One of the main reasons people keep chickens, ducks, and other domesticated fowl in their backyards is for the benefit of having fresh eggs! Once you’ve had fresh eggs from your own backyard flock, you’ll never go back to store-bought eggs. Keep reading to learn all about what to expect from your hens and how to take care of your eggs.
The color, size, and quantity of eggs you get from your hens depends on the breed. Most chickens will lay white, brown, or pale blue eggs, in a variety of sizes. Certain breeds are better known for being egg layers and will produce more eggs per year than others. You can search eFowl specifically for breeds that lay more eggs per year, or some simple research can give you an idea of how many to expect from your breeds. Eggs can be speckled or not, and may sometimes have funny shapes if the egg sits in the oviduct for too long before it is laid. Getting the occasional odd-shaped egg is usually not a reason for concern.
When compared to store-bought eggs, fresh eggs may have a slightly richer yolk color, and will be more flavorful. See if you can tell the difference! Your chicken’s eggs will also have slightly thicker shells. I’ve gotten so used to putting a little extra muscle in when I crack eggs, I’ve accidentally managed to have a few store-bought eggs explode when I try to open them! Whoops.
If you love the taste of fresh chicken eggs, but haven’t given duck eggs a try, you are definitely missing out. There are a few key differences between duck eggs and chicken eggs. Duck eggs tend to have thicker shells, meaning they’ll take a little extra tapping to crack, but they will also stay fresher for longer. In my experience, the yolks of duck eggs tend to be a little more orangey and a little darker. The color and size of duck eggs varies by breed. When comparing taste, many find duck eggs to have a richer flavor than chicken eggs, which makes them favored by pastry and dessert chefs, though some people say they cannot tell a difference. I have read several sources that claim duck eggs can have up to twice the nutrition of a chicken egg, but ultimately the nutrition of any egg is linked to what the bird eats. If you want lots of duck eggs, khaki Campbell ducks are a great breed to try out!
Turkey eggs are much larger than a chicken or duck egg, but will taste about the same. When baking, I use turkey eggs in place of two chicken eggs. If you want turkey eggs, however, don’t hold your breath. Most breeds lay less than 100 per year, and less if they go broody, which happens very easily.
In addition to being much more delicious, fresh, free-range eggs have a higher nutrition value, especially if your ladies are allowed to wander the yard and eat bugs, and will often have a longer shelf life than their grocery store counterparts. They require slightly different care, but are very easy to keep.
Instead of refrigerating our eggs, we keep them at room temperature in a bowl that is kept away from sunlight. If you plan on doing this, it is very important that you do not rinse your eggs until just before you use them. When a chicken or other bird lays an egg, the shell has an invisible outer layer of protection that keeps bacteria from penetrating the shell. Grocery store eggs are washed so they look pretty and clean, but washing the egg removes that protective coating, which is why refrigeration is required. Don’t worry about a bit of mud or some bird droppings on the shell when you’re ready to eat the egg, it’ll wash off completely with some warm water and gentle scrubbing.
There’s an easy way to test your eggs if you think they may have gone bad. Fill a bowl with water and place the egg in the water. If the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s perfectly fine. If it stands up on the bottom, the egg should still be okay but should be used soon. If the egg floats toss it! When an egg goes bad it forms the gases that give rotten eggs that wonderful odor, and those gases are what causes a bad egg to float.
Eggs are full of protein and other nutrients, so having a few egg-layers around will only benefit you! How do you like your eggs?