Collecting Eggs In Very Cold Weather

The thermometer read 8º F this morning. Bitter cold,  but the air was still and the sun was out, so I knew that the animals could handle it just fine. I have to laugh when I read posts by people who say that their animals are “suffering” in winter weather. Their solutions – keeping the critters indoors, providing heat, and blanketing, often do more harm than good. Candy, for one, knows how to not only ride out the cold but to enjoy it. For her it’s an excuse to eat more and sunbathe at the top of her ramp.

Yesterday at dusk, with the temperature dropping rapidly, she tried to get the goats to play by running back and forth along their fence line. Not exactly the behavior of a suffering rabbit. Actually, she’s happier this time of year than in the hot doldrums of August.

The chickens find a sunny spot, fluff up and take it easy. Look at how huge Buffy looks!

During extreme cold the hens might stop laying. So far, that hasn’t happened here.

But, what can happen is that the eggs, left in the nesting box, freeze and then crack. Cracked eggs should never be eaten. The shell is the first line of defense (among many) that protect eggs from germs. So, I go out and check for eggs several times during the day. I wouldn’t want an egg this pretty to go to waste.

This was laid by Jasper, the Welsummer. She’s supposed to lay dark brown eggs, but this, I believe, is her first and the pigment was laid on spotted instead of even. It’s so special, I’ll be saving it. I have the niftiest tool for blowing out eggs that makes only one small hole in the shell. There’s a market for blown out and washed eggs. I’ve sold some to crafters and some at the farmer’s market. But this one is a keeper.


  1. My chickens are happy that it’s not rained and they are finding wonderful spots for deep luxurious dirt baths. I’m worried about drought but they seem unconcerned.
    I was so happy that my second Wellsummer started laying recently. I had thought an injury when she was little made her unfertile, but it seems she was much later maturing than the others. So now on good days I get two pretty little dark brown eggs, often with spotted pigment. Very nice!

  2. Looks like the freckles on my face. Your “outside” family looks very content with the cold weather. My neighborhood hawk has been hanging around more lately so my girls are confined to the pen when my coonhound isn’t outside with me. They aren’t too happy about being cooped up but they are safe and alive.

    • I didn’t know that coonhounds were good at watching out for hawks. Does she bray (is that the term?) to let you know there’s danger?

      • I think its called “bay”. But yes, he does (way too much). He howls (bays) at squirrels, people walking their dogs-any excuse. His name is Tobey and he was sold to us as a beagle pup but weighs 55 lbs. and has quite a keen nose for preditors. He loves the chickens and tries to get them to play.

  3. It’s been so hot here!! 40 degrees. The chooks were sweltering I’ve been so afraid to go out in case they succumbed to the heat. We’re in for a stretch of cooler weather phew!
    I loooove that egg. I have a young welsummer and looking forward to her first egg! Probably not until Autumn now.

  4. First, Terry if you ever want to sell those egg cups I want first crack, please.
    Second, you are so right about the cold and peoples thoughts about their animals needs in cold weather. I have tried to educate on poultry forums about poultry and cold but what seems to no avail. I have gotten some nasty private messages about my suggestions and how I house my critters.

      • I too am in love with them. Is there a makers mark on the bottom? It looks like plastic, but maybe its Jadeite?

        • Well, I can see I’ll have to do an egg cup post! The cup in this photo is inexpensive plastic and is stamped “Sonja Plastic.” Amazingly, the company is still in business! I found mine at a flea market, and you can find them on eBay. I think someone must be importing and selling them, but haven’t found out who. Let me know if you track down a supplier!

  5. If they are of the outside animal variety such as the goats and chickens they don’t need it. But if they are of the inside variety such as your dogs Lily and Scooter they sure as heck *want* it over needing it !!! That will include cats as well and I am sure the odd house bunny with a thinner coat.

    • Well, my dogs absolutely hate wearing coats, even in the coldest of weather. Scooter is perfectly able to go out and do his business in the winter. As for a house bunny, they shouldn’t go out in the winter. Of course, there are always exceptions. I’ve a friend with a donkey who has to wear a blanket. He is mortified to be seen in it, but he is so old that he can’t grow a warm enough coat of his own anymore.

      • Oh yeah they will hate the coats, but love the fireplaces, electric heaters, and blankets. They don’t need them, but want them as much as people do. Or least my papillon and cats do !!!

  6. Loved the picture of Candy so much, I put her in my photo gallery. Terry you take great pictures.

  7. I have a Welsummer. Ellie is my lap chicken; she loves to snuggle. Her eggs started out looking that one, and then just stayed that way. She’s been laying for over a year now, and they are still speckled. I got her because I wanted dark brown eggs, but her speckled ones are pretty and she’s so sweet that I don’t mind not getting the dark ones!

  8. Please tell about your egg blowing process! Does the tool you have blow too, or just make the hole?

    • The “blas-fix” has a metal awl that drills a small hole at one end of the egg. Then, it has this needle with a suction-thingy. It blows air in through the needle and out comes the egg (which is perfectly usable for cooking.) Once all of the egg is out, you use the same tool, with warm water, to rinse out the shell.

      • I found one on amazon – it was blas fix – a weird name! I have ordered one. Thank you. I get so many great ideas from you. Just finished Karen Pryor’s book too, with great interest.

  9. I have been raising chickens for a about 1 1/2, and has become my most favorite hobby. I happen to have found out about your site in the Chicken mag my husband gave me as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. I have to tell you, I am in love with your website. In the short time I’ve viewed I’ve learned so much. My 2 children are going to be getting rabbits for 4-H soon and seeing how great your chickens and Candy live in harmony, we’ve decided to build their hutch in the chicken yard. I look forward to ‘watching’ your wonderful farm friends and learning as much as I can. Who would have thought such simple things in life could be so entertaining.

  10. I have six Welsummers, and they are supposed to lay dark, spotted eggs, so all of Onyx’s eggs will look like that. Mine were hatched on July 25th last year and the first of them started laying on December 5th. The last of the 6 just started laying a couple of days ago. I love the freckles! I think they are the prettiest eggs (although I really love my blue/green Americauna eggs as well) in my mixed flock.

    • The hatchery that I got my Welsummer from specified dark eggs. Nothing about speckles. But, going back to their site, they do show a photo of one speckled egg in among 3. Anyway, I’m pleasantly surprised! I believe that my Barnevelder is yet to lay. They, too, are supposed to lay dark eggs. We’ll see!

      • Terry you just hit on another blog idea on how to check a hen to see if she is currently laying.

      • Terry, when I got my first pair of Welsummers, I was told that they would lay speckled eggs. And so they did. The eggs were brown, and the speckles, which were so beautiful, were dark brown. I am waiting for my second pair to start laying any day now, and looking forward to more “freckle” eggs. I’ve always heard that it’s the Chocolate Marans that lay the very dark brown eggs, but I’ve never had that breed.

  11. One of my Marans–Beyonce, the Wheaten hen–lays those ‘freckly’ eggs. My other Maran–Solange, the Blue Copper–lays eggs the color of the freckles…dark copper brown. What’s not to love about a brown egg?

  12. Terry, where did you get the tool to blow out eggs, can you post a picture of it?

    I have a dog she is half cocker spanial and half cavalier king charles spanial and she is very protective of my girls, she guards them from the feral cats in the neighborhood.

    • Click on the underlined word “tool” in the post and you’ll go right to the item. A working King Charles? Amazing. Feral cats can be a real problem. Good dog!

  13. I would give anything to have seen Candy running up and down, taunting the goats. I love that rabbit!

  14. I tried this a few Easters ago: I dyed some brown eggs by boiling them in water with a lot of red onion skins, for a half-hour or so. When they were done, the shells were a deep, rich brown color, which I enhanced even more by rubbing a little cooking oil on them. They ended up looking like they were made of some beautiful exotic wood. Needless to say, I served them as hard-boiled eggs (they actually tasted OK), but sometime I need to try blowing them first, then dyeing them, so they could be kept (or sold).

    • I’ll have to try that. For the first time, I’m planting red onion sets this spring. Hopefully, I’ll have nice big onions and lots of peels.