How do you keep a nesting box clean?

You need to clean it regularly! Make it part of your egg gathering routine to do some housekeeping. Remove soiled bedding, feathers, and poop that you find. If it’s really gross, you’ll have to completely remove all the bedding and wipe down the laying area. You can use water, all-natural wipes, or other cleaning solutions to do the job.

 

Shavings are the easiest to clean while straw is the hardest! It is also the perfect place for pests to hide so it would also help out big time when you think about what to put in chicken nesting boxes.

 

How do you clean your chicken nesting boxes? Leave a comment below!




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Raising Backyard Hens For Eggs Is Easy!

Raising Backyard Hens For Eggs Is Easy!

If you’re thinking about raising chickens for the first time, you might feel a little bit intimidated by the process. You may even be asking yourself, “how do I get started raising chickens?”

Luckily, chickens are some of the easiest animals you can raise – but it’s important to learn how to do it correctly. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most important information you need to know in order to get started. 

Why Raise Backyard Chickens?

In these uncertain times, a lot of people are concerned about food security. Raising chickens means always having a supply of fresh, organic eggs (even as the prices in the stores skyrocket). 

Chickens are easier to care for than dogs or cats. They only need:

  • A home
  • Food
  • Water
  • Protection from predators
  • Veterinary care as needed

Unlike dogs, you never need to walk them. You can also leave them alone for a couple days (with food, water, and protection from predators) if you need to leave town for a few days. Hens are quiet, and like parrots, these birds can provide companionship. They’re also a great pet for kids!

How Do I Get Started Raising Chickens?

Buy the Chickens!

Your first step in raising chickens? You’ve got to buy the chickens, of course! Don’t rush out to the feed store to purchase your chicks right away. Make sure you have a brooder set up and ready to go so that you have somewhere to put the little fluffy butts. This should include a heat lamp and plenty of food and water. 

If you plan on raising adult chickens, you can skip this step. Otherwise, keep reading – we’ll give you more information on where to buy your chickens below.

Feed

You are also going to need an ample supply of feed to give your chickens. We’ll talk more about this later in the article, but make sure you have your feeders ready to go. 

Waterers

The same rule applies to waterers. You are going to need a water for your chickens so they can stay hydrated at all times. Invest in good water because they can last for quite some time when cared for properly.

A Coop

Last but not least, you’re going to need a coop in which to house your chickens. It doesn’t have to be huge, but there are some considerations you will need to make.

Where Can I Buy Chickens?

The first thing you need to do is purchase your chickens. Decide on your breed first. If you want your chickens to be pets as well as egg producers, some friendly breeds that give lots of eggs are Australorps, Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, Brahmas, and Cochins.

Next, start the search for your birds. Hatcheries are often chosen by beginning chicken keepers because they raise and ship chicks in a safe, humane fashion. Yes, that’s right – you can get mail-order chicks!

When you order from a hatchery, the chicks are sent at one day old and sent directly to the post office. You’ll pick them up there. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of breeds. If you;re not allowed to have roosters in your neighborhood, you have the option to purchase only hens (female chickens). 

There are hundreds of hatcheries out there, but it’s important to find one that is reputable. We use Cackle Hatchery, but other good options including Murray McMurray and Meyer Hatchery. Do your research and make sure your hatchery of choice has plenty of positive customer reviews! 

You may also want to check out local farm stores. Most people are familiar with shops like Tractor Supply, Rural King, and Orschelns. The only downside to purchasing chicks from a farm store is that you are often limited to what they have in store. That said, some stores allow you to place an order ahead of time in which you can specify how many and what breed you are interested in buying. 

A final option is to consider local breeders or even your neighbors. The internet is a glorious invention that makes it possible for us to find chicks for sale just about anywhere! Just remember to inspect your chicks carefully before you bring them home to make sure they are healthy. 

Want to learn more about where you can buy baby chicks? Here’s a helpful resource to get you started.

How Much Should I Pay for a Chicken?

In most cases, a baby chick will cost less than $4 apiece. Often, that price is quoted by hatcheries with all expenses – including shipping fees – rolled in. After all, buying chicks should not break the bank! 

Hatcheries will sometimes offer discounts if you buy in bulk – with discounts usually given for purchases of 25, 50, or 100 birds – or if you purchase unsexed chicks. 

You can also purchase adult chickens that are ready to lay. While the price of these can vary widely depending on the breed and age of the bird, try not to pay more than $10 to $20. It’s very easy for you to find yourself scammed or overcharged!

If you want to buy adult chickens, keep an eye out for free birds on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and via other Facebook groups. Again just be aware of scams and don’t be afraid to ask for health records for the birds!

What Do Chickens Eat?

Chickens are easy creatures to feed, but you will need to pay attention to what you are feeding them – especially in the early days.

Young chicks (those under the age of 16 weeks) need to be fed a chick starter ration. This contains 18% protein and all the nutrients your chicks need to be healthy. You can purchase chick starter from your local farm store. If you want it shipped directly to your home, you can purchase chick starter from our website here. 

Once your chickens get a bit older, you’ll need to provide them with alternative feed. Laying feed is fine for laying hens – it contains extra calcium – while broiler feed is best for meat birds. If you want layer feed shipped directly to your door, visit our store here

Now, chickens are some of the best backyard pets you can raise because they are incredibly versatile creatures that can be fed a wide variety of scraps and leftovers. If you want to read a full list of what chickens can and cannot eat, be sure to check out this post

frugal feeds chicken water feeder hacks

What Type of Waterers Are Best?

Having plenty of fresh, clean water at all times is just as important as having plenty of fresh feed. Although you can use basic waterers from Amazon (here’s some options), or even just a dog bowl with water for your adult chickens, you’ll need to be more careful about how you give water to young chicks. 

Chicks can easily drown in open bowls of water, and while some people simply put rocks or pebbles in the bottom of their adult chicken waterer to prevent this, accidents can still happen. Therefore, you will want to use a mason jar-style waterer, which tends to be much safer to use. Here’s a video that will walk you through everything you need to know about chicken waterers. 

What Type of Coop is Best?

You can purchase your own chicken coop on Amazon or you can build your own chicken coop. Here are some free plans to help you get started. There are all kinds of styles you can choose from, including coops that are portable and meant to be moved every day, those that are designed for small flocks, and those that are best for oversized breeds. 

Either way, remember that you will need at least six to ten feet of space per bird in your coop. You’ll need even more than that out in the run, so make sure you leave plenty of outdoor space for your birds, too. 

Also in the coop, you will need to leave room for nesting boxes and roost bars. The roost bars should be no more than a few feet off the ground and positioned away from the nesting boxes. 

You can purchase a coop for as little as $200 on Amazon. But remember that any structure can serve as shelter, as long as it’s dry, draft-free, and provides protection from predators. So, if you have a garden shed or even an old play house that’s no longer used by your kids, you have the start of a great coop!

How Much Room Do Chickens Need?

Experts recommend 10 square feet of space per chicken. So, if you have 3 hens, then your coop should be 30 square feet. Your flock will also need a fenced-in run so they can get sunshine and exercise! If you can’t build a run, don’t worry. While it’s not ideal (due to predators), you can allow your chickens to run around your yard part of the day to stretch their wings.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I keep my chickens safe from predators?

There are all kinds of creatures that like munching on chickens! From raccoons to coyotes, weasels to foxes, your chickens need to be protected from these threats. The easiest way to do this is to build a strong, secure chicken coop that can withstand any threat. Make sure it has no openings or gaps through which a predator can sneak and lock your chickens in each and every night.

You can find more tips on how to make your chicken coop predator-safe here

What temperature is best for baby chicks?

As with all baby animals, young chicks are extremely susceptible to temperature fluctuations when they are first born. Baby chicks need to be kept in a warm place until they have all their feathers. 

The brooder should be at least 95-100 degrees for the first two weeks of their lives, and then reduced five degrees each week until the chicks reach four weeks old.

Not sure if your chicks are too warm or too cold? Here’s a video that will tell you quick ways you can figure it out. 

What kind of nesting boxes do I need?

You can build your own nesting boxes or you can purchase some prebuilt ones from the farm store or Amazon. Whichever you choose, make sure you have at least one nesting box for every four chickens. You’ll Want to fill it with fresh, clean bedding and check it at least once a day to keep it from becoming overrun with eggs.

Here are some more tips on what to look for and consider when researching nesting boxes. 

When do chickens start laying eggs?

Wondering when all of your hard work is going to pay off – and your chickens are going to start laying eggs? If you’ve purchased layers, they should begin laying eggs right away. 

You can learn more about when chickens start laying eggs by watching this video, but as a general rule of thumb, baby chicks start laying when they’re six months old. Some breeds, like White Leghorns, Sex Links, and Australorps start laying as early as sixteen weeks old, but others can take up to eight months to start laying.

How often do chickens lay eggs? 

Most hens lay four to five eggs each week, but some breeds (like Production Reds) lay more and some less (such as Mille Fleurs). You can encourage better laying patterns by feeding a high-quality feed. Check out this article for more information!

Final Thoughts

Getting started with backyard chickens is very easy – and chickens are simple to care for! As long as they have shelter, food, water, protection from predators, and appropriate veterinary care, they’ll do great! If you do decide to dive right in, we have all the resources you need on this website! If you’re not sure, and have a million questions, then reach out to us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Is Layer Feed Really Necessary?

Is Layer Feed Really Necessary?

Heard about this thing called “layer feed,” but not sure how it’ll help your chickens? Unsure if your chickens’ diet is the best? In this article, you’ll learn all about layer feed, and why it’s critical to raising a healthy flock!

Living things need to eat. In fact, that might be one of the biggest motivators for gathering a group of chickens in our barns and sheds. We look after them, and they provide us with collections of eggs and meat. If you read our article about what chickens can eat, you know that to produce an adequate supply of eggs for us, our hens need the right nutrients for the job.

To aid in this, industry experts created specially-created feeds called layer feed. These feeds help hens with egg production. They also some smaller bonuses to our chickens.

What Is Layer Feed?

Layer feed is a mixture that helps chickens grow strong and healthy. It offers them a balanced mix of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It’s feed specifically for laying hens, and has healthy amounts of protein and calcium. Your hens need a lot of both to lay healthy eggs!

Example of layer feed ingredients

How Much Protein Should A Layer Feed Be?

A feed with 16-18% protein is best, with the right nutrients for your chickens to remain healthy. A layer feed isn’t the same as a chick starter, which is formulated for baby chickens.

A common question we get is about how to switch to a layer feed from chick starter. For the first part of your chickens’ lives, they should be on starter and grower feeds. Then once they begin laying, you should switch them to a layer feed. It’s easiest to switch gradually over the course of a week. A sudden switch could lead to diarrhea and other gastric problems.

Laying hens will eat about a quarter pound of feed each day. Free-ranging hens need less than this, as they will be foraging for much of their own feed. Despite their foraging, they will still need a significant amount of layer feed to help maintain a proper nutritional balance.

You might wonder can roosters eat layer feed, since they don’t lay eggs. In short, yes they can. They’ll be perfectly healthy. It’s unrealistic to house roosters and hens together and feed different meals.

Can Chicks Eat Layer Feed?

Your chicks have different dietary requirements than your fully-grown chickens. They will need different nutrients. Layer feed has extra calcium, which can cause your chicks to not grow correctly. It’s always best to feed your baby chickens an 18% starter ration.

Does Layer Feed Have Grit?

No, it does not. Grit is a coarse and abrasive material that chickens can safely ingest. It helps them grind up and properly digest food. It has no nutritional value, so you should offer it separately. You can read more about grit here.

Can Broiler Chickens Get Layer Feed?

Broiler chickens need a higher protein percentage than egg layers. The best feed for them are these heavier protein content feeds. In a pinch, your broilers would not suffer from layer feed. But the lower protein content might mean your chickens are smaller than expected.

How Much Does Layer Feed Cost?

Layer feed can range in price. A budget feed at your local farm store might cost about $.50-.60 / lb. If you are looking for non-GMO or organic homemade mixes, they will be a little more expensive. But your chickens will have a better diet. This is the Non-GMO layer feed we use.

Should I Make Homemade Layer Feed?

Whether to make homemade layer feed vs. store-bought layer feed is up to you. It depends on your lifestyle, free time, and the particulars of your farms. There are many recipes available online (like this one here). The following is a list of ingredients that are most often included in homemade layer feeds.

  • Oat groats
  • Regular naked oats
  • Black sunflower seeds, 
  • Hard red wheat
  • Soft white wheat
  • Kamut flour
  • Millet
  • Whole corn
  • Crack corn
  • Popcorn
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Sesame seeds
  • Brewers’ yeasts
  • Sea kelp
  • Alfalfa
  • Barley
  • Fish meal
  • Flax seed
  • Food-grade lime or aragonite

Each ingredient brings its own value into the mix: oils, protein content, nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, calcium, and energy. The ratio of ingredients can vary, and the higher protein ingredients will probably be more expensive than the grains. As a result, the grains will usually compose the bulk of the homemade layer feeds. Seeds and supplements like peas will certainly be more expensive, but they add tons of nutrients and variety to the layer feed.

You can extra supplements depending on the season. If it’s time for a worming or mite-prevention cleansing, food grade diatomaceous earth, garlic, or cider vinegar can all be added to help with keeping your birds’ bodies healthy – both inside and outside. You can give these supplements temporarily or long-term. You can mix the ingredients into garbage pails or metal pails by hand.

One of the biggest advantages of using store-bought layer feeds is the scientific measurements of protein. Excess protein can create problems in many barnyard animals. Renal dysfunction is one problem that does occur with too extreme a protein quantity. But a low protein content can result in smaller or abnormal eggs. It can also cause your chickens to stop laying and/or to become flighty.

You also might wonder whether you should ferment chicken feed. There are many resources online that show you how to ferment chicken (here’s ours). It’s certainly not necessary, but it’s very easy. The main idea is to submerge your flock’s feed under water, and allow beneficial bacteria to grow. If you’re worried about gut health, and want to do everything possible for your flock, then fermenting feed might be for you! You can also ferment chick starter.

Do Pullets Prefer Store-Bought Layer Feeds To Homemade Layer Feeds?

This is a very specific question that requires significantly more research for a definitive answer. Current observations show that there is no preference. Picky eaters are everywhere, so there just might be one in your flock. Chickens are live creatures, and some can certainly be more picky than others. If this is a research question that you decide to pursue, please let us know! We would love to hear your results!

Is Layer Feed Really Necessary?

There will always be people who think layer feeds are unnecessary. And in some situations, they’re possibly right. But industry studies show that a 16% layer feed is the basis of a good diet. Personally, I would stick to “tried-and-true” facts.

Where To Buy Layer Feed

Layer feeds are available everywhere, and we even sell our own – and very popular – blend right here. Petco, Tractor Supply, and even Wal*Mart all stock layer feeds. Chances are good that a simple Google search of “layer feed” and “nearby” will net you a source for the feeds.

Photo of our layer feed

Layer feeds have become a single stop for your egg-laying hens. They are easy to mix, contain a good balance of ingredients for your little ladies, and help your flock produce the “butt nuggets” we all know and love. By looking after the eating habits of our girls, we are improving the quality of our own food: our eggs.

Can You Freeze Eggs?

Can You Freeze Eggs?

Thinking about freezing chicken eggs because you’re getting so many? Read on for my best tips!

 

Eggs are incredibly valuable: within them lie the blueprints of life. But they’re also sustenance. The vast amount of cultures that raise chickens across the world has made their eggs one of – if not the – most important egg on the planet. 

 

While most of us want to eat eggs as soon as possible, often, we’re left with WAY too many of them!

 

While you have many options for preserving eggs, freezing is the easiest and one of the safest ways to make sure you have “butt nuggets” on hand whenever you want them. (This goes for chicken eggs and duck eggs).

 

Then, when it is time to use them, they can be thawed for any and all of our culinary dreams. This is truly a wonderful fact that can add some versatility to this egg-cellent ingredient. 

 

However, if we are going to freeze eggs, there are some key details to consider first.

can you freeze eggs in shells

How quickly should you freeze eggs?

If you are going to freeze your eggs, it is better to do so sooner than later. A few days at room temperature or in the fridge is about the maximum length of time you should wait before freezing them (learn how to tell if eggs are fresh here). That way, you are using only the freshest eggs you can put into your freezer. As eggs should only be frozen for about a year before they are used, dating your storage containers is recommended. 

 

No Shells Allowed!

As anyone who accidentally leaves eggs in their coop during a snowstorm can attest, eggs expand as they freeze, which can (and probably will) result in enough pressure on their shells to break them. As a result, eggs should never be frozen in shells. Cracking them into a container also ensures that you’re not using valuable space to store any eggs that might have problems: veins, lash eggs (yuck!), partially-incubated chickens (yes, it can happen), or other egg abnormalities. You’ll also want to wash your eggs first – you don’t want flecks of dirt, bacteria, or manure to get into your whites or yolk prior to freezing.

 

Should you separate yolks and egg whites?

When people ask “can you freeze eggs,” they next ask whether they should freeze the WHOLE egg, or  separate whites and yolk. 

 

It’s a good question, because the yolk and albumen are very difficult to separate once they have already been frozen. If you only plan using eggs for dinner – in stir-fry, breakfast cooking styles, salads, or in meat recipes – then cracking them straight into your storage receptacle is ideal.

 

If you plan to bake or do any cooking that requires just yolk or egg white, then separating white from yolk would be the better option. (Here’s a ton of recipes that use eggs!)

 

Either way is fine, but if you plan to store your eggs whole, then consider beating them just past the blending point. Doing this prevents the yolks from taking on a gelatinous consistency, which can be very difficult to cook with.

 

How to store just egg whites

Whites are relatively easy to store. Break the egg, and separate out the yolk, being careful to avoid getting any yolk in them. Then pour the whites into your receptacle of choice, and freeze. The best containers for whites are ice cube trays or in large freezer bags. Label them with the date of storage and quantity of eggs.

 

How to freeze the yolk

Yolks are trickier, because the freezing process causes them to thicken or gel. Once gelled, their usage diminishes significantly, and while it might be possible to find a use for them, the uses of gelled yolks are quite few and far between.

 

For every 4 yolks, you should beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1.5 teaspoons sugar. Be sure to label the bag with when they were frozen and whether they have been beaten with sugar or salt. Pulling out sweetened yolks for a main dish, or salted yolks for a dessert isn’t the best idea!

 

Ready, Set, Cook!

When you are ready to use your frozen eggs, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or under running cool or cold water. Then, as soon as they are thawed, put them to use.

 

So, can you freeze eggs? The answer is YES! Go for it!

How To Tell If Eggs Are Good (5 Best Ways)

How To Tell If Eggs Are Good (5 Best Ways)

Wondering how to tell if eggs are good? We’ve all been there. 

 

You open the refrigerator, excited to cook a delicious omelet or a healthy scramble. You open the egg carton, only to notice that the expiration date stamped on the cardboard has long since passed.

 

What’s an egg-lover to do? Don’t rush to toss the carton in the trash.

 

A stinking, rotten smell of sulfur is a telltale sign that your eggs are no longer edible, but it’s not the only technique that you can follow. Expiration dates are good estimations of how long you can let eggs sit in your refrigerator – but as mere approximations, they aren’t always reliable on their own.

 

Here are some of the best methods of how to tell if eggs are good – with or without an expiration date.

 

How long do eggs stay fresh?

Good info about how long eggs stay fresh!

Posted by I Love Backyard Chickens on Thursday, November 22, 2018

 

When Do Eggs Usually Go Bad?

Believe it or not, not all eggs go bad at exactly the same time – and you can’t always trust the posted dates. 

 

Remember that the estimated freshness and longevity of eggs is determined by the American Egg Board, an association whose job it is to increase national demand for products on behalf of U.S. egg producers – it wants you to buy more eggs, so the dates are going to be more conservative. 

 

Nevertheless, these dates are good first lines of defense against food borne illness. Eggs can usually last in the refrigerator for about 30 days after packing. When you look at your egg carton, you may see a variety of dates, including a sell-by, expiration, or pack-by date. Usually, you’re safe to eat eggs within 21-30 days of any of these dates. 

 

The quality of the egg will usually start to decline after a certain date, but will still usually be safe to eat. Unfortunately, if you are eating your own farm-fresh eggs, determining freshness and safety without an expiration date can be a bit more tricky. 

 

Usually, raw whole eggs are safe to eat for about four or five weeks, while raw eggs that have been processed in any way (for example, separated egg whites and yolks or hard-boiled eggs) are only safe for about two to seven days. Once heat has been applied or the eggshell has been removed, there is a greater likelihood that bacteria is going to interfere with the freshness of the egg.

 

How To Tell if Eggs are Good Past the Expiration Date

Unless you’ve cooked the eggs or altered them in some way, don’t toss them just because the expiration date has passed. As with meat and produce, it’s pretty easy to tell whether your eggs have gone bad without needing to look at the expiration date. 

 

Remember, refrigeration preserves the quality of the egg quite dramatically, so as long as your eggs have been stored properly, you have a bit of extra insurance.

 

Here are some easy methods of how to tell if your eggs are good.

How to Tell How Old Your Eggs Really Are

This is GENIUS! Chicken eggs only stay good for so long….

Posted by I Love Backyard Chickens on Sunday, September 24, 2017

Step One: The Visual Inspection

If you’ve already sniffed your eggs and can’t tell whether they’ve gone bad or not, using your eyes is another great way to tell whether your eggs are safe to eat. 

 

Before cracking your egg, make sure the shell is not cracked. A crack can not only indicate the presence of bacteria, but a crack can cause an egg to spoil more quickly than it would if it were contained in an unbroken shell.

 

You should also look out for a slimy or powdery appearance on the egg. A powdery appearance can indicate mold, while sliminess can be a sign of bacterial growth. 

 

Step Two: Eggs in the Bowl 

It sounds like the name of a fun Easter scavenger hunt, but this method simply refers to the act of placing your egg in a bowl of water to determine whether it is still fresh or not. This is also called “the egg float test.”

 

 

Eggs are porous, and the liquid that is contained inside the egg evaporates over time, replacing the liquid with additional outside air. When the egg fills with air, it will float. Therefore, by placing an egg in a bowl filled with cold water, you can determine whether it is safe to eat. An egg that sinks to the bottom and lays flat on its side is still fresh, while on that floats to the surface is no longer fresh.

 

What if your egg stands on one end at the bottom of the bowl? It’s still probably safe to eat, but it won’t be as fresh. 

 

Step Three: Audio Test

The audio test of determining egg freshness works according to the same science as the one above – older eggs begin to fill with air. 

 

To conduct the audio test, simply hold an egg to your ear and shake it. You’ll need to have good hearing, but if you can hear a sloshing sound inside the egg, you need to toss it – it’s not safe to eat.

Step Four: Crack ‘n Sniff

Here’s where we get more advanced. Perhaps you’ve tried the steps above and aren’t convinced that your egg is fresh – but you also don’t know for sure that it’s spoiled. Here’s what you need to do.

 

Crack the egg into a pan. Before you continue cooking, it’s important to make sure the egg isn’t loaded with nasty egg-borne bacteria. 

 

Take a close look at the egg. If it’s fresh, the yolk will be a bright yellow or orange and the whites should stay right in place. They may spread out a little bit, but they won’t be overly runny. Similarly, the yolks of older eggs may appear flattened or discolored. In particular, keep an eye out for any black, blue, pink, or green shades in the whites and yolk – this can be a sign of bacterial growth.

 

If either of these criteria is evident when you crack your eggs, discard them. If you still aren’t convinced, give the questionable egg in the pan a sniff. If it doesn’t have a smell, it’s probably safe to eat, but you might want to hard boil the rest of the eggs as they’ll taste fresher this way.

 

Step Five: Flashlight Test

If you have ever hatched your own baby chicks at home, you might already be familiar with the flashlight test, also known as “candling” an egg. You can easily use the candling or flashlight method as a way to tell if eggs are good in the kitchen, too. 

 

To do this, venture into a dark room with a flashlight. Any small flashlight or reading light will do. Place the flashlight so that the light is shining up into the large end of the egg. Tilt the egg and move it quickly from left to right. 

 

This will allow the contents of the egg to be illuminated. Look closely at what’s inside. You should be able to see the air cells in the egg. The fresher an egg is, the thinner and smaller the air pockets will be. 

 

How to Keep Eggs Fresher – For Longer

Do you feel as though your eggs begin to spoil as soon as you get them home from the grocery store? If so, you could be making a simple mistake in storing them. Although some refrigerators are equipped with egg compartments in the door, this is actually not the best place to store them – they will experience too many temperature fluctuations here. 

 

Instead, store your eggs in the main part of the refrigerator, where it’s colder and the temperature is more stable. If you are eating eggs from your own chickens, avoid washing them until you’re ready to use them. 

 

The outer layer of the egg contains bloom, a covering that helps prevent the buildup of bacteria and also works to preserve freshness. And don’t worry if you see a blood spot in the yolk. It’s perfectly safe to eat and is simply a sign of a fertilized egg.

 

You can also freeze your eggs if you have more than you know you will use in a given time frame. Frozen eggs will cook up just like fresh eggs, but the freezing process will help to keep your eggs fresher for longer. 

 

Why It’s Important to Know How to Tell if Eggs Are Good

You may eat eggs every day, or they may be an occasional treat in your household.

 

Whatever the case may be, it’s important for you to know how to tell if eggs are good or not. Not only can these strategies prevent you from unnecessarily throwing away safe, delicious eggs, but they can also help keep you safe from food borne illnesses.

 

Food borne diseases that are caused by bacteria, such as Salmonella, often produce eggs that look, smell, and appear completely normal. Therefore, it’s not only important to conduct these other tests but to make sure you completely and fully cook your egg to a safe temperature before you go ahead and eat it. 

 

And remember, even if you can’t eat your eggs because they’re past their prime, there are plenty of ways to avoid wasting them. Use the eggshells in your garden as a fertilizer or pest repellent, and in the meantime, maybe whip up some cereal for breakfast instead.