What's the differences between white store eggs and the ones I pick up in my backyard?
Shell color: White, brown, green, blue? It all depends on the breed of chicken! White egg layers are slightly more efficient than brown layers, hence the cheaper price at the grocery store! We picked brown layers because I like red animals - sheep, cows, chickens. And because I was 29 and had never eaten a brown egg before.
Here's a cool fact from Penn State - thanks to genetics- today's layers will average 300 eggs per year! In 1947, that number was only 150.
Yolk color: It's all determined by diet! Professional hens (I made that term up) eat a diet just like a professional athlete. The farmers work with nutritionist to get a diet that meets their exact needs in an efficient way.
The efficient part is important - that is a huge factor in keeping eggs an affordable source of protein! This is especially important for low income families.
Now my chickens - they eat chicken feed. And loads of other stuff. They eat whatever they find on the ground, our dinner scraps, "scraps" from the livestock. You name it, a chicken will eat it. Except potato peels. Someone told me those are poisonous to a chicken but I don't have a clue if that's true or not.
That mixed diet is awesome for our 19 hens plus it's fun for the boys to take all sorts of scraps to the chickens (if you ever have a chance, watch a chicken eat a grape!).
But a diet like that is not efficient or affordable for raising the 76.5 billion eggs the US eats each year. It can also cause problems for the chickens. My chickens are at a much greater risk for diet related issues like getting too much of something, not enough of something, or exposure to something hazardous to a chicken (like potato peels). Again, I have no idea if that is true.
Nutrition/ Safety: Equal! The diets of the chicken will vary the nutritional content slightly but not in a notable way.
So - should you raise your own chickens? You bet if you have the time and place to do it!
Should you buy eggs from someone raising backyard chickens? Absolutely! If you don't mind paying a little premium, love that richer yolk, and don't mind washing your own eggs.
Should you fear buying store bought eggs? NO WAY! Those eggs are safe, nutritious, raised by family farmers AND significantly cheaper than mine (like half the price).
Just eat some eggs!
(And follow the Facebook page because we are going to give away green eggs soon...)