Gathering dirty eggs? Here's how I get clean eggs from the nest boxes

Last year I was having a real bad time with the eggs from one of my coops being dirty all the time. Nobody wants to collect dirty eggs each day and because of a certain hen, it was happening all too frequently around here. Up until then I had collected clean eggs daily from the nest boxes, so obviously I needed to fix something!

The problem had been hens sleeping in the nest boxes. Well, ok there was a rooster that was doing it too but Hei Hei is a totally different story. Let's just say he really takes after his namesake! Anyway, here is How I got my chickens to stop sleeping in the nest boxes. This is probably the number 1 factor in keeping my eggs clean! 


Other than that issue I rarely have a problem with dirty eggs and I attribute that to these practices.


Clean eggs from the nest box


Enough nest boxes: Yes, I know all the hens tend to prefer the same nest box but it's still important to provide other options. A good formula is 1 nest box to every 4 laying hens. 

Lots of bedding: I take a peek into the nest box each time I collect eggs and make sure there is plenty of soft bedding inside. Lots of soft bedding keeps the eggs from rolling around on the hard floor of the nest box and possibly cracking into each other. I keep a bucket of fresh bedding in the coop to add more as needed.

Clean nest boxes: remove any poop that is in the nest box and replace soiled bedding daily. There shouldn't be any poop normally, but sometimes it happens and the sooner you get it out the better. I keep gloves and a small garden shovel in the coop to easily remove anything that shouldn't be in the nest box. 

Broody hens: I never let the broody hens set in the nest boxes. It generally causes a host of problems with the hatch and other hens. From fights over the nest box to eggs in various stages of incubation and even injured chicks from falling out, it's best to just not allow hens to brood in the nest box. Here's how I care for broody hens instead.

Calcium supplements: Soft shell eggs are caused by a calcium deficiency in the hen. They are also much easier to break than regular eggs and many times will rupture all over the nest box the very next time a hen gets in to lay her egg. I give my chickens eggshells as a calcium supplement and rarely have a soft shelled egg. 

Collect eggs often: Collecting eggs at least once a day and sometimes more often (depending on season) keeps the nest box less cluttered. When a hen sits down to lay an egg she shifts around the other eggs to get comfortable. Most hens are gentle, but some bang the eggs together enough to cause hairline cracks. Seeping eggs make a mess contributing to the dirty eggs problem and can even cause egg eating to start! 

Eggs in nest box, how to get clean eggs from your hens.

If after following these tips you still find dirty eggs in the nest boxes, then it's probably time to take a look at your hens butt! If the feathers near her vent are dirty and collecting poop, it may transfer to the eggs as she's laying. Trim away or clean any poopy feathers and keep an eye on her to make sure it doesn't happen again. 

Soiled butt feathers can also be an indication of vent gleet which should be treated immediately. Here's How to treat vent gleet in backyard chickens.

Hens should have beautiful fluffy butts like so:

Clean fluffy butts are an indication of a hens health

Now that I have the problems in my coop fixed, the eggs are clean each day when I go to collect them! Which is really good, because I don't like to wash my farm fresh eggs!


~L

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