Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Too Hot for Eggs?

How long can a fresh egg sit in the nest box on a hot summer day before it is no longer fresh? Are the eggs still safe to eat after waiting in sweltering heat for several hours? These issues were significant last week, when most of the country experienced temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

While we were on vacation in the mountain west, my chicken sitting friend wasn't sure how to handle the eggs in excessively hot weather. Steve let the chickens out of the coop at 7:30am and returned around 8:30pm to lock them up. He was reluctant to keep the eggs that had been in the henhouse all day in the heat.

We did a bit of internet research and learned that all is well. When a hen lays an egg, it exits her body at 105 degrees. The Food and Drug Administration allows 36 hours for the eggs to be gathered and refrigerated at 40 degrees. Once an egg is refrigerated, it should stay there until used.

If you are reluctant about using an egg, crack it into a bowl and inspect it. The yolk should stand up tall and yellow, and there should be no odor. A small speck of blood is normal, but any more than a speck might be cause for concern. I have used all the eggs from the heat wave without incident.

Of course, the hens are affected by the heat, too. My three laying hens are hardy winter girls, and they laid an average of 18-19 eggs per week during the late winter and early spring. The heat of the summer is causing some stress, but they're still producing 15 eggs per week in spite of the weather.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, consumers have little idea of the origin of commercially produced eggs at the grocery store. I'll take my homegrown eggs any day, even if they've been in the coop for the few hours.  

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