Thursday, September 17, 2009
The incredible egg- are yours edible?
Since we have discussed milk with some detail I thought I would talk about eggs. First off raising your own eggs is much easier then milking a cow a couple times a day, and if you live in a city and they allow you to keep hens it is worth it for the eggs alone.
Again I have to mention how it is important to know where your eggs come from- a running theme- know your farmer.
We have just under 50 hens and get about 3 dozen eggs a day. Our chickens are locked up at night and let out around 10 am (most if not all eggs are laid by then). The chickens have full access to the farm, and they do take advantage of this. We have a mobile coop that moves behind the cows, the idea is that they will eat the fly larvae in the cow manure. Okay now into the interesting stuff.
Did you know:
Each egg has between 6000 and 8000 pours? Each egg also is laid with a protective barrier called a boom, this boom protects the egg from bacteria and other outside toxins that would otherwise seep in through the pours. It is important that this boom stay on the egg. When you buy eggs from the grocery store they are sterilized- the boom is remove exposing all of those pours to bacteria and other germs that are found in the processing plant, the truck, the grocery store, your fridge. Our eggs are each hand check by us and spot washed if need be, but our nest boxes are kept clean with fresh bedding so there is little need to wash the eggs.
Eggs truly raised on pasture are 20% higher in Omega 3 and are much better for you then commercial eggs. Just because a carton tells you that your eggs are free range means nothing-unless you have actually seen them running around you do not know they are free range. The rules to be labeled as free range are really lenient. Check out this article about free range eggs in Australia, I am sure it holds true for the US too.
Chickens are not vegetarians. Lets just set the record straight neither are cows, sheep, horses, ducks, well anything that it on pasture. Now that does not mean that you should buy commercial feed that has meat-by-products in it, because in fact many do not eat what we call meat. But they do eat bugs and bugs are not plants, so not vegetarian! So those that claim that their chickens are eating a vegetarian diet are missing a key protein in the chickens diet. Those chickens are producing inferior eggs, unhealthy eggs. Chickens will also eat meat, they will actually cannibalize if given the opportunity.
Chicken eggs come in all sorts of colors, there is no taste difference, although I have a hard time buying white eggs- to clinical for me. The color of the egg depends on the color of the chickens ear lobe. No joke! Here is an article on what really matters- not the color.
Unhappy birds are unhealthy birds- don't buy your eggs in the grocery store without knowing about the eggs and the birds. Better yet find a local farmer and buy from them. They don't have to be feeding organically to be better eggs. If you want to know you are getting the best eggs, raise your own chickens. Read Joel Salatin's book Pastured Poultry Profits before you start, this is our textbook for raising our hens.