Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eggy goodness

If you have chickens, springtime apparently means eggs, and lots of them. Our original flock came into production about this time last year, but now we have 8 hens instead of 5 (plus the one rooster, who has started to think about crowing), and we suddenly seem to be overrun with eggs.

Well, OK, not really overrun. Kiddo #1 mentioned to me this morning that we should get more chickens. I kind of agree, since they're really fun to watch, and I wouldn't mind having some extra eggs to share. :)

The egg on the left is from one of our hens who just came online, most likely a Rhode Island Red. The one of the right is from a seasoned layer, one of our Hylines. Big difference in size! It will take a little while for the new hens' eggs to get to full size.

If found this egg tonight - it's got very odd coloring. Sometimes this happens, although usually you'll see spots or speckles. However, variations in color don't seem to affect the contents of the egg.

At our house, Tuesday night is vegetarian night. Breakfast for Dinner, including scrambled eggs and home-baked bread, is often on the menu.

And if you've ever wondered if you can tell the difference between a grocery store egg and a farm egg, the answer is most definitely YES, you can both taste and see the difference. The yolk on the left is from a brown grocery-store egg left over from Easter, although the hen that laid it was supposedly in a cage-free environment with an all-natural grain diet (so, better than an egg laid by a battery-cage hen). The yolk on the right is from one of our eggs. The intense orange color of our yolk is because of the high beta-carotene content of the eggs, which occurs because the hens eat so much grass.

The grocery-store egg is easily picked out - it's the light-colored one in the center of the bowl.

If color doesn't convince you about the superiority of farm eggs from hens on pasture, perhaps these stats will. According to a study done by Mother Earth News, compared to the USDA stats for the nutritional value of eggs, farm eggs have:
  • 1⁄3 less cholesterol
  • 1⁄4 less saturated fat
  • 2⁄3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 6 times more vitamin D
While I realize that this isn't exactly an exhaustive study of egg nutrition and shouldn't be taken as the gospel truth, certainly I prefer to have eggs that come from healthy chickens out doing chicken-things, like eating bugs and grass, taking dust baths, and yes, crossing the road. Besides, it's fun to go out and see what the girls have left you each day!

And for those of you who don't know, I feel duty-bound to inform you that eggs come from chicken butts. Yes, it's the real, icky truth. If you want more details, refer to How a Hen Lays Her Eggs (warning, some slightly graphic pictures).


  1. What a wonderful post! I remember getting eggs from a neighbor's bantams when I was a kid. The little yolk looked like a butterscotch drop candy! I'd like to have chickens, but don't think it would work with our predatory dogs (not smart guard dogs like Anie).

  2. You know, I'm always trying to tell folks what color our egg yolks are, and you are exactly right, they are the color of butterscotch candies! If you're interested in keeping chickens, you are allowed to have up to 5 hens (no roosters) within Austin city limits but you do have to keep them a certain distance from your neighbor's dwellings. You could consider doing a movable chicken tractor, which would protect them from dogs and other predators but still allow them access to grass and bugs. They really don't take much space and are such a pleasure to have!