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    Artbuc's Avatar
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    Pastured Egg Yolk Color

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    I have been buying eggs which are produced by a company in NH. This company does have genuine pastured eggs which they sell locally at their market. However, they can not produce enough pastured eggs to distribute regionally. Their chickens are free range in the sense they can walk outside but they are fed a soy based diet more or less like regular grocery store eggs. I have been paying a premium for these eggs because they were the closest thing I could get to pastured. They are very nice brown eggs with a deep, dark yellow yolk.

    I just found 100% pastured eggs locally and bought a couple dozen. Had an omelette this afternoon and, to my surprise, the pastured egg yolks looked light pale yellow compared to the non-pastured eggs. Does this mean anything? Is it possible that the pastured eggs really are not pastured as claimed?

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    All I know is that the yolks are the colour they are based on the chicken's diet.

    I would imagine that all pastured eggs are also going to have some variation. How many, and what kind of bugs etc. one chicken eats in New York as opposed to a chicken here on Vancouver Island would most likely result in differently coloured yolks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jojohaligo View Post
    All I know is that the yolks are the colour they are based on the chicken's diet.
    I do know that some chicken scratch feeds have marigold flowers in the mix and that makes the chicken skin more 'golden' and the egg yolk more yellow/orange~

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    I let my chickens roam all over our farmyard. Their yolks are bright, almost neon, yellow compared to the 'free-range' eggs from the store. I have natural feed available for them but they don't tend to eat much of that. I will say that it suprised me to see that they are omnivores. They eat ANYTHING! The cat's kills are even free game for them. Nothing beats goning out to the coop for fresh eggs and frying them up in bacon fat or coconut oil in the morning (or afternoon, or evening...).

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    Free-range does not equal pastured. Pastured means they actually live outside, not that they live inside and have a tiny cat door they'll never find in the corner.
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    You're right, sbhikes. I've bought pastured organic eggs in the past and they still weren't as good in color or taste as ones I get at home. Although, I think there are a few different definitions of 'pastured'.
    My chicken coop is an open-air coop and doesn't get completely closed up, even in the winter. We leave the standard sized door open all day so they're free to come and go as they please and get back in to lay eggs. I think it makes a difference on the health of the bird and the quality of the egg.

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    Artbuc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuroraB View Post
    I let my chickens roam all over our farmyard. Their yolks are bright, almost neon, yellow compared to the 'free-range' eggs from the store. I have natural feed available for them but they don't tend to eat much of that. I will say that it suprised me to see that they are omnivores. They eat ANYTHING! The cat's kills are even free game for them. Nothing beats goning out to the coop for fresh eggs and frying them up in bacon fat or coconut oil in the morning (or afternoon, or evening...).
    This makes me feel better. I was expecting the truly pastured eggs to have a dark yellow-orange color compared to free-range eggs. It is just the opposite. As was mentioned, free-range means the chickens have a door to go outside, but they almost never do and their diet is 100% fed to them, whereas pastured chickens live outside and most of their diet comes from what they can find on their own. In my case the chickens are supplemented with old vegetables and other scraps but no commercial feed which includes soy.

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    I was under the impression that the breed of hen affected the colour of the yolk, but it turns out that isn't the case. Seems to be mainly caused by the feed.
    I found this:
    "Only healthy, well-nourished hens store carotenoids (preliminary forms of vitamin A) in their yolks. Bright golden-yellow yolks show that the hens are well supplied with essential carotenoids such as lutein or canthaxanthin. These protective substances are widely found in nature; they not only give the yolk its yellow color, but also prevent the oxidation and destruction of fragile, vital substances such as vitamins in the egg."

    Interesting!
    Although I did have a farmer once tell me that the older hens' eggs were lighter.... Maybe because they aren't storing/processing the nutrients as well as the younger ones.

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    I have a new flock of pullets just starting to lay. They eat organic soy-free layer pellets, plus free-range in a grazing paddock specially planted for them with clover, winter pea, assorted pasture grasses, etc. (If you want a peek at my set up, check my blog link in my signature.)
    I also have another flock of older hens that I am about to 'retire'. The new gals lay eggs with much paler yolks than the old biddies. I think it takes time to accumulate all the nutrients from free-ranging, since the yolk color eventually gets darker over time. Age is the only difference in my flocks, so that's my guess.

    Maybe your farmer is running a young flock too.
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