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For most of us, me included, the best part of keeping backyard chickens is the constant supply of fresh eggs. In my opinion, the quality of a store-bought egg can not compare to one which is freshly gathered from the chicken coop.
Sometimes however we might crack an egg into the pan only to discover the white (also called the albumen), is more watery than we are expecting. In this article, I look at the reasons why our chicken eggs are sometimes watery.
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Why are my chicken eggs watery?
Having been keeping, breeding, and showing chickens for over 20 years, I have come across my fair share of watery eggs. Below I have compiled a list of why eggs are sometimes watery.
Based on my experience there are essentially 5 reasons.
Age of the chicken
Many breeds of chickens will continue to lay eggs for years. In one of my flocks I have some birds that are 7 years old, and they still occasionally lay me a fresh egg.
As these birds get older, it is a fact that the quality of the eggs they lay does deteriorate. The eggs laid by older birds do tend to be more watery than those laid by their young counterparts.
Strains of high-laying birds like White Leghorn or Rhode Island Reds are particularly susceptible to water eggs in later life. This is possibly down to the sheer number of eggs they lay in their lifetime.
There is no real solution to this problem. Your chickens are as old as they are. If they are constantly laying watery eggs, consider adding some younger birds to the flock to give you a mix of watery and less watery eggs.
High ammonia levels in the coop
When our chickens go to the bathroom, their poop is high in ammonia. Most chickens poop continually throughout the night, which leads to a build-up of waste in the chicken coop. Chicken poop is very high in ammonia, which is one of the reasons it is a great additive for the compost pile.
When the poop builds up in the coop, the levels of ammonia in the air can start to affect the chickens. Research has shown that birds that are exposed to high levels of ammonia typically lay eggs that are more watery.
To reduce the ammonia levels in the coop you will need to clean the coop out more often. Many of my own coops I have to clean out at least once a week, and some of them I do more often.
If you have a small coop with a large number of birds you may need to clean the coop as often as 3 times a week to reduce the quantity of dropping that are releasing ammonia.
The eggs are old
We homesteaders and backyard chicken keepers always use the term ‘fresh eggs’. Fresh is a relative term. On the egg spiral that sits on my countertop as I write this article I currently have 32 eggs. That means, at the rate we typically eat eggs, it will take me around 10 to 14 days for the egg at the top of the spiral to reach the bottom.
One cause of watery eggs is just the fact the eggs have been sitting around for too long before being eaten. If the eggs could be 3 or more weeks old, there is a good chance the white has simply begun to break down, causing it to be runnier than it otherwise would have been.
Working through your eggs more quickly, trying to keep them for a maximum of 2 to 3 weeks before eating them will reduce the chances of the eggs being watery.
Incorrect egg storage
As discussed above, proper storage of eggs is essential to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
If eggs are stored in an area that is too warm or the humidity is too low, the eggs may begin to deteriorate, and the white can become watery.
To solve this problem, care should be taken to ensure the eggs are stored either at room temperature or if you live in a very warm area, in the refrigerator. Eggs should keep for between 3 and 5 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
There are some diseases our chickens can catch, such as Infectious bronchitis that can affect the chickens’ eggs. Infectious bronchitis is one of the most contagious poultry diseases.
Chickens who have Infectious bronchitis may well lay eggs that are more watery than normal, and they can continue to lay watery eggs for several weeks after they recover from their Infectious bronchitis.
There are a couple of other diseases that can also affect the chickens’ eggs. If your chickens are unwell or have been treated for an infection or disease, maybe give them a couple of weeks to return to normal egg-laying.
Are Watery Eggs Safe To Eat?
Watery eggs are perfectly safe to eat providing the eggs are still fresh, the shell does not have any cracks in it (which may let bacteria in) and the egg doesn’t smell. The smell is a great way to tell if an egg has gone off.
Many older birds simply lay eggs that are more watery. It generally does not mean they are less safe to eat.
Problems with watery eggs?
Birds that lay watery eggs, also often lay eggs that are mishappened, wrinkled, or have thinner shells. Providing an individual egg does not have a cracked shell, and does not smell, the chances are it is fine to eat.
You might be surprised to learn that in commercial egg production there is actually a technical measurement for how watery an egg is.
According to Wikipedia,
The Haugh unit is a measure of egg protein quality based on the height of its egg white (albumen). The test was introduced by Raymond Haugh in 1937 and is an important industry measure of egg quality next to other measures such as shell thickness and strength.
Sometimes our chickens lay watery eggs. This is not necessarily a problem, it all depends on the reasons why the eggs are watery and other factors such as does the egg smell.
If you are concerned about the eggs your chickens are laying, take some time to work through the list above and see if your chickens are suffering from any of the issues listed.
Why not take a minute to read an article I wrote recently titled Why Is My Chicken Laying 2 Eggs Per Day?