In the last post (see Finding Egg Cartons), I identified that Ohio law requires that eggs be packaged in new (not used) egg cartons if they are going to be sold off-farm. I said this because when attending the class “Farmers Markets, Cottage Foods, & Food Processing Establishments ” last year, an ODA (Ohio Department of Agriculture) representative identified that re-using cartons was not allowed because of possible contamination from salmonella, etc. However, the idea that re-used cartons are not permitted in Ohio (for small farms with less than 500 layers) generated a lot of controversy – it seems that many small [...]
Continue reading Egg Cartons – “New” Not Required in Ohio
We sell our excess eggs (and they go as fast as the girls can make them), but to comply with Ohio law, the cartons must identify the size and grade of egg, the farm name and address, and the date the eggs were packed. I thought that finding reasonably priced cartons for our eggs that met these criteria would be easy – boy was I wrong!
First of all, our girls produce mostly Jumbo eggs, but they’re not all Jumbos and we don’t grade them. Ohio allows you to sell ungraded eggs of mixed sizes as long as you don’t specify that they’re of a particular grade and specify [...]
Continue reading Finding Egg Cartons
It’s springtime – the best time of year for raising chicks! So, it’s a good time to collect eggs for incubation and hatch the baby chicks yourself (or give them to a broody hen to hatch). High hatch rates and healthy chicks start with proper egg collection and storage.
Collecting the Eggs
Chicken egg incubation temperature and humidity are ideal for the growth of bacteria; so it’s essential that eggs collected for hatching are clean. However, hatching eggs ideally should not be washed, as this removes the protective egg bloom (see Egg Bloom). The egg bloom protects the egg from both bacteria and moisture loss. [...]
Continue reading Hatching Eggs – Collecting & Storing
I never really gave it much thought before raising chickens; but to sell eggs in the US, they have to be marketed according to the grade and size standards established by the USDA. The established sizes are Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small, and Peewee (I never knew there was a peewee size!). Sizes are classified according to minimum net weight expressed in ounces per dozen as follows:
In addition to size, all eggs sold at the retail level must be Grade B or Better, with the allowed Grades being AA, A, and B. There is no nutritional difference in the grades; it’s the [...]
Continue reading Selling Eggs – Size & Grade Requirements
With a little knowledge and planning, the number of eggs produced by chickens can be controlled to be somewhat consistent throughout the year. Although the number of eggs a chicken produces each week depends on many things; it’s most dependent upon day length. Increasing day length in the springtime signals a chicken to start producing more eggs; and if she has the natural instinct for it, to go broody and raise chicks. Conversely, shortening day length in the fall signals the chicken to slow down on egg laying, molt, renew nutritional stores (depleted by egg-laying, setting, and chick raising), and grow new feathers. This natural cycle favors the [...]
Continue reading Controlling Chicken Egg Production
Broody Buckeye Hen – Sitting For 10 Days & Counting
As of yesterday, our broody Buckeye hen has diligently been sitting on 15 eggs - for 10 days. She gets out of her nest box only to eat, drink, and relieve herself; and has only once signalled a desire to leave the broody box (see Building A Broody Box). We let her out and she took a quick dust bath in the pasture; and then climbed right back into the broody box and back onto the nest. So far, she’s exhibiting all the behaviors of an excellent mother hen, and we couldn’t be [...]
Continue reading Candling Broodies Eggs
Well, a hen’s reproductive system consists of an ovary and an oviduct. The ovary contains undeveloped egg yolks (the number of yolks (or ovum) that are contained here are the total number of eggs the chicken will lay in her life) that are released into the oviduct as each yolk develops, usually about an hour after the previous egg was laid. However, in young pullets and some heavy breed hens, two yolks are sometimes released within a couple of hours, and these become double-yolked eggs.
Heredity can cause some hens or breeds to have a higher propensity for double yolks; but [...]
Continue reading What Causes Double Yolks?
In the US today, we’re being offered more and more choices in food quality; and it’s because many of us are demanding locally grown foods that are antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide free. In terms of eggs quality, it’s not clear sometimes what the choices mean – here’s a rundown on the different types of eggs:
Commercial or “Factory Farmed” Eggs
These are the standard grocery store eggs; and unfortunately, the “farms” that produce these eggs are typically poultry houses where the hens are housed indoors in tiny metal cages. They’re routinely debeaked (part of their beaks are cut [...]
Continue reading Choices in Egg Quality
The more I learn about chickens, the more I think they are truly remarkable creatures. Just before laying an egg, the hen adds a protective layer called “bloom” or cuticle to the outside of the egg. This coating seals the shell pores, prevents bacteria from getting inside the shell, and reduces moisture loss from the egg – all designed to make the egg last longer.
Unfortunately, because of conditions at some large egg operations, commercial eggs are washed right after collection to make them appear clean and presentable. Of course, this destroys the protective egg bloom. To try replacing natural bloom, [...]
Continue reading Egg “Bloom”