Egg Hunting: How to Tell the Age of an Egg

Every now and then our free range chickens will decide to lay eggs in places other than their nesting boxes, and the only way to find their new nest is to either have a full-blown egg hunt or to do a little spying on the hens. 

Recently our egg production has taken a drop since the days are getting shorter, one of our hens is broody, and a few others are molting. But when I only gathered one egg over three days with three hen still laying, I had a feeling that the ladies had new hiding place. My egg hunt turned up empty, but the spying did the trick when a hen emerged from the garden singing the egg song. Sure enough, deep in the bushes, I found the mother load!

Not only a few, but nine eggs all in a neat little pile!

I was glad to have the eggs, but now on to the real problem. How long had the eggs been there? Were these laid over the last few days or had it been building up over weeks? Fortunately there is a neat little trick to figure out the general age of the eggs and if they are still good.

The Water Test
This is a pretty simple test. Simply submerge the egg in about 6 inches of water in a clear container.
1 week old or less- the egg will lay on the bottom on its side
2 weeks old- the egg will lay on the bottom with the fat end beginning to stick up
3 weeks old- the egg will rest on the bottom standing with the fat end up
4 weeks old- the egg will float on the top of the water

Thankfully for us, it turned out that all of our eggs were less than a week old. Any egg that floats is a bad egg and definitely should not be eaten, but beyond that eating the eggs is up to your own judgment. Personally, one week outside is enough for me. Anything beyond that goes to the compost, but I know plenty of other people who will eat any egg that isn't floating.

If your hens are being mischievous, I hope you have a successful egg hunt!