The end of autumn and the onset of winter generally mark a reduction in egg laying or even the end of egg laying until spring. In gallinaceans, egg laying is largely correlated with the intensity and duration of daylight. However, to benefit from fresh eggs all year round, it is possible to stimulate the laying of your hens by installing artificial light from the end of autumn until the arrival of spring. However, winter and particularly frost can compromise the condition of the eggs in your casserole dishes, because yes, chicken eggs can freeze in cold weather.
At what temperature will your chickens’ eggs freeze?
In less than half an hour, chicken eggs can freeze, crack and become unfit for consumption. When it is very cold, the inside of the egg under the pressure of the gel expands, causing cracks in the shell. The white and yolk of the egg are not frozen at the same temperatures:
White freezes at -0.45°C; The yolk freezes at –0.58°C.
Even if the winters have become milder, it is not uncommon, until the month of May and its icy saints, to experience negative temperatures which could ruin your efforts to enjoy fresh eggs. As soon as the thermometer drops below zero, without any adjustment to the henhouse, you can lose all production.
How often should you collect eggs in winter to ensure eggs are always fresh, but not frozen?
Ideally, and throughout the year, eggs should be collected several times a day. But in freezing weather, you only have a short half hour to collect the eggs and store them in a place less exposed to frost or the beaks of your gallinaceae. In spring and summer, it is not uncommon to go to the henhouse twice a day to collect fresh eggs. Your winged residents generally lay eggs late in the morning. So this is when you should, in case of frost, go by to collect all the eggs. If this is not possible, you will need to check each egg, one by one, and throw away any that are cracked or damaged and have become unfit for consumption.
How to protect egg laying from frost?
To protect your chickens’ eggs from freezing and ensure greater comfort during the cold periods of the year, here are some tips:
Choose the best location for the nesting boxes. Do not place them facing the opening which will bring back freshness, frost, but also heat. If it is not possible to change the location of the nest boxes, decorate them with curtains to protect the eggs from the cold. To keep your precious winter clutches warm, place insulating materials at the bottom of the nest boxes. Properly insulating their roost will ensure their comfort as well as good conservation of the eggs. Double the space between the roof and the false ceiling as well as the interior walls without blocking windows and ventilation.
You can adopt one or more of its solutions to protect the eggs from frost and ensure the best comfort for your gallinaceae. Supplementary heating is another solution to meet this challenge, however, it can weaken the health of the gallinaceae when the temperature difference is too great between the henhouse and the outside. Prefer infrared lamps with diffused heat which, in addition, limit the risk of fire or carbon poisoning. Finally, check even more regularly than usual to see if your chickens have laid new eggs.
Can we incubate or eat gallinaceous eggs that have been frozen?
As you probably suspect, an egg that has frozen will not be suitable for the birth of a future chick. The cold will have stopped the development of the embryo, preventing any development and hatching.
Consuming a frozen egg is not recommended. On the one hand, their texture and taste are much less pleasant once they have defrosted, on the other hand, they mix poorly, complicating their use. Above all, if they crack, they can harbor bacteria and contaminants that could make you sick. If your chickens’ eggs have frozen, it is better to throw them away and not take any risks for your health. When this is the case, they show deformation under pressure, have cracks or a white color already set by the gel.
If you notice that one or more eggs have been frozen, throw them away and implement one or more of our tips to protect your chickens and their eggs from the cold.