Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All About Eggs

Around Easter, grocery stores practically give eggs away. Last night I came across a website that explains the differences in supermarket eggs. I thought I would share some of this information here. For the record, I did not verify this data so if you know something is not correct, please let me know.

First of all, the color of the eggshell has no bearing on the nutritional value of the egg. Instead, it is related to the ear or cheek color of the hen. Second, the color of the yolk is directly associated with the hen's diet. A very pale yolk means that the hen lives in overcrowded quarters, is underfed or lacks greens in her diet.

The supermarket eggs that you normally throw in your grocery cart come from 'battery hens.' These are White Leghorn hens that are crammed into small cages so they barely have room to stand let alone move around. Commercial egg farmers prefer White Leghorns because these chickens are super egg laying machines. They are provided food, water, and light 24 hours a day (the more hours of light a chicken gets, the more eggs she lays). The hens never see the sun or a rooster, they never taste grass, they never get to peck at the ground or take dust baths. In short, as the author of this website says, they live in Chicken Hell. As I mentioned above, the eggs from these birds are pale, higher in cholesterol, and for the most part tasteless. Of course, you may not know this if you have never eaten a 'real' egg.

Some people pay a premium for brown eggs because they think they are healthier. Well, sometimes those brown eggs are simply supermarket eggs that have been dyed brown so the next time you buy brown eggs check the carton. Real brown eggs tend to be healthier because the most common commercial brown egg layer breed - the Rhode Island Reds - cannot tolerate being housed in overcrowded cages. These birds have to be kept in runs which means slightly better eggs.

What about those fancy fertile eggs? A fertile egg simply means that a bunch of hens and a rooster have been crammed 'cheek by jowl' into a large run inside a building that is lit 24 hours a day. The rooster may or may not have mated the hen. Roosters, like the Rhode Island Reds, cannot be kept in battery cages. Fertile eggs are only slightly better than the white supermarket eggs.

Free range eggs are the same as fertile eggs without the rooster in the run. The hens live in cramped quarters in a building so they get no sunlight and never experience grass between their toes.

The Madsen/Wong eggs will be 'pasture' eggs since our chickens are free range birds with access to sunlight and grass and lots (and I mean lots) of room to stretch their legs. Our eggs will have a very dark yolk since the birds will be eating lots of plants. We will also feed them lettuce and spinach. I will also supplement their diet with organic chicken feed designed specifically for laying hens.


  1. Basically, what she is saying is, "We have 200 dozen eggs coming this year... BUY THEM!" :) Support your friends and Happy Chicken Habits. :)