Daily, I have an extraordinary experience to look in the fridge, see no food, and go outside and gather my breakfast. Eggs are a daily part of life here.
First, i found out that I had a clutch hatch right under my nose. It's not hard, they do their darndest to find the most ridiculous hiding spots. I am not going under the shed's crawl space trying to find new nests. And when i do find the nests? if they've been that cunning and there at least 10 eggs in there, well ok, i gotta let her set on them cause, well... look at all that trouble she went thru. I don't get the eggs. She don't get the eggs. this way its a win win.
One time I had a clutch on the top of an armoire. She would sneak in daily, thru the cat door, lay the egg, and sneak back out. Which is unusual because most chickens will proclaim to the world, quite loudly, once they've laid an egg. Not this one.
Once my wily momma hen decided she was going to lay her clutch on the roof. NOW how was momma going to get them down? She obviously was only thinking in the moment. They ain't smart but they are wily.
Next, i just finished a conversation with a long time friend about the benefits of farm fresh vs store bought. And the benefits are many. Once you eat a fresh egg, store bought taste like styrofoam. Just the color differences in the yolk are huge. And so on. From shell strength to odor, to longevity. It was an odd conversation. And i realized many don't really know much about it. Hence this post.
My most recent conversation: i had a friend with kids come over and as i was trying to explain my eggs were just like the ones in the stores, but better, And to show them how rich and yellow the yolk was..... yikes.....as i cracked the egg, a dead full formed chick was in there. UGH! Not how i want their first experience on the farm to go. It seems my little stinker of a dog found it from the clutch that hatched, picked it up, moved it, and then one of the kids thought it was Easter. :) handed it to me. And the start of the discussion of where eggs come from, etc. I'm thinking this is a fresh egg, and well.... needless to say i did not make converts that day. :(
So as my explanation went terribly wrong, the goal was to explain and show many differences between store bought eggs and fresh from the farm.
So lets try this again, but without the visual aides.
so, JO, what are the differences?
Without going into things that many blogs/websites etc already point out we'll just take a few really really important points. Here is a good article to read.
Store bought eggs can have 2x's the amount of cholesterol than farm fresh.
Fresh eggs are proven to be healthier for you.
Farm fresh 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
Here is a chart that outlines the healthy differences and the where the studies were done. I Found it HERE at Mother Earth News.
NOTHING you buy in the store is going to be as healthy and as fresh and as yummy as something you get from your LOCAL farmer or farmers market.
And don't believe everything you read on labels that say "organic" "free-range" etc. Anything you buy in the store chances are have been shipped hundreds of miles, sat in refrigerated trucks, and came out of less than healthy chickens. We've all seen those pictures.
Here are some things city gals just might not know...
Everybody, knows about the "bloom" on a farm fresh egg, right?
The bloom, shield, etc. It's Mother Nature's way in preserving the egg. Its a microscopic coating on the egg. It shields it from the weather and from going bad for a certain amount of time. An egg can sit for weeks on the kitchen counter, as long as you don't wash the bloom off.
Store bought eggs? there is no bloom, those eggs are so different in that they've been washed immediately, sometimes pastuerized, and then handled so many times its a wonder the yolk is still intact when you finally get them.
I know it goes against common sense. Egg on the ground must wash. But don't. Sounds icky, and surely isn't always pretty but, don't do it. YES, of course, take a dry rag, or in my case my shirt, and you can wipe anything off it. But then put it in the fridge. or leave it on the counter. Hey, life ain't pretty. Your eggs don't need to be either. When ready to use THEN you can wash them. Cool, eh? Mother nature provides what it needs to.
The way of the chicken is to lay one egg daily. She will lay everyday till her clutch of 12. THEN she sets on them. Because she might not start setting on this first egg for another 12-15 days, the bloom is there for this one reason. BUT, it also works in our favor.
Another thing you might notice is that a farm fresh egg has a thicker shell, store boughts don't. A chicken healthy in calcium will produce a healthier shell. Healthier shell keeps the egg and yolk inside FRESHER.
Now the older the chicken gets? the thinner the shell will too. So, i can always tell who is my great layers, or who is the new layer. You can tell all from the thickness of the shell.
So here i have dirty eggs, brite, brite yellow yolks, and harder shells. When you first come across it you think what's wrong here? But what is wrong is that we are so ingrained with bad as acceptable that when I first started in chickens i was worried that there was something wrong with my eggs... duh!
Another thing? i have NEVER needed to add salt or pepper to a fresh egg. EVER. they taste that good.
Here is another tidbit some don't know:
All chickens lay eggs, with or without a rooster.
yep... this is one animal that just lays for the joy of laying. No rooster, no chicks. She can set on them and nothing will happen.
If there is a rooster around the eggs are fertile.
No Rooster Not fertile.
Fertile eggs taste NO DIFFERENT than unfertilized eggs.....
Its just another THING you have to get over. A mental thing. And, Yes, its possible to see that "start". Do you see it all the time? NO. Do the eggs taste any different? NO. Does it freak out non farm types? YES. Do you get over it? ABSOLUTELY. I did.
Fresh eggs are just too dam delish.
All chickens eat bugs. Even the ones in factory farms.
Chances are those bugs in a factory farm are cockroaches. Here we have healthy bugs. :) i'm not joking. Well, just a tad. Yes, all chickens eat bugs. They spend their whole day searching and boy oh boy when they find a bootie? they call out to all the rest. "Come look what i found"... chickens help the compost pile. Chickens help me out as my disposal. Chickens really are little dinosaurs. And everything they eat on their own, given the chance to pick and choose, make YOUR egg absolutely delicious. Trust me. Go to the farmers market next weekend and just buy a dozen.
So now that we got that out of the way, what is better? a chicken forced to eat what someone tells them to eat? or a chicken the picks and chooses what they need to keep them healthy all on their own. Obvious? well... not to most. I always feed my chickens. BUT i also let them pick thru whatever they want to. i don't keep them locked up. So any given day you might find them in the compost pile. Eating watermelon i just threw out. Eating their grain i tossed them. Drinking water from a puddle. Believe it or not, this is all healthier than those poor chickens stuck in a factory. Or even the ones that are in unmovable coops.
There are two types of chickens. MEAT and EGG.
chickens known for their egg laying abilities aren't necessarily going to be a meaty chicken. And a meaty chicken might not be a good egg layer. So, if you have a great laying chicken? you keep her for as long as you can produce her. In my instance? she worked hard for me, so she will never get eaten. So in a few years i'll have a bunch of geriatric chickens running around here.
There are dozens of BREEDS of chickens.
Check out McMurray Hatchery. And see all the different kinds. What are mine? well... i'm not sure. My one matriarch hen is a white leghorn, we think. My rooster could a Brown leghorn. Not sure there either. The friend i got them from bought assortments all the time. And never segregated them. So every once in awhile a new color comes out in a hatchling. Or a frizzle. Or whatnot. None of this matters to me. They lay eggs. They lay nice eggs consistently. Most importantly they are really healthy eggs, and chickens. And i rarely have to do anything but feed them.
They are my little dinosaurs.
HERE is an old post if you'd like to see more pictures of them hatching.
HERE is an old post when i first got my Rooster.
HERE is my all time favorite pics of when my hen found that she could ride the piggy. Now she rides anything, the goats, the horses, even the dogs. :)