Where Eggs Come From - Dave Ross
Dave here, enjoying the fall beauty, and thinking about chickens and eggs. My usual four-mile walk takes me
past a farm that is close enough to the road to get a good view of the cows, hogs, sheep, and chickens that roam around the pastures.
Not all eggs are the same. Some are produced in egg “factories” where many thousands of hens live in small cages. Their lives consist of eating layer-mash, drinking water, and laying eggs. And that’s about it. We buy those eggs off the store shelves at a decent price. They taste alright and they work okay in recipes. We wouldn't even know that there is something much better out there - until we try farm-fresh eggs from chickens that run about, and scratch around in the dirt, eating bugs, worms, seeds, grain, slugs, grubs, and just about anything else. We’re fortunate out here in the country where so many Amish families have chickens running loose, and little signs out by the end of their driveways that say, “Eggs For Sale.”
Once you try eggs from free-ranging chickens, it’s difficult to go back to eggs from chickens that are kept in cages. The variety of nutrients that a free-range chicken gets is so much greater. The yolks are brighter (sometimes nearly orange) and have higher levels of beta carotene, as well as being more nutritious.
I’m not writing this to get into the discussion of how animals are treated. My intent is merely to explain why I was humored by the sight of a chicken scratching in manure, looking for supper. This is not a distasteful thing at all. A chicken knows what a chicken likes, and the hen in the picture will produce safe and delicious eggs.
When I began dating the girl who has been my long-suffering wife for forty-three years, she had already spent seventeen years on a farm where there were cows, hogs, and chickens. (As a side note here; farm girls are the best. Not much scares them, and they can deal with dirt and manure.)
Anyway, I remember my father-in-law telling me once that “the most efficient way to feed grain to animals, is to feed it to cows; run some hogs in with the cows; and run some chickens in with the hogs. What the cows don’t eat or digest, the hogs will find and eat. Then the chickens will scratch through everything and get whatever's left."
How about this for a couple statistics. In 1945, the average American ate 404 eggs per year. Since then, this figure has slowly dropped to 250 eggs per person each year. That's still a lot of eggs! If you have a source for eggs that come from chickens that can scratch in the dirt, you'll have the best flavored eggs with the highest nutritional value.
We're going to wrap this up for now. Hope your week was great, and if you're able, get outside to enjoy the beauty of fall.
From Kidron, Ohio. So long.