How to keep eggs from freezing in winter

During the long cold winter, farm fresh eggs become fairly scarce. Unfortunately cold temperatures can mean that the few eggs the hens do lay, freeze before we can gather them. Since those precious eggs are so few and far between this time of year, we certainly don't want to loose them to freezing!

Chicken eggs | freezing

Luckily there are a few steps you can take to insure your hens eggs do not freeze in winter. Even when they don't freeze though, eggs require a little bit of special handling in the winter months. Many of us keep our fresh eggs on the counter and we know that once refrigerated, eggs must stay refrigerated to keep them safe for consumption. 

Unfortunately, eggs laid in the colder months often chill to refrigerated temperatures very quickly. To be on the safe side, I store eggs in refrigerator instead of on the counter during cold weather months. Cold eggs will sweat as they warm up to room temperature. Sweating removes the protective bloom which can allow bacteria into the egg. 

How to keep eggs from freezing

Gather eggs more often in freezing temperatures. Eggs can freeze in just a few hours, so make sure to check the nest boxes often. I check for eggs every few hours during the morning and early afternoon. 

Block off or remove some nest boxes so that all the girls are using the same few. As each hen takes her turn laying, she sits in the nest box awhile warming it up and keeping the other eggs warm too. Since fewer hens are laying in winter, you shouldn't need as many nest boxes anyway.

Make sure the nest boxes have a thick layer of bedding to help keep the eggs warm. I prefer a nice fluffy layer of straw or wood shavings. You could also add a piece of heavy cardboard inside the next boxes under the bedding to keep heat in longer.

We talked about nest box curtains in Preparing Your Chickens For Winter. Curtains can help keep the nest box just a tad bit warmer which will give you more time to retrieve the eggs before they freeze.

Make sure the coop is insulated and draft free.

What to do with frozen eggs?

As an egg freezes, the liquid inside the shell expands. This can cause the shell to crack. The shell protects the egg inside from bacteria, but these cracks allow bacteria to enter the egg.

If eggs are not cracked at all, I place them in the refrigerator and let them come down to liquid temperature slowly. This prevents sweating. Use frozen eggs as soon as possible. You can cook them as usual, but I would still make sure they are cooked thoroughly just in case there was a hairline crack I missed. Depending how frozen they were, they might not work as well for baked goods. 

If the eggs are cracked I cook them for the chickens. A crack in the eggshell can allow bacteria to enter, so make sure the egg is cooked completely. They're little digestive systems are better equipped then ours to handle a bit of bacteria, plus they really love the warm treat in winter!

Hopefully though, you won't have to worry about your fresh eggs freezing in the coop and you'll be able to enjoy them yourself!

~L

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