Keeping chickens can provide endless entertainment and they make great pets. But they also provide us with an amazing nutritious benefit – eggs! But what is in an egg? And are home raised really better than store bought?
Firstly let’s look into what exactly an egg is.
Anatomy of an Egg
Egg Colour- Supermarket eggs are generally brown or white. But backyard layers can also produce a multitude of colours. Green (Easter Egger), Blue (Aracauna), Chocolate (Marans and the easter bunny!). You might even notice variants of these colours, including pink.
No matter the colour, the insides are the same.
Shell– The shell is made up of calcite and is the grainy textured surface that protects the egg. Bumpy and grainy in texture, an eggshell is covered with as many as 17,000 tiny pores, which means air and moisture can pass through.
Yolk– The yolk is where you will get the most nutrients from the egg; iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, phosphorus, calcium, thiamine and riboflavin. The yolk’s colour can change depending on what the hen is being fed. Try cracked corn, you’ll notice it!
Albumen– The albumen is the egg white. This contains many of the eggs proteins.
Inner and Outer Membrane– There are two membranes in an egg, both found in between the eggshell and egg white. They help to protect against bacteria and are quite strong.
Air Cell– The air cell is a space that grows as the egg ages. This is the indentation you will notice in a hard-boiled egg.
Are our backyard eggs actually better for us than store bought?
In 2007, a study conducted by Mother Earth News in the USA, revealed that free- ranged hens from fourteen different small family farms laid eggs that were far superior in nutritional quality than hens raised in confined conditions.
Backyard hen eggs had:
- Twice as much Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Three times more Vitamin E
- Seven times more Beta-carotene from Vitamin A
- Fifty percent more Folic Acid
- One quarter LESS Saturated Fat
- One third LESS Cholesterol
- Up to six times more Vitamin D
- Significantly more of the B Vitamins
- Significantly more of the Antioxidants, Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These are incredible statistics, and definitely make backyard chicken keeping very worthwhile.
What about yolk colour?
Have you ever noticed that the yolks can be various shades of yellow? The shade of an egg yolk is completely determined by the hen’s diet. Hens who are given feed full of yellow-orange pigments will lay eggs with darker yolks. It’s as basic as that.
Try adding marigold flowers, or cracked corn to your hens diet, and you will notice a much darker yellow yolk. Reddish yolks are made possible by adding capsicum to chicken feed, and throwing in a dash of paprika can have the same effect.
Realistically, the colour of the yolk doesn’t add any nutritional variant, but certainly looks great on the plate!
So who has some wonderful egg recipes? Please share them here, and we can all enjoy the wonderful nutritious benefits of our backyard friends.