Until the 1950s, most laying hens lived in medium-sized herds in a barn or free-range system, and eggs were sold locally. In contrast, today, more than 94 percent of eggs are in chickens that live in overcrowded, traditional premises with limited access to nature. (1) Unfortunately, these concentrated animal feed farms prefer the production and effectiveness of eggs, rather than their welfare and quality.
Pasture eggs are healthy, nutritious foods, and raising chickens in the backyard means you have constant access to them. Check out this article to learn more about how writer and researcher Katie Melville created her own cooperative. #paleo # nutrition # health
Does cholesterol bother you?
For decades, we have been told that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol leads to heart disease. Many people generally avoid eggs or eat only egg white due to cholesterol problems.
But in fact, dietary cholesterol has little to do with heart disease, and eggs have even less to do with it. (2) The myth of diet and heart has been around for too long. The American Nutrition Guide 2015–2020 even acknowledges that cholesterol is no longer a source of concern. (3)
Find out how 50 years of science hurts your heart
Download this free e-book to learn more about the myth of the diet and the heart and how the heart-healthy diet actually looks.
Observational and prospective data have confirmed that egg consumption does not increase the risk of heart disease or strokeIn a 2013 meta-analysis, up to one egg per day was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. (4) Another large dataset from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, or NHANES III, showed that even the so-called “high” egg consumption of more than seven eggs per week also did not increase these risks. (5)
Even people with blood cholesterol do increased cholesterol intake with food, the so-called "hyperreacting", increased cholesterol intake does not increase the risk of heart disease in healthy men. (6)
Eggs – dense food
Once the cholesterol scam is ignored, eggs are extremely nutritious foodEggs are rich in protein containing all nine essential amino acids. Eggs contain many other nutrients: (7)
- B vitamins
- Vitamin A
- Fat-soluble vitamins D, E and hard-to-reach K2 (found in the yolk, where cholesterol is located)
- Omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Many of these nutrients are contained completely, or at least in abundance, in egg yolk, and not in egg white. But the nutrient content of an egg depends on the diet of the chicken.
Pasture versus ordinary: not all eggs are created equal
The fact that chickens eat directly affects dramatically the nutrition of their eggs. This is an excellent survival mechanism for species; they put all the good things into securing the next generation. Chickens placed in crowded cages or sheds feed mainly on corn, soybeans, and industrial seed by-products. (8) They have little access to green pasture.
Chickens are intended for grazing greens, such as alfalfa and clover, and for feeding bugs. A growing body of research compares eggs from pasture chickens with eggs from chickens found in conventional housing systems, and the differences are striking. Chickens with at least some access to pasture have an elevated level of many nutrients:
- The level of omega-3 fatty acids in pasture eggs is three times higher than in ordinary eggs. (9, 10, 11)
- Pasture eggs have a lower ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to combat the excessive and inflammatory omega-6 content in a standard American diet. (8, 9)
- In pasture eggs, the vitamin E content can be twice as much as the vitamin D content by four times that of regular eggs. (8, 9, 10, 12)
- Vitamin A and antioxidant flavonoids are all higher in pasture eggs. (8, 13)
Four Benefits of Rearing Chickens
Unless you own a lot of land and don't allow your chickens to move around freely, chickens in the backyard cannot produce eggs with as many omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins as truly pasture eggs. However, many of the studies mentioned in the previous section were conducted on chickens that did have access to pasture, but the chicken diet was still largely supplemented by conventional and / or organic feed. Therefore, even small access to grass and bugs – for example, chickens in a spacious chicken coop and running in the backyard – can significantly affect the quality of eggs.
Owning chickens in the backyard provides benefits in addition to nutritious eggs:
- Less pesticides: You control what your chickens eat, and if you buy organic food, there will be less harmful synthetic pesticides in the feed and less residue in the eggs. (14, 15)
- Antibiotic free: Similarly, backyard chickens fed organic food will not be exposed to antibiotics, which are common on regular chicken farms and contribute to the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (16, 17)
- Fresh air and sun: Every morning you must open a chicken house to let chickens and / or into the yard. Exposure to bright light in the morning helps to engage circadian rhythms and improves mood. (eighteen)
- Feeling of reward: Producing your food is nice. With processed foods and grocery stores, we are so easily disconnected from the source of our food. Picking eggs from the yard and serving them for breakfast connects us with our original roots.
Backyard Basics: How to Create Your Own Chicken Coop
Chickens need food, a place, and shelter. Chicken coops come in many varieties, from super basic to unusual. You can build your own or buy a finished construction, but it should include the following:
- Closed, weatherproof structure keep chicks safe from predators and elements
- Three square feet of space per chicken
- Secure door let out chickens for a day
- Chicks sleep at night
- Egg crates– one for every three chickens – these are separate small spaces inside the chicken coop where the chickens will lay their eggs
- Friends! Chickens are social creatures, and tend to cope better with small and medium herds.
The chicken coop should open for a run and / or “chicken field” that provides at least 10 square feet of space per chicken. The run is connected to the chicken coop and is still safe, but it is usually more open with a wire fence and a roof. A chicken field is a larger, mobile, fenced area that can be rotated among grassy plots if necessary.
Additional materials needed for backyard chickens include:
- Food to supplement feeds, which you can often buy at your local farm or garden store
- Water and watering
- Water heater to prevent freezing during cold months (if applicable)
BackYardChickens.com is a great resource for more information.
Backyard Chicken Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need permission to breed chickens in the backyard?
A: Most likely, yes, you will need permission from your city. Different cities have different rules and regulations regarding backyard chickens and other pets. Some requirements may include minimum plot size, distance from neighbors, restrictions on the total number of chickens, etc. Here is a good initial resource for chicken laws.
Q: Should I worry about salmonella?
A: Maybe. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Reported Growth salmonella Outbreaks are thought to be associated with the growing popularity of homestead chickens. salmonella can be found on chickens or eggs that they lay. Personally, we should wash our hands (and change clothes if necessary) after working with animals or eggs.
salmonella and other risks of disease — that’s why we don’t allow our chickens to go free. Ours are in the chicken coop, on the run or in the neighboring fenced area.
Q: Chickens are smelly?
A: Yes, the chicken house exudes this farm-like smell. However, we have a small yard, and this is noticeable only when you are very close to the chicken coop and run.
Q: How much backyard chickens care is needed?
A: Assembling a chicken coop is very time-consuming. To save time or if you do not have skills in this area, you can buy a cooperative. It will be more expensive but save time.
Having chicks is a bit more complicated than laying hens. Chicks need heating lamps, need different types of food, and their bedding changes very often. Chickens will not begin to lay their eggs until they are 18–26 weeks old.
For laying hens, daily care usually does not exceed 10 minutes. If you have automatic drinkers and feeders, you do not need to replace them every day, but you will have to open and close the chicken coop and collect eggs.
Cleaning the chicken coop takes considerable time. There are many ways to keep a chicken coop clean depending on its design, and some require less frequent cleaning than others.
Q: How many eggs can I expect?
A: You can expect about two eggs every three days for each laying chicken during the laying season, which will depend on your location and weather. Chickens need a certain amount of daylight in order to continue to lay their eggs. We live near Boston. In the summer, we get about one egg per day per chicken. In winter we can get one egg Total per day among all eight chickens. Chickens will lay eggs sequentially for about three years and can continue to live much longer.
Q: Do I need to put fresh eggs in the refrigerator?
A: No! Fresh eggs have a protective layer that helps keep pathogens out. Gently wipe off the dirt with a cloth or dry brush and they can safely remain at room temperature on the counter for several weeks. Keeping them dry is important. If the eggs are wet, this allows pathogens to penetrate the shell.
Do not wash eggs with soap and water until you are ready to use them so as not to damage the protective coating.
Where to buy pasture eggs
If you can't have chickens in the backyard but still want pasture eggs, be careful with catchphrases printed on egg boxes at the grocery store. My friend so successfully calls these statements “witchcraft in the supermarket” – labels like “no cage” and “free walking”, which seem to mean happy chickens that roam the fields all day, when often nothing can be further from the truth. Most of these phrases are marketing schemes and are often not well regulated.
It can be difficult to find truly pasture eggs if you don't personally know the farmer, but a couple of good links include Eat Wild and an organic egg scorecard.