Too Many Eggs in the Spring?
Chicken enthusiasts will often keep a light on a timer over the winter to keep their hens tricked into thinking it’s summer and time to lay eggs. 15 hours of light will do the trick to keep them going strong year ’round. The down side to this practice is that your hens will wear out more quickly and then you have to decide between retirement or culling a bit sooner.
There are also those who subscribe to a more natural way of keeping their flocks. They don’t add the light on a timer, but instead allow the hens a winter vacation. If you have the funds to keep chickens on vacation feed, more power to you! Personally, I go with the light on a timer.
Either way, you will undoubtedly notice an increase in egg production when the days grow longer and the sun warms the chicken coop and pen up in spring. The increase will be much more pronounced in a flock coming out of their ‘winter holiday,’ unless, of course, your flock is reaching retirement age.
So now you have extra eggs on hand and maybe the fridge is filling up with egg cartons. What to do with all of these little treasures? I sell some of my extra eggs to friends who are happy with the increased production. You’ll have to check the regulations in your state to see if you need to have a license, new egg cartons, wash the eggs, only sell from your home, no deliveries…all those rules they’ve come up with to save us from ourselves. Make sure you do that before you start selling eggs so you know what your responsibilities are.
Use Them Up!
Maybe selling isn’t going to work out, or you don’t want to be bothered with the details. Here are some ideas to help you use those eggs or store them for later.
- Freeze the extras – crack the fresh eggs into a bowl and gently scramble. Mix in 1/8 tsp salt or 1.5 tsp sugar in for every 4 eggs to keep the yolks from getting gummy in texture. You can pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze, then transfer to freezer bags for longer storage (vacuum seal bags are great for preventing freezer burn). Label the bag and use the eggs within a year. Thaw the egg mixture for 24 hours before using. Use 2 cubes for a large egg. If you would normally use half a dozen for breakfast, you might find it more convenient to freeze 6 eggs lightly beaten in a pint sized freezer container.
- Make egg noodles in large batches and freeze or dry for later. Check out my post How to Make Egg Noodles.
- Have eggs for dinner. You can make scrambled eggs or a quiche with fresh veggies (try asparagus, spinach, kale, spring onions, or peas fresh from the garden). We like to make a pancake and egg breakfast at dinner time occasionally.
- Hard boil the eggs that are a couple weeks old and use them for deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches. Slice them on your salad or take whole, peeled eggs to work for lunch.
- For a quick breakfast or lunch, try this Coffee Cup Scramble I found on The Incredible Edible Egg. In fact, check out the rest of their recipes for some really awesome dishes made with eggs.
- Make custard pies, bread or rice pudding, Homemade Chocolate Pudding, meringues, or even souffles if you are feeling adventurous.
- Trade them with friends and family for babysitting, homemade cookies, or whatever works for both of you.
So you’ve eaten as many eggs as you can, put a bunch in the freezer, and are so tired of them that you don’t know what to do…but the hens keep on laying. Maybe you’ve heard of old fashioned methods for preserving eggs in waterglass or packed in sand? Or you may have read that unwashed eggs keep better than washed. Is it possible to keep extra eggs on hand without freezing? I found Dark Brown Eggs’ post ‘Wash egg or not for storage?’ and thought the information was pretty interesting. They experimented with keeping eggs in different storage situations for up to 7 months and give a detailed account of how well they kept. It makes me wonder if my compulsion to wash eggs is something I need to overcome.
*Note: I decided to try keeping unwashed eggs at room temperature to see how long they would last. I was able to use them for 3 months.
Unfortunately, with 50 laying hens who think they all need to use the same 3 nesting boxes, I have pretty dirty eggs sometimes. The basket full below was in definite need of a good washing. If you must wash the eggs, use warm (not hot) water. If necessary, I will use a tiny bit of all natural dish detergent on particularly poopy eggs. For better storage qualities, rub a small amount of mineral oil over the exterior of washed eggs.
Not sure if those stored eggs are good or bad? You may have seen the videos and instructions that show eggs floating that are bad. I’ve done this, then cracked the eggs open. I found most of them to still be usable. They were fine for using in baking and, in some cases, for scrambled eggs. But make sure they don’t smell funny, or have really runny yolks. Use you best judgement!
Do you have suggestions for chicken keepers overrun with eggs in the spring? How do you store the eggs from your hens? And do you wash your eggs or keep them natural with the bloom intact?
Update: Some more ideas for those extra eggs in spring!
- Donate them to a local food pantry, if allowed.
- Hatch out fertile eggs for your next flock or for chicks to sell.
- Sell fertile eggs to enthusiasts looking for eggs to hatch.
- Set up an incubator with fertile eggs for a classroom at your local elementary school or nursing home. They will have a great time watching the chicks hatch!
- I saw an ad on Craigslist that read something like…”Fertile eggs available for $3 per dozen. You hatch out for your classroom and then I will take the chicks back. No need to find homes for them.”
- If you run out of ideas, scramble the eggs and feed them to your pets or back to the chickens. They will love the extra protein.