What’s in an egg?

What do chickens eat? Practically anything they get near. They will devour just about any vegetation, down to the ground. If too many chickens are in one area, they will kill all the vegetation quickly. A chicken can clear a square foot of vegetation in a day. I would estimate without additional food, they would need at least 100 square feet, per chicken, for exclusivly pasture fed chickens. Chickens are not vegetarians. I’m not sure what the advantage of vegetarien fed chickens is. They love to eat bugs. Which actually makes a better egg. As a child I would throw grasshoppers to the chickens, which would cause a football game of sorts. With each chicken stealing the grasshopper from the previous one, and running as fast as it could. A typical farm feeds their chickens layer pellets, which cost about 12 dollars for 40 pounds. This can be supplemented by many things. Such as the left overs after harvesting, or even table scraps. One of the primary factors for organic eggs costing more is that the feed is more expesive, 19 dollars for a 40 pound bag. Chickens require about 4 lbs of feed to make a dozen eggs. This would make feed costs about 1.20 for regular eggs, and 1.92 for organic. Commercial egg producers buy the feed in bulk, resulting in large savings. However as you can see selling eggs is a low profit margin business. This is why eggs at the farmers market are so much higher.
The color of yolk is determined almost exclusivly by diet. Pasture fed chickens have very deep orange colored yolks. Grain fed chickens produce a light pale yellow yolk. The deeper orange the more xanthophylls in their diet. These act like a dye to color the yolk, so that the more plants a chicken eats the more deeply colored the yolk. Omega 3 enhanced eggs, are simply chicken fed with grains containing omega 3’s usually fish oil, flaxseed, and soy. Chickens are cannibals they well eat other chickens, especially a dead one. Any chicken that dies must be quickly removed to prevent the others from cannibalising it. Organic feed has little affect on egg quality. Most home farm raised chicken have grain and pasture land. Another potential factor for feed is soy free. Why is this important? Because eggs from a chicken which consumes soy, will contain the allergens from soy. So anyonewith a soy allergy would be at risk from eating those eggs. Next week we’ll finish this article.

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