Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How Long Can An Egg Be Left Outside After A Hen Has Laid It

egg, outside, how, long, keep, store

How long an egg can be left outside after is has been laid by a hen, whether it be inside the coop or in the field,  is a question we get asked quite frequently. We live in a country where all we know is refrigerated cold eggs, so naturally the thought of leaving an egg out in an eighty degree nest box seems like a really bad idea! But is it?  The answer simply put is NO, and here is why.

Eggs are designed to hatch into chicks.  In order to gather a large enough clutch to incubate, it can take a mother hen approximately two weeks to lay all of the eggs that she will eventually hatch.  Throughout the time that the mother hen produces her clutch, her eggs are kept outside in fluctuating temperatures, obviously never refrigerated. And wouldn't you know it her first egg laid is just as "fresh" as her last.  You see eggs don't go "bad" or "rot" simply because they aren't kept refrigerated. If that were the case we would never see the first eggs laid by a hen hatch into a chick, but they do!  It isn't until an egg is contaminated and then overrun with bacteria that it becomes "rotten."  The chances of that happening: 1 in 20,000.  So lets say your hen just so happens to lay the 1 egg in 20,000 contaminated with Salmonella.  Refrigeration at this point would be the key to keeping the bacteria inside of the contaminated egg from multiplying and your egg in turn would not "rot." It truly is an interesting concept when all you have ever know is a cold egg, but in hindsight makes absolute perfect sense!  My friends, try not to worry about the specifics with this area of chicken keeping because there are none.  The best answer to this question is to use common sense.   As a rule of thumb collect your eggs at least once a day to avoid them getting broken or dirty and when your done, blow your girls a kiss and thank them for providing!

With love,

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  1. Thank you for this information, this was something I always pondered.

  2. Not only THAT but eggs are typically sold unrefrigerated at stores and markets all over the REST of the world.

    Here, in the name of "cleanliness & safety", we wash off the natural coating (which seals the eggs), greatly reducing the "shelf-life" and requiring the use of refrigeration.

    Pictures (that would give the USDA and FDA nightmares!) at the link:

    1. Ed, YES! I know most backyard chicken keepers do not refrigerate their eggs. I didn't want to go into that in this post because it wasn't REALLY the issue at hand, but I will be working on a post discussing this. :) Thanks for the links!


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