“Do you know where that thing comes out? I’m not going to eat that!”
Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard a few people say this about eggs. Some people are only willing to eat eggs that are perfectly clean and completely removed from the farm with any connection to the animal that supplied it stripped completely clean.
To those people I say, get real. No really, I mean it, get REAL.
In real life, an egg comes out of the same opening that poop does in a bird. It’s called a cloaca and it is very efficient. When the egg drops down through the oviduct (which is a separate from the intestine) and is ready to be released, it squeezes the opening to the intestine shut, effectively separating the poop from the egg.
Once the egg is laid, the intestinal track opens up again and is ready for action.
But as is almost everything in life, things can get messy, there can be residual poop in the opening, or there can be poop that has leaked around the closure. And if a hen is brooding, she’s not going to leave her nest resulting in some of her poop on the eggs.
What this all means is that you can get eggs that are not necessarily pristine (although sometimes you will find an egg that looks like it has been washed, it’s so clean.) Almost always, eggs will have some poop on them.
You can help this situation by keeping the bedding clean and by keeping all roosting bars away from the nesting boxes, but even still,
Guess what? Poop happens.
All you need to do is bring the eggs inside and wash them. To wash our eggs, we fill a soft plastic bucket with warm (not hot) water and put a few eggs at a time inside.
If the egg floats we get rid of it. That’s a bad, old, or cracked egg that has too much air inside. I would never take a chance with that.
If the eggs sit nicely on the bottom of the bucket, we gently wash the egg off with a very soft sponges. I do not use soap on my eggs, although some people use soap/and or vinegar.
The point is not to make them look like perfect little pristine packages of protein. Some eggs will have spots, some will even be stained by the poop that was on them. It’s all okay. The point is to simply to remove the poop.
If you’re worried about germs (and yes Salmonella is a real threat in animals) then use common sense. Wash your hands after handling eggs. When you are cooking with eggs make sure all products are thoroughly cooked so that all bacteria will be killed. Be aware of cross contamination and use the same precautions you would use with meat (which in all likelihood, probably has more bacteria in it than your eggs.)
It amazes me that some people are so removed from where food comes from that they think farm fresh eggs are gross.
When in fact, it’s the sterile, bleached, factory-caged, nutrient-deficient things called eggs found in the grocery store that are what’s really gross.
I write about lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire. You can follow our family's stories at my blog: Lessons Learned From the Flock.