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Heated nesting boxes help stop frozen eggs!

Tired of frozen eggs? Learn about Heating your nesting boxes here. Step by step photos included.
  1. RonP
    Last winter was unusually cold for my area, with days turning to weeks of temperatures way below freezing.

    My schedule allowed me to gather my eggs twice a day, 8am and 8pm.

    For weeks I had cracked frozen eggs. Literally dozens of eggs were deemed unfit for human consumption, and fed back the the birds.
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    I Quote:
    US FDA says:
    "Shell eggs should not be frozen. If an egg accidentally freezes and the shell cracked during freezing, discard the egg. Keep any uncracked eggs frozen until needed; then thaw in the refrigerator. These can be hard cooked successfully but other uses may be limited. That's because freezing causes the yolk to become thick and syrupy so it will not flow like an unfrozen yolk or blend very well with the egg white or other ingredients."

    My solution was to heat the nesting boxes (3 boxes in total).

    Materials used:

    Seedling heat mats. Each uses 17 watts. Water proof construction. UL listed.
    [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    CONSTRUCTION:

    I began by cleaning the 16" cube nesting box out completely.
    [​IMG]
    I cut a 1" hole in the top of the box to insert the power cord of the seed mat.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Then installed mat to box using paint sticks and screws. The mat bends easily when warm.
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    I covered the mats with the leaf bags, a perfect fit at 16" width. Disposable when soiled.
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    I covered the leaf bags with shredded junk mail, easily replaced and plentiful, and inserted some ceramic eggs in each box
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Connected the 3 boxes to the power cord extension
    [​IMG]
    Connected the power cord extension to the power strip, which has the thermo cube and LED night light to show when thermo cube is powered on
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    The power strip is connected to the light timer, set to turn on at 5:30am, off at 9:00pm. Note that the power to the lights are on the first timer outlet, which first goes through a photocell, so lights only are only on when needed. All power comes from a GFIC outlet. All wiring is inaccessible to the flock.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Summary:

    The light timer supplies power on at 5:30am, off at 9:00pm.
    The Thermo cube powers the mats only when temps reach below 35F, and off at 45F
    The mats heat the nesting material to around 20 degrees above ambient temperatures.

    The "Heated Nest Boxes" help keep the eggs from freezing till temperatures reach around 10F.

    Hope this helps others!

    Update:

    We had an unusually cold February 2015 for my area, many day temperatures only in the teens.

    My schedule allowed egg collection once around 8AM and once around 8PM.

    My coldest recorded egg temperature was 33F, significantly above the 28F threshold for egg freezing.

    That particular day, daytime high temperatures in the coop were in the low teens (13F), and the eggs were collected at 8:30pm, when ambient temperature was 11F and falling (nighttime lows reached below 0F, unusual for our area).

    The heated nest boxes worked as designed, flawlessly!

    I had 0 frozen eggs, whereas the previous year I had literally dozens...

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Comments

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  1. RonP
    I have done nothing to them all year...using the shredded junk mail, I have never had to change out the leaf bags ...just handfuls of littered junk mail, rarely, tossed into the outdoor deep litter run.
    We did have a freeze spell, this season to date, and they still work flawlessly.
    I don't even think about the eggs freezing anymore...
  2. COChix
    Hi Ron, you still using the seed mats? Wondering how they held up?
  3. RonP
    Year end summation in case anyone actually reads this:
    Automated heated nesting boxes worked flawlessly.

    We had a cold winter for NJ.
    I did not have a single egg freeze, winter season 2014/15!
  4. Brookliner
    I have been very successful keeping my eggs unfrozen using my bantam hen who is broody 365 days a year. She pulls every egg laid into her nest and sits on them until we collect them. It is entertaining watching her collect them. She uses her breast and beak to move the eggs.
  5. RonP
    Update:

    We have had an unusually cold February for my area, many day temperatures only in the teens.

    My schedule allows egg collection once around 8AM and once around 8PM.

    The heated nest boxes are working as designed, flawlessly!

    This year to date I have had 0 frozen eggs, whereas last year I had literally dozens...

    My coldest recorded egg temperatures was 33F, significantly above the 28F threshold for egg freezing.

    That particular day, daytime high temperatures in the coop were in the low teens, and the eggs were collected at 8:30pm.
  6. RonP
    If it's in the coop, it subjected to dust, period! Wires are not a problem, outlets of course are. All circuits are minimum double GFCI protected, hang vertically, and I dust (leaf blower hanging on coop wall) often enough to minimise and clean any build up.
  7. pdirt
    Ron - very nice write-up. How far away from your chickens do you have all those wires? It looks like a whole lot of wires/outlets/etc...that plenty of chicken dust can get into and potentially short out a wire/outlet and start a fire. But if it's a ways away from your chickens, that would reduce the amount of chicken dust.
  8. Sydney Acres
    Lori Marie, I use seedling heat mats under 2 inches of aspen shavings in my brooder to keep the floor warm for the chicks (see my post above on 12/22/14). I don't put them in a plastic bag, as the mats are already plastic or rubber, and they get wet when I use them for seed germination without problems. I also use them under some 3/4 inch soft foam tiles (like stall mats, but soft), then covered by one inch of aspen shaving in my geriatric chickens house. They've never gotten too warm, but they're always covered by more than an inch of material.
  9. ellend
    Re: cracked eggs: Bacteria are microscopic, and very plentiful even on completely clean-looking, fresh eggs. If cracked, the ARE contaminated, and bacteria are growing exponentially. Have I ever used them? Yes. Would I feed them to somebody else? No--ESPECIALLY children, elderly, or immune compromised people (certain medications, chemotherapy, known or unknown cancers/leukemias) or pregnant people.
  10. RonP
    Lori Marie, In my trials, the mat does not get all that hot for concern. I have them under dry paper.

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