I do not wash the eggs collected from our flock. I do not like poopy eggs either. With a few considerations and management practices it is possible to collect clean eggs.
Nest box design. Nest boxes should be adequately sized. A converted 5-gallon bucket makes a nice nest box.
Adequate number of nest boxes. Guidance varies but a minimum of one nest box per four or five layers should be provided.
Nest box placement. Nest boxes should be placed above the ground but lower than the roost area. If the roosts are higher than the nest boxes the chickens will generally prefer to sleep on the roosts. Nest boxes should be placed in a quiet and preferably darkened location. Hey, they are doing important work and would like to do it in peace! The nest boxes in 107’s hen house are in the far corner away from all the action on the lower level.
Nesting material. I’ve found that aspen shavings hold up the best in the nest boxes but I’ve also used Eco Flakes. One bale of aspen shavings is adequate for nearly one year of three clean nest boxes. The old nest box material can be reused in the hen house under the roost area.
Daily cleaning of nest boxes. Clean the nest boxes daily and remove any poop, feathers, or other debris and fluff the nest material.
Adequate enclosure or run space. Ensure there is adequate enclosure or run space so the nest boxes are not being used as a hiding place for chicken(s) being bullied.
Deter nest box sleeping. Employ a nest box block or what we around 107 Garden call a “NBB." A slot allows the NBB to be slipped between the nest boxes and the hen house thus blocking access to the nest boxes. The NBB prevents recently introduced pullets or bullied chickens from sleeping or hiding in the nest boxes. It also prevents broody hens from hanging out all day and night a nest box. Timing is important: be sure to not use a block until all the chickens have finished laying for the day!
Nest box curtain. I do not use a nest box curtain but it could be helpful if your chickens need more privacy. It can decrease the light in the nest box and deter egg pecking or egg eating.
Nest box rail. A rail can be a poop-removing device as the chicken enters the nest box the poop will be knocked off.
Frequent egg collection. Collecting eggs frequently can minimize the amount of poop being tracked into the nest boxes and onto those lovely fresh eggs.
Here's to no more poopy eggs!
- Gail Damerow (2010). Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781603424691.