Monday, November 14, 2011

Do You Want a Light in the Coop?

That's the question Boz asked me the other day. We are going into our 6th winter of keeping backyard chicken's and we've always let'm rest during the winter. I've always felt it was best for the girls to let their natural cycle take precedence over having fresh eggs through the winter. I still feel that way. We don't sell eggs, so their is really no need to have them producing all year long. So, I'll stock up now for my seasonal baking and supplement with organic eggs from the supermarket as needed. It's worth it to me to have happy healthy hens. The large window in our coop faces South,acting as a passive solar heater of sorts so it naturally gathers light and heat during the winter months making the girls more comfortable during the coldest months. It also has an over hang so as not to get the girls to heated in summer!

As far as storing our farm fresh eggs goes, I always have bowl of eggs on the counter filled with those I collect daily. The bowl holds about 8- 10 eggs and the rest go in the frig. I've read fresh eggs will keep anywhere from 4 weeks to 2 to 3 months in the frig, but did you know many countries don't refrigerate their eggs at all, saying that the eggs hold more moisture that way.

      I have been surprised a few times with a rotten egg while baking, so now I write the date on an egg with a Sharpe before placing it in the frig so I can re-use the carton. And, if it's an older carton of eggs, I'll always crack the eggs in a separate bowl apart from my dry ingredients just in case!

What say you my fellow backyard chicken keepers?
Light or no light in your coop?
Eggs in or eggs out of the frig ?
Whats the longest you've stored your backyard farm fresh eggs and how? 


Lisa said...

We hang a heat lamp over the waterner but that is more of a convenience for ourselves than trying to keep the chickens laying eggs when it's minus 20.

As far as storing eggs, I store fresh eggs on the counter in an egg carton. We use them up pretty quickly and if we're in a heavy laying period, it's pretty easy to get rid of farm fresh eggs!

Kelsie from Our Country Home and Studio Photography said...

No light here because we live in FL and my chickens have not laid me an egg all summer so doubt I would get any this winter lol.

BUT back in the olden days before winter of the bobcat, when my layers still lived I would only put out a heat lamp on the nights of a deep freeze to keep them warm, and since these nights are just a few here and there and I read that chickens can deal with much colder weather than we get we stopped even doing that.

As for counter v's fridge...I put mine in the fridge because I am back to buying the cage free/hand gathered eggs from the store...I used to keep them on the counter now and again but worried because we do not eat that many here.

Just FYI I read store brought eggs are kept up to a month before they even get to shipped to the stores...So if you look at the use by date and the packing date and add 30days you can get an idea how long eggs keep.

I always break eggs separate....and if in doubt will "float" them to weed out the stale ones.

wow that was a long answer

blessings Kelsie

Brenda said...

I store in the fridge. I do usually have the days eggs on the counter and if we do not use I put them in the fridge. I usually try and use within a month. Do you know the trick to test freshness? Cover with water, if it lays flat, fresh, if it tips up on end you can still eat just not as fresh. If it floats, pitch it. We did put a light on a timer last winter and we started out the spring with some stressed birds in my opinion. We are letting them rest and still getting enough eggs for the two of us. We will put a red heat lamp in the coop when the weather dips down in teens or below zero. We also put our windows facing south.

Renata said...

What a great question ~ worth thinking about! I was blessed to have eggs all winter this last winter (I'm in Australia, so it's currently spring) & this was because I had hens that came to maturity right in the middle of winter when the other hens were going off the lay. Apparently when you have hens that come to maturity in winter they have to lay for so many months no matter what. So a natural alternative to the light is doing that ~ I'm hoping to continue it as part of our cycle each year!
I kept eggs out of the fridge for a while here ( I had the cutest egg holder : ) ) however I found that they were going off much too quickly & because they are fertlised even though they aren't under a hen, I had a huge proportion that were getting quite a bit of blood spotting in them ( it is warm over here in summer). We got an old fridge for our cheese making endeavours that we have at 10 degrees Celcius ~ this is perfect also for eggs, so for the last year I've been keeping my eggs in there & I've been pleasantly surprised about how long I can keep them ~ at least 2 months ( they are usually used up by that point ~ we love eggs). My other fridge however was freezing the eggs, so it does depend on your fridge.
I hope you have a wonderful day

Country Gal said...

There are also special lamps you can get for the coop during the winter months for the girls to also keep them warm and they also give them some natural sun light as well as the winter months dont have a lot of sun light we used these lamps with our hens on our hobby farm I grew up on. When I was younger on our farm my mum cracked one of the girls eggs and out fell a and embryo not quite a chick yet but you could tell in the frying pan well that turned me off of eggs for a while ! I miss having fresh eggs and chickens ! Have a wonderful day !

dr momi said...

I always wash my eggs... can't help it, and always refrigerate. My kids are always grabbing a dozen of eggs -- no worry about getting old!

I also use a heat lamp to keep the water open during the winter. (minus 20 at times here too) My hens lay all winter -- just a bit less than summer. I think the breed of chicken has a lot to do with it, (mine are red sex-links) and feeding enough protein. Getting out there to pick up the eggs before they freeze is my big challenge for the winter :-)

Alica said...

Personally...I wish we had a light in our coop! We do sell our eggs, and I don't like turning people away over the winter. I usually refrigerate them, but I don't feel like I have to hurry about it. And a note of interest about storage...our daughter used to volunteer at the Hans Herr House, a local historical house which gives tours...and she taught people how in the 1700's eggs were stored in crocks filled with lard to keep them fresh! Interesting...

Misty said...

I only have a light on in the coop when I have chicks in the brooder. So only late winter/early spring, or when its really cold, not often in TX.

A friend of mine stores eggs on the counter in a basket. I put mine in the fridge. It gets really hot here in the summer. They go bad pretty quickly in the heat, so I put them in the fridgs as quickly as possible in the summer. Just habit the rest of the time.

Cheree @ The Morning Latte said...

I only use a light for a little extra warmth on nights when it gets bitter cold (single digits or below zero). For some reason my chickens haven't been laying well for several months so we haven't had a surplus of eggs lately but when they do, I just mark the dates on them with a pencil just to make sure I use them in order. I still think we end up using them within a month. Still, with the older ones, I try to bake with them instead of eating them, say, fried or poached. I've left them lay out for a day or so but end up putting them in the fridge after that....habit? I know other countries don't but I think it's our American habit! LOL

Melanie said...

We do not use a light in the coop, we live in south GA. We usually have a few first year girls, and they keep us in eggs for the winter. The older girls will not lay as often.

I keep eggs out of the refrigerator in the winter, unwashed of course. During the summer months, I put them in the refrigerator immediately.

Candy C. said...

No light here in the coop either, I feel it is good for them to rest. I refrigerate my eggs, unwashed, and use them in order. With all my baking, they don't have much of a chance to get old! ;)

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