Chicken Articles

  • Why Should Eggs Be Stored Pointy End Down?

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    storingeggspointedenddown

    You've probably heard that eggs should be stored with the pointy end facing downwards, but often wondered why? Or maybe you've not ever heard that and you're reading it here for the first time. Either way, it's the truth. Eggs should be stored pointed end down. But why? Well, I'll explain it to you.

    Continue reading

  • A Dozen Eggs - Why Are They Sold In A Dozen?

    Written By Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily

    why-are-eggs-sold-by-the-dozen

    The number twelve has had special significance for man since the ancient times, from Jesus' twelve apostles to twelve full moons per year and twelve months in a year. There are twelve inches in a foot and twelve hourly divisions on a clock.  There are twelve zodiac signs, twelve tribes of Israel and twelve Knights of the Round Table. There are twelve days of Christmas. But what does any of that have to do with why eggs are sold by the dozen? Continue reading

  • Should I REFRIGERATE My Eggs?

    should i refridgerate my eggs

    Written By and Courtesy of Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    One of the most common questions I get asked by readers is if they need to refrigerate the eggs they collect from their chickens. The answer might surprise you.
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  • Blue Chicken Eggs

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    blue egg

    There are basically three types of chickens that lay blue eggs - Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Easter Eggers (although Cream Legbars do lay blue eggs as well and are just becoming available in the US) - but only two of the three ALWAYS lay blue eggs, so you'll want to be sure of what you're ordering if you are determined to have blue eggs.

    ameraucanas
    AMERAUCANAS

    Ameraucanas are a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1984. They were most likely originally bred from South American blue egg laying breeds but were developed and standardized in the United States. They come in eight distinct colors including, Blue, Black, White and Wheaten, which all share these distinct Ameraucana traits:
    ● Peacomb
    ● Muffs and beard
    ● Red earlobes
    ● Tail
    ● Blue legs
    ● White foot bottoms
    ● Always lay blue eggs
    araucanas
    ARAUCANAS

    Araucanas are also a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1976. They originated in Chile most likely and come in five colors including black, white, duckwing silver and golden. Araucanas all share these distinct Araucana traits:
    ● Peacomb
    ● Ear tufts (this gene is lethal to developing chicks if inherited by both parents)
    ● Red earlobes
    ● Rumpless (no tail)
    ● Green or willow-colored legs
    ● Yellow foot bottoms
    ● Always lay blue eggs
    easter eggers
    EASTER EGGERS
    Easter Eggers are not a recognized breed. They are mongrels - mixed breed chickens that do possess the blue egg gene but don't fully meet the breed specifications of either Araucanas or Ameraucanas. They can come in any color or combination of colors and share these traits:
    ● Any kind of comb
    ● Muffs/beard/ear tufts or none
    ● Any color earlobes
    ● Tail or tail-less
    ● Any color legs
    ● Any color foot bottoms
    ● Can lay blue but also sometimes lay green, tan, pink or even yellow
    So if you want to be guaranteed blue egg layers, you will want to raise some Araucanas or Ameraucanas; but Easter Eggers are fun because you never know what color egg each will lay until she starts laying, and even identical-looking hens often lay varying shades of bluish or greenish eggs.

    Make sure to add Omega Ultra Egg to your chickens daily ration for up to 8x more Omega-3 content per egg, harder shells and brilliant plumage. Learn more >> https://www.omegafields.com/poultry-products/omega-ultra-egg.html

  • Double-Yolked Eggs

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    double yolked eggs

    Only about one in every thousand eggs is double-yolked, meaning that there are two yolks encased in the same shell. Since commercially-sold eggs in the United States are candled prior to packaging and cartoned by weight, any double-yolkers are discarded and never end up on a grocery store shelf, so you could go an entire lifetime eating store bought eggs and never encounter one. But once you start raising your own backyard flock, chances are you'll collect your share. But what causes them?

     

    A double-yolked egg occurs when a hen’s ovary is over stimulated and she releases a second yolk too early. Usually about an hour after an egg is laid, the next yolk is released, but if another yolk is sent down the oviduct too soon, a shell will form around both yolks and result in a single egg. As a result, a double yolk egg is usually much larger than a regular egg.

    double yolked eggs 1

     

    It's far more common to find double-yolked eggs from new layers or older hens near the end of their laying life. It can be genetic, and therefore hereditary, and is more common in the hybrids and heavier breeds. Hens who lay large or double-yolked eggs are more prone to becoming egg bound or suffering vent prolapse, both potentially fatal afflictions.

     

    Double-yolked eggs generally won't hatch if incubated, and if they do, it’s rare for both chicks to survive.

    Make sure to check out Omega Ultra Egg - stabilized ground flaxseed supplement for hens for up to 8x more Omega-3 in your eggs, brighter yolks, brilliant plumage. Learn more >>https://www.omegafields.com/poultry-products/omega-ultra-egg.html

  • The Inside of an Egg

    Written By Lisa Steele , Fresh Eggs Daily

     

    Eggs are nutritious and an inexpensive protein source. You probably eat them several times a week without a second thought. But did you ever wonder what exactly is inside that eggshell?

    An egg is comprised of several components including the bloom, the shell, the membrane, the white, and the yolk, but that’s just the basics - blood spots, chalazae and bulls' eyes may also be present.

    THE BLOOM (OR CUTICLE)
    As the last step in the laying process, a thin nearly invisible layer is applied to the eggshell called the 'bloom' (sometimes also called the 'cuticle'). This covering seals the shell to help protect the egg from air and bacteria entering through the tiny pores in the eggshell and also reduces the moisture loss from the egg. Eggs should not be washed until just before using to help preserve the bloom and to help keep the egg fresh.

    THE MEMBRANE
    Just under the eggshell is a pair of thin whitish membranes that help to keep air out of the egg.  Once an egg is laid, an air pocket begins to form between the two membranes at the blunt end of the egg. This air sac will continue to grow as the egg ages. Older hard-boiled eggs peel more easily because the air between the membranes has begun to separate the egg contents from the shell.

    THE SHELL
    The shell is the hard outer covering of the egg and is the egg's best line of defense against contamination from bacteria and germs. The shell is mostly made of calcium carbonate, with small amounts of magnesium carbonate, calcium phosphate and protein.

    All egg shells start out white and then blue and/or brown pigment is applied during the laying process. The blue is applied earlier (in breeds who carry the blue gene) and does seep through to the inside of the shell, but if you notice, the inside of a brown eggshell is always white. All eggs taste the same and contain  virtually the same nutrients regardless of shell color.

    THE WHITE (ALBUMEN)
    The egg white, or albumen contains 60% of the protein in an egg, which is about 10% of the USRDA. Eggs are considered a complete protein because they contain all eight essential amino acids. The white of a fresh egg will be cloudy and very thick. As the egg ages, the white will become nearly transparent and thin as air flows through the pores in the eggshell.

    THE YOLK
    Each egg yolk is covered with a thin transparent membrane which keeps the yolk from breaking. This membrane becomes thinner and weaker as an egg ages, so fresh egg yolks will stand up taller and be less likely to break.

    The egg yolk contains about 80% of the total calories and virtually all of the fat and cholesterol in the egg, along with the majority of the vitamins and minerals. The color of the yolk is determined by the level of xyanthophyll in the foods a hen eats. Xyanthophyll is a carotenoid found in marigold petals, corn, alfalfa, basil and other foods.

    THE CHALAZAE
    The chalazae are ropy, twisted strands in the egg white that anchor the yolk in place in the center of the white. They are more prominent in fresh eggs and perfectly edible.
    BLOOD (OR MEAT) SPOTS
    Red blood (or meat) spots on an egg yolk is not an indication of fertility, but are ruptured blood vessels that have been damaged or broken during the laying process, during the travel down the oviduct, or by rough handling of the egg. As an egg ages, the yolk absorbs water from the egg white. This dilutes the blood spot, so a spot indicates that the egg is fresh.

    The blood spots are edible, but you may want to remove them before cooking the egg.  It is estimated that less than 1% of all eggs produced contain blood spots.

    A BULL'S EYE
    If an egg has been fertilized, you will see a multi-ringed bull's eye on the yolk that indicates that the egg would likely hatch into a chick if incubated for 21 days under a hen or in an incubator. Fertilized eggs are perfectly edible and taste the same as non-fertilized eggs. The only difference is that they contain miniscule amounts of the male rooster's DNA in addition to the hen's DNA that all eggs contain.

  • Egg Bound Hens

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    Considering that a chicken lays an egg every 26 hours or so, it's no wonder that things sometimes go wrong. Occasionally, an egg will get stuck in a hen’s oviduct and she will become egg bound. Signs of an egg bound hen include sitting on the ground or dragging wings, fluffing up, lethargy and closed eyes. Frequently, an egg bound hen’s tail will be down and most likely she will be straining or pumping her backside. Upon closer examination you may notice liquid dripping from her vent. You may even be able to feel an egg-shaped lump.

    Causes of Egg Binding - More common in young pullets, egg binding could be due to a large or double yolked egg that is too large to pass through, genetics, stress, dehydration, internal worms, low-quality feed, poor health or a calcium deficiency. Calcium is needed for proper muscle contraction. Too much protein in a hen's diet can also cause egg binding.

    You want to handle your egg bound hen carefully to avoid breaking the egg inside her. A broken egg can become infected and lead to peritonitis, which is caused by egg material stuck inside the hen and must be treated immediately with an antibiotic and probiotic powder to build up her good bacteria. Even if the egg is not broken, the condition must be treated quickly. An egg bound hen will die if she is not able to pass the egg within 48 hours, so once you have made your diagnosis, treatment should start immediately.

    Treatment for Egg Binding - Bring the hen into the house and soak her in a plastic tub in your bathtub.

    Submerge her lower body and vent in warm water with some Epsom salts for about 20 minutes, gently rubbing her abdomen. Remove her gently from the bath and towel dry her, blotting her feathers carefully, then blow dry her with a hair dryer set on low heat.

    Rub some vegetable oil around her vent and very gently massage her abdomen once more then put her in quiet, dark location - such as a large dog crate or cage. You want to create moist heat, so set the cage over a pan of hot water, put a heating pad and towel on the bottom of the crate or set up a heat lamp, then drape a towel over the cage.

    Give your egg bound hen an eyedropper of Nutri-Drench and 1cc of liquid calcium. Then give her some time to herself. Repeat the soak in the tub every hour or so until she lays her egg.

    As a last resort, a visit to a vet is recommended or, if you can see the egg, you can try to carefully extract the contents of the egg using a syringe. Then you will need to gently crush the shell, keeping the fragments attached to the membrane and remove it using vegetable oil squirted in and around the vent. This is risky and carries with it the danger of your hen contracting peritonitis, so should ONLY be used after all other remedies have been tried.

    Fortunately, being egg bound is not all that common, and there's a good chance you may never have a hen suffer from it, but it's still good to know the signs and how to treat it.

  • Blue Chicken Eggs

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    There are basically three types of chickens that lay blue eggs - Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Easter Eggers (although Cream Legbars do lay blue eggs as well and are just becoming available in the US) - but only two of the three ALWAYS lay blue eggs, so you'll want to be sure of what you're ordering if you are determined to have blue eggs.

    AMERAUCANAS

    Ameraucanas are a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1984. They were most likely originally bred from South American blue egg laying breeds but were developed and standardized in the United States. They come in eight distinct colors including, Blue, Black, White and Wheaten, which all share these distinct Ameraucana traits:

    ● Peacomb

    ● Muffs and beard

    ● Red earlobes

    ● Tail

    ● Blue legs

    ● White foot bottoms

    ● Always lay blue eggs

    ARAUCANAS

    Araucanas are also a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1976. They originated in Chile most likely and come in five colors including black, white, duckwing silver and golden. Araucanas all share these distinct Araucana traits:

    ● Peacomb

    ● Ear tufts (this gene is lethal to developing chicks if inherited by both parents)

    ● Red earlobes

    ● Rumpless (no tail)

    ● Green or willow-colored legs

    ● Yellow foot bottoms

    ● Always lay blue eggs

    EASTER EGGERS

    Easter Eggers are not a recognized breed. They are mongrels - mixed breed chickens that do possess the blue egg gene but don't fully meet the breed specifications of either Araucanas or Ameraucanas. They can come in any color or combination of colors and share these traits:

    ● Any kind of comb

    ● Muffs/beard/ear tufts or none

    ● Any color earlobes

    ● Tail or tail-less

    ● Any color legs

    ● Any color foot bottoms

    ● Can lay blue but also sometimes lay green, tan, pink or even yellow So if you want to be guaranteed blue egg layers, you will want to raise some Araucanas or Ameraucanas; but Easter Eggers are fun because you never know what color egg each will lay until she starts laying, and even identical-looking hens often lay varying shades of bluish or greenish eggs.

  • Scratch Sunflower Nut Edible Treat Wreath for Chickens

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    As many of you know, I enjoy adapting ideas I see online and elsewhere for the enjoyment of our chickens. I have seen several versions of birdseed wreaths for wild birds on Pinterest HERE, HERE and HERE and decided to make my own chicken version.

    My first two attempts didn't work very well - don't trust everything you read online! - and fell apart, but this, my third attempt turned out perfectly. Easy, quick, held together well and the chickens loved it!

    Here's how to make one for your girls.

    You'll need:

    Cooking spray
    Bundt Pan
    1/2 Cup cool water
    3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
    1-1/2 Cups Boiling water
    1 Cup bacon, suet or hamburg grease, heated to liquify
    8 Cups of a mixture of scratch, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, raisins, nuts or seeds
    20 fresh or frozen cranberries
    Ribbon

    How to:

    Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a measuring cup, dissolve the gelatin in the cool water and let sit for a minute. Pour the boiling water into a medium bowl and whisk in the gelatin to combine.

     

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the seeds and nuts, stir in the grease and then pour in the liquid gelatin. Mix well with a wooden spoon to be sure all the nuts and seeds are well-coated and all the liquid is absorbed.

     

    Place the cranberries in rows in the indentations in the pan (I used three in half the indentations and two in every other indentation) and then carefully spoon the seed mixture into the pan. Press down with the spoon to pack it well.

    Put the Bundt pan in the refrigerator overnight to set. The next day, take the wreath out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Invert and tap gently on the countertop to unmold.

     

    Tie a pretty ribbon in a bow at the top and then attach the wreath to your run fencing for your chickens or to a tree or fence to treat the wild birds.
    I did switch out the fancy ribbon for a plain one when I hung the wreath in the run.

  • Why Aren't Your Hens Laying Anymore


    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    A decrease in egg production this time of year is perfectly normal and most likely attributable to shorter days and molting hens, but it can also be something a bit more formidable.  Egg production naturally ebbs and flows in a backyard flock. Chickens are extremely routine-oriented and any change in routine can throw off their laying.

    I keep track of the eggs I collect using a spreadsheet and totaling the eggs by color/day/month. Often, when a hen stops laying, that is the first sign that something is wrong, so tracking production is not only fun and interesting, it can be very beneficial to monitor the health of your flock.

    Here are some of the more common reasons why a hen might stop laying, or lay at a reduced rate:

    1. Shorter Days - This time of year, egg production will slow due to the shorter days. A hen needs a minimum of 14 hours of daylight to stimulate the ovaries to release an egg. Therefore it takes longer to accumulate the 14 hours during the fall and winter months.  Action - You can add supplemental light in your coop to provide the additional light needed.  Read HERE about adding supplemental light.

    2. Molting - The fall is also the time when hens will generally molt. They usually stop laying all together during the molt. Click HERE for more information about molting. Action - You have to let the molting run its course, but added protein can help move it along and help your hen emerge faster and begin laying again.

    3. Broody - When a hen 'goes broody,' she stops laying eggs and starts sitting on the nest 'round the clock, trying to hatch some eggs. Hens will do so with fertile OR non-fertile eggs, even sitting on no eggs at all! The drive for broodiness is in some hens/breeds genes more than others. Action - Break the broody as quickly as possible; read more on how to do that HERE.

    4. Egg Eating - Obviously, egg eating by your chickens will result in a reduction in the eggs left for you to collect. Once one starts, other will follow. Evidence may be seen in the nests in the form of broken eggs or empty shells, but most likely your chickens will eat the entire egg, shell and all, so unless you catch one in the act, you might not realize what is happening.  Action - Click HERE to read more on egg eating and how to stop it.

    5. Predators - Not only will many predators steal and eat eggs, the mere presence of a predator lurking around your run area can stress the hens to the point that they stop laying. Snakes, weasels and rats can get through a space smaller than 1 inch. Other larger predators, such as foxes, opossums and skunks, will try and enter your coop as well if you don't have it securely locked at night. Action - Be sure that all vents on your coop are covered with 1/2-inch hardware cloth. Block any holes in the coop larger than an inch. Put predator proof locks on the coop and nesting box doors. NiteGuard solar predator lights will also keep predators at bay and away from your run at night.

    6. Egg Bound Hen - Young hens, hens who consume too much protein or are otherwise not in tip-top condition can become egg bound. This potentially fatal condition must be caught and treated immediately. Action - Click HERE for more on treating an egg bound hen.

    7. Overcrowding - Overcrowding in the run and coop can lead to pecking and other stresses that can cause your hens to stop laying. Action - Ensure that your coop provides a MINIMUM of 3-4 square feet per hen and your run provides a MINIMUM of 10 square feet per hen. Of course, size matters and bigger is better.

    8. Additions or Subtractions to the Flock - Any time you add or take away a hen, the entire pecking order of your flock is upset and (usually minor) adjustments are made. Often this can stress hens so they slow their laying. Action - Once the pecking order is restored, laying will resume. New hens might need some time to get used to their new surroundings before they start laying for you.

    9. A Change in the Nesting Area - Any change in her nesting area can throw off a hen's laying. Things such as changing out the nesting boxes for a different type, switching the type of nesting material, hanging curtains (although, in the long run, curtains can help increase production ... click HERE for more on that!) or moving your flock to a new coop can cause stress and break their routine to cause a decrease in production. Action - Try not to disturb the nesting area unless absolutely necessary.

    10. Illness/Disease - Often the first noticeable sign of illness in a chicken will be the cessation of laying. Chickens are masters at hiding symptoms in general, because weakness can cause pecking by other hens in the flock, as well as attention from predators. Action - Do regular checkups of your flock. Read HERE what to look for and how to treat if something is wrong.

    11. Extreme Heat - Hens lay best in temperatures between roughly 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Any deviation, higher OR lower, can cause a reduction in their lay rate. Action - Do your best to help your hens stay cool and comfortable during the summer months, especially if you live in a Southern climate. Read HERE for tips on beating the heat.

    12. Extreme Cold - Extremely cold temperatures can likewise cause laying to decline, as the hens are using all their energy to stay warm. Action - Use scratch as an evening wintertime treat. The act of digesting the grains helps keep the hens warm overnight and maintain their laying.

    13. Lack of Adequate Ventilation in the Coop - Ammonia fumes can build up in a coop that is not well-ventilated. That can cause irritation and respiratory illness in a hen. Action - Rule of thumb is that 1/5 of your total coop wall space should be vents/windows that can be opened or closed, weather dependent. Of course be sure all vents are covered with 1/2" hardware cloth to deter predators from gaining access.

    14. Poor Nutrition - Low-quality feed, a lack of feed, or inadequate calcium or protein can all reduce egg production. Action - Ensure your flock has access to a good-quality layer feed that isn't allowed to get moldy. Provide a dish of crushed eggshells or oyster shell free choice so each hen can eat what she needs. Limit treats to 10% of their diet and choose healthy treats such as greens, weeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, grains, insects and meal worms.

    15. Overfeeding - Overfeeding can lead to a drop in egg production. A diet low in protein will cause a hens' laying to slow. Action - Don't overfeed (a hen will eat roughly 1/2 of feed per day) and provide adequate protein in the form of meal worms, sunflower seeds, etc.

    16. Lack of Water - An egg is roughly 75% water. If a chicken goes without access to fresh, clean, cool water for even a few hours, that can lead to a reduction in egg production. Action - Be sure to keep plenty of water available in the run and change it regularly. Scrub out the waterers with a white vinegar/water mix regularly and add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the water a few times a week. The apple cider vinegar not only helps keep algae and bacteria at bay, it is thought to improve the taste of the water and make it more appealing to your chickens. On hot days, add frozen water bottles or ice cubes to the water, because chickens won't drink warm water on a hot day.

    17. Free Ranging - If you allow your flock to free range, there's a good chance that they are going off to lay their eggs and hiding them. A hen's natural instinct is to lay her eggs in a secluded, safe spot to keep them safe from predators. Action - Because most hens lay their eggs in the morning hours, try keeping your flock cooped or penned up until early afternoon so they will be forced to lay their eggs when you can find them.

    18. Hiding Eggs - Even in an enclosed run, hens will sometimes quit laying in the nesting boxes and instead start hiding their eggs in an effort to collect a 'clutch' to sit on and hatch. Last summer, our egg production went down, and I thought it was the heat until I found their 'stash' of 14 eggs behind a bush in the run! Action - Chickens like to find out-of-the-way places to lay their eggs, so check under and behind bushes, shrubs, anything else you have in your run they can use as cover. Sometimes you have to learn to choose your battles, and if I find our chickens starting to lay elsewhere than the coop, I will set up an outdoor nesting box or basket for them. As long as it's out of the way and they're happy, at least I know where to check for missing eggs.

    19. Age - A hen lays best during the first two to three years of her life. Her productivity will drop after that, but well-cared for, healthy hens can continue to lay for years after that. Action - Continuing to add new chicks or pullets to your flock each spring ensures a constant supply of hens at prime egg-laying age. (Note: While older hens don't lay as well, they are thought to make better mothers, so keeping them around to sit on fertile eggs is a wonderful way for them to 'earn their keep.')

    20. Stress - A stress-free hen is a good laying hen. Any stressor, such as a barking dog, traffic noise, being bullied by another hen, neighbors' children chasing them and trying to pick them up and hold them, etc., can cause a drop in production. Action - Remember, a hen is laying her egg with the ultimate goal of it hatching into a chick. She won't be happy laying in an environment she doesn't feel is safe for a chick to grow up. Try to reduce any outside stresses as much as possible.

    Before you despair and think that getting a hen to actually lay an egg is about as rare as a blue moon or you'll have to wait until the stars align and pigs fly, remember that she is programmed to lay an egg about once every 26 hours. She WANTS to lay that egg. So anything you can do to help her in that venture is going to boost productivity and make it easier on her.  Since the hens are not living in a light/temperature-consistent, confined and controlled environment like commercially raised hens, it's natural that they will respond to different stimuli (or the lack thereof) by ceasing egg production.

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