Why no washing/disinfecting eggs?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by BlacksheepCardigans, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've spent about a week reading everything I can on bacterial infections and egg hatching. I got interested because it seems like everybody just says "Oh well, blood ring," or "Oh well, didn't pip," and that's that. It seemed to me that it shouldn't be OK for lots of chicks to be dying due to bacterial stuff.

    What I find is interesting - every piece of research says that the whole "eggs are perfect inside as long as you leave the bloom on" idea is completely false. Eggs are immediately vulnerable to bacteria and they are full of salmonella and e. coli inside the egg within minutes of exposure.

    And - EVERYTHING I find says that you're supposed to disinfect the eggs. Every study examining hatchability says disinfecting the shells improves hatch rate.

    In the commercial and university hatcheries, they won't even attempt to hatch anything visibly dirtied or smeared. They will only accept visually perfect eggs. And they're STILL disinfecting every single one, and consider it vital to getting a good hatch.

    I have to say, this has 1) made me really wary of any egg with smears on it, 2) made me determined to change nest box materials very frequently, and 3) made me wonder why in the world we're not dipping/spraying/washing hatching eggs as a matter of course.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Klukkin Ken

    Klukkin Ken Out Of The Brooder

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    Take this with a grain of salt as I have never hatched any eggs and I am not wanting to sound bad by saying this, but that seems a little ridiculous to me. How would a hen disinfect her own eggs when she sits on them naturally? I'm sure the hen has plenty of bacteria on her feathers.
     
  3. blefky

    blefky life in the yard

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    Just brainstorming here, as I'm relatively new, but as with any research, I would want to know who conducted it, how it was conducted, etc. Any research is only as good as the researcher's methods. If the bloom passed to chicken eggs was not, at the very least, somewhat capable of protecting the egg's contents would wild fowl not have died out? And, as a matter of course, nestboxes should be kept clean - that's just good maintenance. It doesn't surprise me that any information coming from commercial operations are in favor of disinfecting eggs as, from my own bits of research, their operations seem largely filthy and therefore the high levels of bacteria might be more of an issue than for a relatively "clean" backyard set up. Again, just thinking out loud, but I also wonder if, given the use of prophylactic antibiotics, many commercial operations aren't now dealing with resistant strains of bacteria. That's a whole different ball game.
    One last thought, the reason I'm not in favor of dipping or disinfecting eggs is that avoiding that nastiness is one of the main reasons I began keeping laying hens in the first place. I think that you will find many, many people on BYC who have good hatch rates without disinfecting.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  4. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We keep them unnaturally, though. I think we keep them ethically, but certainly not in the way that their bodies and eggs evolved to live. In the wild the egg would not be anywhere near someone else's poop, nor would the hen poop near them herself. She wouldn't have soiled feet, either. She'd choose a nest location that was not shared, far from any established travel corridors, and they'd be as untouched by bacteria as it's possible to get in the real world. In a coop, even a really big/nice coop, they're exposed to bacteria at a concentration that they'd never be in the wild. So you can't really use the "the hen wouldn't" argument, because once you're keeping them out of the wild the hen is doing about a thousand things she wouldn't.
     
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  5. blefky

    blefky life in the yard

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    I agree that our hens are in closer proximity to one another than a nesting hen would be in the wild, but bacteria, both "good" and "bad" exist everywhere. And, again, if the coop and run are well maintained they are not cesspools of filth otherwise there wouldn't be as many successful backyard hatchers as there are. And I still insist that, at least for me personally, the use of the chemicals is much more ominous for both our birds and, by extension, ultimately for us. Again, I am a relative newcomer, always looking to become more educated (and BYC is a great place for that!), but I am really much more comfortable remaining as naturally and holistically oriented as possible.
     
  6. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Please understand that I'm not talking about eating eggs. It IS a myth that there's no salmonella in backyard flocks, but as long as you cook the egg well you should be safe no matter what's out there. I'm not at all germ-phobic about eating eggs.

    You can disinfect eggs with 3% hydrogen peroxide - same stuff you buy at the drug store. You don't need "chemicals," though honestly that word doesn't really mean anything. There are no genuinely harmful compounds used to disinfect eggs, because they'd kill the embryo.

    What I'm talking about is the fact that we lose a lot of hatching eggs, we TALK about the fact that bacteria got in there (every time somebody talks about a blood ring it's in connection to bacterial growth), but we still say not to wash them. No matter how dirty. Flick off the poop and incubate. The bloom is somehow all-protective.

    If the bloom was really that magically protective, there wouldn't have been bacteria in the egg that killed the embryo. Disinfecting improves hatching rates. You can disinfect with very safe stuff. So why is it so "forbidden"?
     
  7. blefky

    blefky life in the yard

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    I'll be interested to read what the more experienced have to offer. [​IMG]
     
  8. SarahIrl

    SarahIrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't put liquid on an egg to clean it as the surface is porous and it will get inside the egg. Hence the idea that washing them is bad as it draws in the liquid used to wash them and also any surface waterbourne bacteria. If you boil an egg in food dyed water, the surface of the white will also be coloured. So, I simply brush off the worst bits of mud/muck/straw from bedding ( remember this happens in clean beds too as eggs are wet when first laid and will get bits stuck to them naturally) and for the more stubborn bits take a soft nail board and work off the rest. Any dried dust/muck that won't come off by hand/dry cloth/nail board, stays on. I have had spotless eggs get blood rings/stop developing/not hatch and filthy dirty smudged ones hatch out perfect chicks. However, I do not wash them or allow ANY liquids on my eggs for hatching, and if I order eggs request tehy are not wet in any way. Works ok for me - average 75-80% hatch rate, including shipped eggs.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  9. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    I usually wash all mine with very hot water.

    When I see people preaching to not wash them I assume they are still relatively new at incubating an haven't learned the hard way yet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
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  10. SarahIrl

    SarahIrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ooooooooooh, I am trying to be very 'on the fence' here but washing with hot water would be my least favourite practice, you can damage the membranes doing that. They heat and thicken, making air exchange through the shell very difficult. This is essential for a healthy chick to grow. I patched an egg this year (see pic below) as it had a cracked shell but intact membranes, and it is now the lovely big baby roo pictured under it. Nobody expected it to work. I used candle wax and though as nealry 50% of the shell was covered, it would suffocate. I scraped off as much as I could when locking down at day 18 and it was fine, none te worse for wear. Good to know candle wax isn't toxic to chicks!!

    [​IMG] and candled [​IMG]

    brahma roo

    [​IMG]
     

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