Citizen Science project: Backyard Chicken Egg Study

Citizen Science project: Backyard Chicken Egg Study


The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (UCD SVM) is providing free egg contaminant testing for backyard chicken owners in the state of California. 

Results will be shared individually with each owner, and cumulative results will be summarized and made available to the general public. 

Chickens on fence

We are testing eggs for two different types of contaminants.

Fire Contaminant Testing

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Due to the recent fires, there is concern about backyard chickens ingesting contaminants from the ground and transmitting these to their eggs. UCD SVM is interested in testing eggs from these backyard flocks for various contaminants such as heavy metals, building materials, chemicals, etc. 

Heavy Metal Contaminant Testing

Due to observation of high environmental lead levels in parts of California, there is concern that backyard chickens are being exposed to a level that could pose a public health risk. UCD SVM is interested in testing eggs from these birds for various contaminants such as Pb, PCBs, and PBDEs. 

Instructions for submitting eggs

If you are interested in submitting eggs, please drop off at UCCE Sonoma County or ship 2-6 eggs (6 eggs max) from your flock, with tissue around each egg, placed in an egg carton, and wrap (bubble), include information below, secure the carton and ship in a box with packing peanuts. See pictures below for examples of how to pack the eggs for shipping.

Requested information to include (or use attached form):

  • Eggs in Basket (
    Address where hens reside (Street name, City, Zip -- we do not need the number of the address)
  • Number of hens in flock
  • Date eggs were collected
  • Length of time you have owned the chickens
  • Age of chickens
  • Year the house/building the chickens are kept by was built
  • Optional: your email address to receive results

Drop off eggs at UCCE Sonoma County* or ship them to:

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
1 Shields Drive
Bldg VM3B Room 4007
Attn: Dr. Maurice Pitesky
Davis, CA 95616 

If you would like assistance with shipping costs, please contact Anny Huang at the UCD SVM Cooperative Extension at BEFORE shipping. We can generate a shipping label for you and email it to you to print and stick on your package. 

If you have any other questions or comments, please contact Dr. Maurice Pitesky at the UCD SVM Cooperative Extension at or 530-219-1407.

*UCCE Sonoma County office hours: M-F 8am-Noon, 1pm-4pm.

Packing eggs for shipping

Eggs are mailable in domestic mail subject to the following general conditions:

  1. They are individually cushioned.
  2. They are otherwise packed to withstand shocks encountered during normal Postal Service handling.

When you're shipping eggs, the USPS asks that you individually cushion each egg. Use bubble wrap to avoid breakage and shock-proof packaging material such as shredded paper to cushion the individually bubble-wrapped eggs.  Pack your individual eggs closely but not too tightly.

See Free USPS Supplies for boxes.