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By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
Eggs are one of the nature’s most perfect protein sources. That’s why the average American eats more than 260 eggs each year, according to Flock Management.
Not all eggs are created equally. Egg quality, taste and nutrition are connected to the production system behind the egg. It all starts with the feed given to the hen who lays the eggs, according to Flock Management.com.
People might say an egg is an egg, but really there is a significant difference between a farm fresh egg and a commercial farm egg.
Purina Animal Feeds tell us that one difference is egg size and color. Farm fresh eggs can range from a size smaller than a golf ball to the size of the inside of your palm, depending on which breed of chicken you have on your farm. Ultimately, the shell color or egg size really doesn’t matter much; they don’t change what is inside the eggshell.
Purina Animal feeds also tell us there is a difference in shell and yolks. When a farm fresh egg is cracked open, the farm fresh egg’s yellow yolk will be a couple of shades darker than a commercial egg.
The feed quality plays a role in deciding the yolk color. Chickens raised in a small-scale setting are usually feed with food sources that are of a higher quality than are chickens who are raised in commercial industry.
Farm fresh chickens, especially those allowed to free range, spend time outdoors, soaking up the vitamin D. That translates to a much better tasting egg. The vitamin D is also the reason why the eggshell is different when comparing farm fresh eggs and commercial eggs. Vitamin D is why farm fresh eggshells are much firmer and harder to crack.
Farm fresh eggs tend to have lower levels of cholesterol, less saturated fat, increased vitamin A, E and D, more omega-3 fatty acids and more beta carotene. After all, you are what you eat.
According to greengrowing.com, store bought eggs from chickens kept in cages have a higher risk of containing salmonella, which occurs in chicken eggs laid by an infected hen. Greengrowning.com also says that scientists agree that the living conditions of caged hens greatly increases the risk of contracting the illness.
If you buy eggs from a store the eggs have been washed, but if you buy directly from a farm, odds are, they have not been washed and still have a protective layer on them called the bloom. The bloom protects the egg from any outside bacteria.
When talking about which colored egg is better for you, brown or white, Purina Animal Feed says that brown eggs are just brown eggs, white eggs are simply white eggs and that is the only difference between the two. Purina reinforces that it is what you feed to the hen that makes the difference between eggs.
So, think you are ready to raise your hens? Below are steps that will help you become succefull at raising backyard chickens. If you want to keep chickens for eggs, it is a good idea to choose the best breeds that produce the most eggs.
Before you jump on the wagon and buy chickens, do your research to find the right fit for you. Although the White Leghorn is a top competitor when it comes to laying eggs, they also having a nervous and flighty temperament, but they have an annual egg production of an estimated 280 eggs. The White Leghorns start laying eggs around 16 to 17 weeks old. When grown, the hens will be about five pounds.
The next chicken to think about is the Americana, also known as the Easter Egg Chicken. These birds lay multicolored eggs that are as delicious as they are colorful. They tolerate all climates. The annual egg production is an estimated 250 eggs, and they start laying around 25-30 weeks old. Their temperament is broody and will weigh around five pounds when grown.
The third type of chicken is the Rhode Island Red. Their egg production is around 280 eggs per year and start laying eggs between 16-17 weeks of age. They have a nervous temperament and will be around five pounds when fully grown.
There are many breeds of chickens available. Research which breeds are best for you to get your very own farm fresh goodness.