The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Who lays the best eggs?

Egg yolk colorSince we've been averaging about half a cup of black-soldier-fly larvae going to the tractored hens every day (plus they get all of our food scraps), I decided to run a color test on yolks from our pasture versus from our tractor.  I hypothesized that the latter would have the most bright-orange yolks due to all their treats...but I was wrong!

Instead, the orangest yolks came from the pastured hens (although the leghorn egg was paler --- those flighty critters aren't as keen on scratching for their dinner).  It seems that even a daily offering of insects and pepper tops isn't enough to make up for the hens' lack of space to run around.

I should have thrown in a store-bought egg to make this comparison really perfect, but I can tell you from past experience that those yolks would be significantly paler than even the Leghorn eggs.  So, yes, you will be improving over store-bought with a chicken tractor, but for absolutely tip-top eggs, you need to use rotational pastures and to choose those varieties wisely.  Enjoy your orange yolks!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Okay, so I'm assuming that by "pastured" you mean you let them run free in the pasture and then have some means of getting them back to the henhouse so critters don't get them? If so, how do you get them to stay in your yard (okay you've got boo-koh acres for them to run around in, whereas I've only got 2 and neighbors nearby). If you're "tractoring" the hens, wouldn't you also be "pasturing" them since you're moving the tractor from one place to another?
Comment by Nayan Thu Sep 25 10:08:32 2014

Years ago I spent some time in Italy. I always wondered why they referred to the yolk as the "red" of the egg instead of the yellow. It became clear when I started raising free-range hens.

I think the white hens (Leghorn, Poulon) lay paler eggs, making less pigment in general, than the others on the same diet.

Comment by doc Fri Sep 26 07:39:18 2014

Hi Mark and Anna,

I was reading the end of a blog on marksdailyapple about teeth.

The mom who wrote in said her milk got much more orange when she ate dark green stuff. She thought it was due to the large amount of chlorophyl?

Given that one test for beta-carotene and vitamin A is also colormetric, I wonder what is actually in the orange - red egg yolks? Some folks have written about Brix testing egg whites and seen variations from 12 to 16. Maybe if a few of us test our eggs and write in with our data a pattern will emerge?

Has anyone done any measurements or do they have other experiences maybe health related to share?


Comment by John Mon Sep 29 08:58:45 2014

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