Handling Frozen Eggs in Your Nest Boxes
It’s the middle of winter here in Minnesota and temperatures frequently drop below freezing. Many people question my choice to live here, but if they’d experience the other seasons, they would know why. Minnesota is a wonderful place to grow up, raise a family or even just visit! However, I do sometimes wonder if my flock wishes we lived somewhere more mild, but they can’t talk so I’ll never know! Ha!
It's typical for egg production to slow down or even stop during these shorter days in the winter. Egg production relies on the amount of light per day a chicken is exposed to. If your chickens continue to receive anywhere from 12-16 hours of light this winter, their egg production should continue. Unfortunately, this also means that if you’re not getting out to collect eggs very often, you may find them frozen!
Here is what the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) says about frozen eggs. According to the USDA, "Shell eggs should not be frozen. If an egg accidentally freezes and the shell is 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. The egg will not flow like an unfrozen yolk or blend well with the egg white or other ingredients."
So, there you have it, I can't argue with the experts! To be honest, if I go out to my coop and find a cracked frozen egg, I usually just toss it. But there are times when I bring it in, let it thaw and then cook it up for my girls. Chickens love cooked eggs!
How to Prevent Frozen Eggs
If your flock is still laying in the winter, consider yourself fortunate! If you’re having trouble with your eggs freezing, here are a couple things you can try:
Gather your eggs daily. I usually check them a couple times a day, but mainly because I just like to hang out with my chickens!
Use a heat source. I’d recommend panel heating as opposed to a heat lamp.
Use an old towel underneath the bedding to provide some insulation.
Hang curtains over your nest box to keep some of the heat in.
While you can eat an egg that’s been frozen (an uncracked one), I usually play it safe and feed them cooked back to my chickens. Winter can be tough on everyone, even your flock. Feeding those unwanted eggs back to your chickens, offers a good source of protein and a win win for everyone! If you throw your shells in there as well, they also get a great source of calcium. That way you’re not wasting your eggs and your flock gets a fun snack.
***P.s. I've had so many people ask if it’s okay to feed your chickens their eggs. And the answer is, yes! As long as they’re cooked, you do not need to worry about encouraging “egg eaters”. Egg eaters are chickens who eat their eggs raw. It can become a big problem. Maybe we will talk about that soon!
-The Wing Lady
Don't forget to check out these past posts as well: