In theory, chicken eggs can stay good in the coop for 4-5 weeks. However, if you don’t collect eggs daily it can cause a number of problems. Predators might steal them, chickens may break them, and hens may become broody and sit on them.
How Long Can Eggs Stay in Coop Before Going Bad?
First of all, I have to start off by saying you should never take any risks eating eggs without knowing how old they are, and that they’re safe to eat.
The older an egg is, the more air and bacteria will enter into the egg through the pores in the shell.
That said, generally speaking, a fresh egg that hasn’t been washed can stay good enough to eat for anywhere between 4-6 weeks.
This is because eggs are laid with a natural antibacterial coating called a ‘bloom’. When eggs are washed, the bloom is removed. This is why eggs that are washed need to be stored in the fridge, while fresh eggs can be kept out at room temperature.
There are a number of other things that can affect how long an egg stays good for, too. The main factor being the temperature. Ideally, you want eggs in the coop to be kept at around 20C and lower, which is 68F.
With the ideal temperature and the bloom staying intact, it’s very realistic that eggs will still be edible after 4-5 weeks.
How Long Can Eggs Stay in Coop in Summer?
There is no standard answer for this question, it depends on how high the temperature gets and for how long.
Generally speaking, the longer and higher the temperature goes above 20C, the quicker an egg is going to go bad. Obviously, direct sunlight is also going to cause an egg to go bad quicker.
Even the temperature reaches 100 degrees plus for a sustained period, you even risk the incubation process starting if the egg was fertilized by a rooster in your flock.
My advice is; if you find eggs in a hot coop and you’re not sure how long they’ve been there, test them for freshness. (more on this below).
How Often Should I Collect Chicken Eggs?
You should collect eggs at least twice a day. Once in the morning, and once in the evening. Keep in mind that chickens do not lay eggs at the same time every day.
It takes around 24-26 hours to create an egg from start to finish. Therefore, you’ll notice chickens that are laying regularly laying their eggs a little later each day, until they skip a day.
You want to collect eggs as soon as possible, so the more often you can check those nesting boxes, the better.
Related - Have free-range chickens? Here's where they're most likely to lay eggs away from their coop.
Reasons Why You Should Collect Eggs Daily
Eggs going bad is not the only reason not to collect eggs daily. There are also a number of other potential problems it can cause:
Chicken may break and eat their eggs
With eggs stacking up in a coop, it’s not uncommon for them to start getting broken - either accidentally or deliberately.
You want to avoid this the best you can. Broken eggs make a mess, the smell attracts pests and predators, and chickens can develop a taste for eating eggs. This then creates a vicious circle of more eggs being broken.
It May Attract Predators
Eggs are highly sought after by snakes, rodents, opossums, and even larger predators like raccoons and coyotes in some areas.
The problem with predators is that once they have a reason to frequent an area, they tend to return - and attract more predators or bring their pack mates.
Your Hens Will Go Broody
When a hen is ‘broody’ it means their maternal instincts are taking over and they feel the need to incubate their eggs and hatch them.
Unless you want a clutch of chicks running around, you should do everything you can to avoid a broody hen. The main way you can do this is to remove eggs swiftly.
If there are no eggs, they have nothing to sit on!
How Can You Tell if Eggs Are Bad?
One of the oldest and most reliable ways to tell if an egg is good or not is to use what’s called the ‘float test’.
The float test, as the name suggests involves seeing if an egg floats. Simple.
Fill a jug or bowl with water, and place your egg in the water and see what happens. If the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh.
If the egg floats, it’s rotten. Don’t use it!
If it does something in the middle, like standing on its side, then it’s borderline bad and you should avoid using it to be safe.
Here is a quick video demonstrating this:
The reason this happens is that eggshells are porous. They have loads of tiny little pores that you cannot see with the naked eye.
The older the egg is, the more air and gas get inside it. This causes bacteria to form, and of course, this means the contents of the egg go bad and cannot be eaten.
Or, at least, they should not be eaten if you want to avoid food poisoning. Having food poisoning is miserable, I’m sure most people reading this will have had a bout at some point in their lives and agree.
If in doubt, always check your eggs for freshness using the above test.
Related - How to correctly store fresh eggs.
Now you know, eggs ‘can’ stay good for a few weeks in a coop in ideal conditions. If they survive all the other hazards, that is.
Either way, you should be collecting eggs as soon and as often as you can. You should always check them for freshness and err on the side of caution before eating them, too.
Image credits - Header photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash
How long do eggs last? - Healthline.com
What You Need to Know About Egg Safety - fda.gov