By Richard Goforth
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 —
Working in Cooperative Extension we get some interesting questions, and as the area poultry agent many of those are about eggs.
I would like to address a few of the ones I receive most often. Small flock owners most often ask how to clean their eggs. The best answer is do not let them get dirty, keep coops clean and dry and make sure to train young hens to use nest boxes. There should be a nest box for every 3-5 hens, lined with fresh nesting material such as shavings, straw or nesting pads.
If eggs do get dirty, dry clean by removing debris with soft bristle brush or pot scrubber. If washing is required use warm running water or spray; do not submerse or soak eggs as this can force dirt and germs into the pores, eggs can be dipped or sprayed with a simple bleach solution for sanitizing after washing if desired, then allowed to air dry. Once dry it is important to store them in clean dry containers and cool to 45 degrees.
The question most often on consumers’ minds is what is the difference between brown and white eggs? The simple answer is nothing but the color. Shell colors are a result of genetic differences between breeds. Colors were developed as a way to protect the eggs, as camouflage, to reflect heat, and so they could be identified from others.
Most breeds lay brown or some color of eggs but white eggs are dominate in stores because the White Leghorn breed that produces them is the most prolific layer; is a small bird requiring less space and food than larger breeds, making their eggs the cheapest to produce.
Now I know many of you will say you have seen the difference in the yolk colors or thickness of the egg white. What you see is real; it just does not have anything to do with the color of the egg shell. Many of the brown eggs come from local flocks or from free-range systems where the hens may eat green plants, food scraps, worms and insects. The color pigments in these foods are transferred to the yolks.
It is the hen’s diet that makes the yolks deeper yellow or orange than the typical store egg. The thickness of the egg white is determined primarily by two factors, how fresh the egg is and the age of the hen. As hens age the albumin they produce gets thinner. The egg white gets thinner and breaks down over time as well.
Eggs can be used for six weeks or longer if properly stored but you will see the albumin be very thin and not ideal for some uses such as making meringue. So if you get fresh eggs from your own flock or another local source, the whites will be firmer than most you will ever get from a supermarket. Most small flock owners prefer brown laying breeds because they are better at foraging and for meat production. This helps generate the perception of brown egg superiority.
For any poultry questions contact the Stanly County Extension office by calling (704) 983-3987. For those with backyard flocks, Cooperative Extension will have an organizational meeting to form a local poultry association at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Anson County Extension Center, 501 McLaurin St., Wadesboro.
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is the largest outreach program at North Carolina State University. Based in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension reaches millions of North Carolina citizens each year through local centers in the state’s 100 counties and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s mission is to partner with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians. Learn more at www.ces.ncsu.edu.
Richard Goforth, Area Poultry Agent, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Stanly County Center, call (704) 983-3987 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.