More “Eggs-cellent” Bennies from Backyard Chickens!
Eggs from free ranging pastured chickens are nutritionally superior to supermarket eggs. That’s because pastured chickens will eat as varied a diet as we do when it’s offered to them. Along with lots of bugs and worms for protein they help themselves to all of the edible weeds in your yard, and whatever garden plants they deem tasty, and that generates more nutritious and better tasting eggs! Chickens enjoy all kinds of vegetables, fruits and grain products, and will consume fruit and veggie peelings as well as leftover oatmeal. In 2007, Mother Earth News completed an egg testing project and published the results (1). Egg samples from 14 different flocks around the US, were sent to an accredited laboratory in Portland, OR to test for nutrient content, and compare their findings against the Department of Agriculture’s nutrient data for commercial eggs. Test results showed that compared to regular commercial eggs, eggs from hens free ranging on pasture may generally contain:
- 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
- 4-6 times more vitamin D
“High Omega 3” eggs available in supermarkets are produced by the addition of flaxseed or flax oil to chicken feed, and can elevate the Omega 3 content to as much as 225 mg of Omega 3 per egg. Testing has shown that eggs from pastured chickens may contain even higher amounts of Omega 3, up to even double the amount in a commercially produced “high Omega 3” egg. Nutrient content does vary according to what is available for the chickens to forage as well as the type of supplemental food they are offered. But eggs from pastured chickens typically offer a very good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, just one more reason to enjoy eggs from pastured or “backyard” chickens!
By Lisa Murray, RDN, LD