This article was originally a poster I made for 4H, but then I decided to make it into an article so others can enjoy it. It took a long time, but I finally finished, so here it is. I added in more information, and kept most of the old ideas too.

In this article I will be referring to eggs from the store as “store eggs,” and eggs from trusted farms and backyard chickens who get to roam outside “farm eggs”.

Note that when I say hens, I mean pullets and hens, and by layers I mean the same thing.


The 'Eggs'periment:
Hens and pullets add a protective layer, called the egg bloom to the shell. The egg bloom keeps bacteria out of the egg, preventing it from rotting for months. However, when an egg is washed, the egg bloom comes off, letting the eggs rot. I wanted to know how long it would take a washed egg to rot, so I did an experiment.

I washed two eggs, a store egg and a farm egg, on the same day. Then I let them sit around out of the fridge until they rotted. They took two weeks to rot, here is a picture of the first day they touched the surface:


Eggs on the day they rotted. Store egg on the left, farm egg on the right.

They both seemed to rot at the same speed, and it took exactly fourteen days.

Moral: Don’t wash your eggs. It takes off the egg bloom, causing them to rot faster. If you do wash them, keep them in the fridge. With the bloom on, eggs can last several weeks out of the fridge and months in the fridge.


Shell and Yolk
The color of the shell does not make any difference to the taste of the egg. It's just genetic.

The shell of store eggs is much thinner than the eggs from a hen with a good diet. Most hens who lay for stores do not have access to calcium, which causes their shells to be much thinner. You can make your chicken’s egg shells thicker by giving them oyster shells or dried egg shells.

(Fun fact: if you squeeze an egg, applying pressure to all sides evenly, the egg will not break, no matter how hard you squeeze due to the shape of the egg. However, if you press on only one side of the egg, it will break.)


Most farm eggs are deeper in color than store eggs, as you can see in the pictures.


Farm egg on the top, store egg on the bottom.

The color of the yolk depends on the pullet or hen’s diet. Generally speaking, the amount of greens the hen eats affects the yolk color. The more greens they eat, the deeper the color of the yolk (this means it contains more vitamin A and beta carotene).

Most people will agree that eggs from farm or backyard hens have much more taste than eggs from store-chickens. Also, just knowing that your eggs came from healthy, happy chickens can make breakfast taste much better!


Nutrition
It has been proven in more than one scientific study that eggs from free ranging hens are much more nutritious than from chickens contained indoors. Here are the reasons:

-Eggs at the store might be several months old when you buy them. Time does affect the nutrition of eggs; eggs are best when they are only a few weeks old.

-Health. The health of the layers will affect the nutrition of the egg probably more than anything else. If the chickens are sick or eating bad food, that goes into the eggs.

-Eggs from farm and backyard chickens have been proven to have less of the unwanted stuff and more of the good things like vitamins and beta carotene.

-Before eggs go on the shelves at the store, they have to be cleaned, and some company's idea of clean is not healthy. There won’t be any sawdust or feces on the eggs, but there might be chlorine and/or other chemicals that are not nutritious on the shell instead.

I am sure there are more reasons, but these are the most obvious ones.

(Fun fact: eggs have every vitamin except vitamin C!)

Types of Store Eggs
The labels on egg cartons can be misleading. Here is what they really mean:

1. Even if you don’t care for chickens, you have to sympathize for the caged chickens. Most 'caged' egg companies keep their layers in battery cages, which means they are kept in a cage with several other chickens with barely enough room to turn around, and the floor is slanted to make the eggs roll into the right places, but the slant is not good for the chickens' feet.

When a chicken dies, the body is removed as quickly as possible, but it might be awhile before the humans realize it is there, and the other chickens might have to sit with the possibly-diseased body for longer than is healthy.

They are fed pellets, which aren’t bad, but chickens should have more than just plain and boring pellets. Well, they aren't fed just pellets. They also have a lot of antibiotics, chemicals, and other things that are not healthy (but if they are fed antibiotics there is a waiting period before their eggs can be sold again at stores). Chickens should have bugs and greens too. (Here is a good article about it: Feeding Chickens - An Introductory Guide)

Kept in tight spaces like battery cages, diseases can travel very fast from one chicken to the next. Even if the antibiotics try to prevent illnesses, nothing is perfect. And even without diseases, do you really want to eat eggs from chickens kept in these circumstances? After all, some of this unhealthiness has to go into the eggs.


2. Cage free does not mean chickens run around in a sunny meadow with grass and flowers in every direction. Really, cage free birds shove around in a large barn with thousands of other chickens, and there is about one square foot of space per bird, which is better than caged chickens but still not the best.

Cage free birds are more likely to pick on each other, and the air is normally very bad inside the barn.

3. To hold the title free range, the chickens have to have the chance to be outside. You may think this is very good, but there are no rules for this, and most “free range” chickens could have anything from a normal run on dirt to a tiny pen on concrete. The conditions could be just as crowded and miserable as cage free chickens, except that the free range chickens have the chance to get a bit of fresh air during the day.

4. Organic chickens must have access to the outdoors and have a special diet--organic feed and absolutely no pesticides of any sort on their food from the time they are chicks. They also can’t be treated antibiotics of any sort. This is a very good option.

Organic chickens in the US are checked in often by USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), so there can be no cheats there.

5. Pastured chickens should be where the sunny meadow with flowers comes in, and it is in some places. However, there are no terms or rules for pastured birds at all, and not all people are honest. This is one of the best choices if it is a trustworthy company.

Some companies let their chickens run loose in a meadow while others put them in good sized runs that are moved every few hours.



I made a thread about what types of eggs everybody likes best (What type of eggs do you like best?). The majority voted for pastured eggs, but the vote is still open, so it may change.

Now that you have read this article, consider getting your own chickens if you don’t have them already, or perhaps upgrade from buying eggs from caged chickens to organic or pastured chickens.


About author
PioneerChicks
I keep chickens, pigeons, cats, bees, and a rabbit!

I love nature and am working on becoming more self sufficient. I also love using my chicken knowledge to help other people!

If you have any questions or feedback about my article, please comment below or send me a PM. Don't forget to rate and review!

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Great article, very informative!
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Great article. I would love to add one thing for those wondering about keeping excess eggs. I have 6 hens at the moment and a neighbor who also loves my eggs but with 6 ladies I still end up with excess.
Instead of worrying over holding them in the fridge or on the shelf I learned I could take a half dozen eggs, gently beat them until they were fairly well blended then freeze that half dozen in a large cube sized ice cube tray. Once frozen solid I pop them out of the tray and vacuum seal them with a Food saver type set up and toss the bag back in the freezer. They will keep frozen for up to 6 months easily and I have a few dozen eggs for those times of the year my ladies go on rest. I have heard you can do the freeze with the yolk intact but experiments have led me to prefer them beaten lightly instead.
Great article! I got my own ongoing experiment re: How long will a fresh bloom-intact egg will last unrefridgerated. The birds and eggs are kept in unheated basement. Birds are let outside to free range, are provided a healthy layer feed and typical scratch. Yes, their yolks are much darker than store bought and taste SO much better.

We have 1 hen (more a pet that just happens to poop breakfast) named Omelet. This fall we gently took in another stray hen who we named Betty. They are watched over by our big tough sweety of a rooster named Bob. Both hens have resumed laying recently after taking a break for couple months.

Now we have more eggs than we can eat...and we're not big egg eaters to begin with. We just liked the chickens. And the disabled gentleman I care for adores them Caring for the beasties is a good activity for him.

We have never washed our eggs and always leave the bloom on. Rarely refrigerate them. As I write this I have 4 dozen unwashed eggs sitting in my basement some of which have been down there for months since last summer. I'm waiting to see how long it takes for them to go bad if they ever do.

I just now broke open a couple eggs out of each carton and I actually think they're still good. The very old ones the yolks have thickened some but otherwise I'm confident if I hard boiled them they'd be fine. The "newer" eggs are unffected by all the time gone by.

Chickens are remarkable creatures! Best critters to have around for a reliable food source and eggs have an awesome shelf life.

My opinion, don't ever wash until ready to cook. Leave the bloom on, kerp them in a cool place and they'll last a good long time.

Would like to hear from others who have kept unwashed, bloom-intact eggs for a long while and if their older eggs proved to still be edibible.

Thx! I love this site!
PioneerChicks
PioneerChicks
You'll have to keep us informed!

Comments

I'm curious - what is a 4H?
4H is a program for youth to participate in. You can do art, gardening, cooking, archery, sewing, just about any kind of animal, and more.
In here I was particularly talking about poultry 4H. In most animal 4H classes (including poultry) you train yourself in the ways of your animal and at the end of the year you can enter them in the fair to judge both them and yourself.
It is a great learning experience and very fun!
 
Very nice! I'd be curious to know, from the first section of your article, how long would it take the eggs to rot if (a) washed in the fridge; (b) unwashed in the fridge, and (c) unwashed on the counter? Also, what was your definition of "rot?" Did they begin to smell? Was there a change in the shell? Did they explode? Also, did the eggs rot at the same rate or did one rot sooner than the other? Fascinating stuff, I found your "eggsperiment" intriguing!
 
I'm curious - what is a 4H?
The 4 "H"'s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The 4H club focuses on developing these 4 aspects of youth to "make the best better." It's basically an organization with an agricultural emphasis, so kids learn to raise farm animals and compete in county and state fairs. The best animals can then sell for high dollar and I think earn scholarships for the kids.
 
Interesting bit of personal information. I get sick when I eat a store egg but have no problems with a farm eggs. I am very allergic to sulfur-based antibiotics. The store eggs are supposedly antibiotic-free but, the nausea and illness I have is exactly the same as what I experience when I am exposed to those sulfur-based antibiotics. Except... of late sulfur has been putting me in the ER. So, until my ladies start laying again, I'm going eggless.
 
Can you post a picture of your flock? It sounds really neat. I have 7 NH reds, 5 Delawares, 2 blue Cochins, all hens. They are (or will be in March) 3 years old, have gone through their second molt, and are taking an egg laying break.
 
our chicks lay the best tasting eggs....happy chickens equal better eggs than industrialized farm eggs...the yolks are richer, the whites thicker....'can't beat 'em....:) (and we don't wash the bloom off...)
 
Very nice! I'd be curious to know, from the first section of your article, how long would it take the eggs to rot if (a) washed in the fridge; (b) unwashed in the fridge, and (c) unwashed on the counter? Also, what was your definition of "rot?" Did they begin to smell? Was there a change in the shell? Did they explode? Also, did the eggs rot at the same rate or did one rot sooner than the other? Fascinating stuff, I found your "eggsperiment" intriguing!
Maybe I'll research more sometime soon!
 
Interesting bit of personal information. I get sick when I eat a store egg but have no problems with a farm eggs. I am very allergic to sulfur-based antibiotics. The store eggs are supposedly antibiotic-free but, the nausea and illness I have is exactly the same as what I experience when I am exposed to those sulfur-based antibiotics. Except... of late sulfur has been putting me in the ER. So, until my ladies start laying again, I'm going eggless.
Interesting! I hope your girls start laying again soon!
 
Great article but if we don't wash our eggs how do we get the poop off them?
We normally don't wash them at all, but when they are really dirty we wash them right before we use them, or keep them in the fridge and eat them within the next few days.
 
In America the eggs are washed and sanitized and they are still considered good to eat for 100 days from hen to the consumer's plate if refrigerated. That is over 3 months. I am not convinced that an UNwashed egg, left out on the counter in the average home, would be as fresh and safe to eat after 100 days. I want my eggs CLEAN, not poopy, when they go in my fridge or if they are going to sit on my counter or table, or of I am going to put thrm in a carton and sell them. No. Poop! Nobody I sell to keeps eggs around for 3 months anyway. They use them within two weeks or less and are ready for more of my beautiful, clean, dated, farm-fresh, free-range-eggs!
 
Awesome article! I'm sorry I did 4 star - - - I wanted to edit but I hadn't noticed until it was too late. :rolleyes: A Mod deleted It for me and I wanted to do a new one but I can't seem to. :hmm Well, this is a great article!!! Thanks very much for making it!

5 star!
 
This is a great article with good information. I do have a follow up question: Once the eggs are washed and have been refrigerated, how long can they safely state out of the refrigerator for travel, etc?
 

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