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So the eggs I've been buying are not truly "free-range" after all

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  • So the eggs I've been buying are not truly "free-range" after all



    So, I've been buying eggs from an Amish Farmer for the last couple of months. He assured me his chickens are free-range and they eat grub and such. But today I heard his assistant say something about chicken-feed and I asked the farmer if he gave any additional food. He said he feeds them a grain-mixture of kelp, wheat, corn and some minerals. He said chickens need grains to lay eggs. He said he feeds about 80 lbs of this mixture per day to 300 chickens. Am I doomed to die of inflammation from too much O6? Just kidding, my question is are these eggs any better than the cage-free organic ones in the supermarkets? While eggs from no-grain-fed chickens are ideal, are these a better option than the eggs fed a "vegetarian-diet"? The yolks are definitely brighter than the store bought-ones but not as orange as the ones I've had in a village in the Mediterranean. Advice please.


  • #2
    1



    What's the world coming to when you can't even trust Amish farmers? Sheesh.


    I've heard before that the brighter the yolk the healthier the chicken, but I don't know if that's actually true or not.

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    • #3
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      My mom keeps chickens & her eggs are great. However, if you live in a northern clime there are a few things that you can't avoid. One is to feed the chickens something; the other is that you have to give them artificial light. No laying once the days get short (like now).


      Maba, it doesn't sound like your farmer is feeding them soy, which is the main thing you want to stay away from. Being that the eggs are local, I'd say they're better. Grocery store eggs can be pretty old. And "vegetarian feed" doesn't preclude soy. Yeck!

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      • #4
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        Here in Japan the yolks are much more orange than yellow. Very fresh and eggstremely tasty. So fresh that I learned the "hard" way that if I want to be able to peel the HB eggs, I need to buy them a couple weeks ahead of boiling.


        I can't read the labels so I don't know what the chickens are doing.

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        • #5
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          oh man! I read once in order for chickens to be classified "Cage Free" that just means they have to be let out of the cage once in awhile lol

          not sure if this is true...

          my grandma once fed her chickens pickles! can you imagine! she had a bunch of jars she didnt want so dumped them on the ground and the chickens gobbled them up! weird..xoxo Darlene

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          • #6
            1



            Maba- I buy eggs from the Amish too. Do you go to the market or directly to the farm? I go to the farm and it's nice to see the hens pecking around the yard, though they do get chicken feed as well. Of course they're going to be inside rather than outside come the winter months, assuming I'll even get eggs at all. I still don't know how all that's supposed to work.


            If you can go visit the farm sometime, I'd recommend it. It will give you a better idea of what "your" hens are doing. If they're free-range as the farmer says, and they're getting chicken feed on the side, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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            • #7
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              PrimalGoddess, that's correct. "Free range" and "cage free" do NOT equal pastured by any stretch. The term "free range" requires only "access to the outdoors", which can (and often is) merely a chicken-sized door in a giant, barn-sized hen house. Granted, this is a step-up from typical caged eggs, where hens are kept in battery cages so small they can't really move around at all (they are really crammed in), but it's not even close to the bucolic vision of hens scratching and pecking in a farmyard.

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              • #8
                1



                Keep buying them. "Cage free" eggs does not mean that they get all their sustenance from the barnyard. It means that their diet is supplement by (unlucky) bugs and seeds in the barnyard. I think all chickens are fed, well, feed.


                As mentioned, hens won't lay when the days get too short. So, even there there has to be something unnatural.


                The yolk is the proof of whatever is happening. The more dark orange it is vs. yellow, the more animal (bug) protein the hen is getting.


                Your farmer was forthright when you asked specific questions. What more can you ask for?

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                • #9
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                  Thank you all. I was so disappointed to find out what I did and I also learned that the big brick of butter I bought from him was from grain-fed cows. He said it was illegal to sell raw butter in our state, but said he'd get some for me next week if I don't tell anyone (and you didn't hear this from me). Makes me feel like I'm buying some illegal drugs!!! But anyway, like you all say, it's probably still better than the store-bought ones. I need to make a trip to the farm sometime to see how the chickens are raised, thanks for the suggestion Diana.


                  PG, your account of your grandma feeding pickles to her chickens made me laugh out loud. My aunt in India feeds her dogs leftovers of whatever they eat, the dogs eat everything from rice, yoghurt, lentils to meat!!

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                  • #10
                    1



                    OMG I can only afford regular store bought stuff. Should I just give up now, if I can't even avoid the grains in my meat/eggs.


                    Now I'm totally bummed.

                    The more I see the less I know for sure.
                    -John Lennon

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                    • #11
                      1



                      Earth Momma, I can't afford to buy raw butter and farm-raised chicken eggs either! Even buying a jar of coconut oil was a bit of a stretch, considering how quickly I've already gone through it...But figure that you're doing the best you can in your circumstance. Give up?!? Can you really justify that the CW diet is worth reverting back to if your chickens eat feed?! Come on now.

                      On a mission to help others master movement, build unbreakable strength, & eat MORE food (can't beat that.) Weekly fitness, health & nutrition articles at indulgentfitness.com.

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                      • #12
                        1



                        A farmer who sells eggs has to use feed for his chickens. If he let them "just" eat grass/seeds/bugs they probably would not be daily layers and he wouldn't have enough eggs to sell. Chickens have to be very well fed to lay every day.

                        It makes a huge difference in the nutritional quality of the eggs to allow the hens to graze in addition to their regular feed. The yolks will be more orange and the eggs will taste better and have a more optimal nutrition profile.

                        Don't be afraid to eat animals that eat grains IF the animal was meant to eat that stuff! I don't like eating grain fed beef but grain fed chickens is ok with me because as far as I know, chickens eat a more diverse diet than cows and haven't adapted to a grass only diet like cows have (ruminants).

                        It sounds like you have a great farmer to work with. You are lucky to have that resource. He is helping you learn more about food and farming and that is a great thing!

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                        • #13
                          1



                          Ha maba I was able to buy a pound of raw grass-fed butter that way too! It was a secret I liked it, but the hubs thought it tasted weird (raw grass-fed dairy definitely has a nuttier taste to it). It was $11/pound though, so I just bought hormone free/organic butter the next time.


                          Our chicks are 15 days old now (and already trying to escape from their box!), and they'll have to be supplemented with feed I'm pretty sure. We have a lot of grass in the backyard, and they'll get veggie/table scraps as well, but they will need more food than that. And Darlene, chickens will literally eat anything. Even cooked chicken...I've seen it, it's kinda creepy. But seriously, people in other countries think it's weird to buy "chicken feed" because they are like garbage disposals.

                          You are what you eat,
                          and what you eat eats too - Michael Pollan

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                          • #14
                            1



                            Regarding butter: if you have a grass fed milk source, but some heavy cream (I can find local grass fed milk and heavy cream at my Whole Foods) and make your own butter. It's VERY easy to do.

                            I just put the cream in a Mason jar and shake it until I have a ball of butter surrounded by buttermilk. I squeeze the buttermilk out as best I can, then freeze my ball of butter for about 5-10 minutes, wash it, and squeeze again. A few rounds of this and most of the buttermilk will be gone and you can add a touch of salt or any other ingredients you want. It's very tasty!

                            Google it and give it a try.

                            Also, at Whole Foods there is a brand of butter that is not local but is from grass fed cows. It's called Sraus and it's also organic.

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                            • #15
                              1



                              I also had a similar experience with eggs. At first, I was buying cage-free eggs from the store. The yolk I thought were a bit brighter than regular eggs but still not as bright as I remember them to be when I would go visit my grandma who lived in the village when I was growing up. Then I dished out more money for organic cage-free and I still didn't see any difference. Then I found some farm brown cage-free eggs from one of the bulk foods store and was so excited I bought 6 dozen right away. Came home and similar color.

                              I finally found a farm through Eat Wild just 20 minutes away from where I live that sells cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef. I called them up and went to get some eggs. She showed me around and all of her chickens were just hanging out outside. She said she does supplement them with feed but they spend most of the day outside searching for bugs. She then threw a big bag of dried out bread to them right in front of me and I started having second thoughts. The chicks went crazy and gobbled up all the bread in no time. I got 5 dozen of eggs from them and when I came home and cracked couple of them open to make a scrambly I rejoiced. Finally...really dark orange, big, fresh eggs.

                              The farmer lady told me that the chickens HAVE to be supplemented with feed because they don't get enough food otherwise and stop eating eggs. So it's true, maba

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