When purchased from the store, the eggs are all pristine, packaged in containers and ready to buy and take home. We put them in the refrigerator and think nothing more about them. When you have hens, like we do, its a totally different matter. Besides the normal chicken chores, I have to go out each day and collect the eggs. I do check twice a day, and the girls are generally finished laying by around 3pm around here. Each young hen can lay once every 22-24 hr period, and as they get older, they may only produce 3 or 4 eggs a week. And no, they don't all lay their egg first thing in the morning! That would be way too easy and predictable for their handlers!
Vintage Egg Grader
Eggs come propelling out of the hen because of a thin coating called "bloom", which is natures way of helping to make egg laying more comfortable for the hen. It is slick when the egg is ready to pop out, and it also protects the egg from dirt and germs. It quickly dries as the egg is sitting in the nest box and completely encases the egg. Sometimes wood shavings or straw will stick to the egg when I lift it up, and all I have to do is brush it off and put the egg in the refrigerator. Other times, if the hens are settling in the nest box, their feet might be a little dirty; as they leave the nest and brush against the egg, it might get soiled. Again, I brush off the egg and it's okay to refrigerate. If the soiling doesn't come off readily, I can use slight pressure with sandpaper. Sometimes, the egg might need to be cleaned with water, which quickly washes off the "bloom". At times like that, the "bloom" should be replaced with something, and I will warm food grade mineral oil and wipe the clean egg down, and remove the excess oil; the egg is now protected from germs again.
Pullets "belly-up" to the bar!
If you choose to wash your chicken eggs, use water closest to the same temperature as the egg. Colder water can push the germs to enter the egg, thereby contaminating it, so use care when handling those eggs.