What do you feed chickens to get the best tasting eggs?
Home grown free-range eggs are always going to taste better than factory produced eggs, that goes without saying. But is true that feeding chickens the right food will make a great tasting egg even better?
Nina Lalli of peebottlefarms fame believes there is a difference in chicken diets that gives some eggs a superior taste. When exploring the options of the ideal diet she considered such things as:
- A carnivorous diet
- Dried whole corn and grains
- Pasture supplemented food
- Dry grass, legume hay, kelp meal, and fermented hay
- Fish oil and fish meal
The basis for the carnivorous diet stems from the fact that chickens when left to forage for themselves naturally eat worms and bugs which are very high in protein. This could be why free range chickens have the best tasting eggs. Or as Dan Barber, chef and farmer, states “We just don’t know what exactly happens when chickens are able to forage outside, and express their full chicken-ness. Maybe it’s the moon, maybe it’s the attitude of the flock.” So maybe there is more than just diet that contributes to the flavor of the eggs.
The color of the egg can be influenced by the chicken’s diet which is why some farmers feed their chickens a diet of marigolds. The marigold translates into a richer colored egg yolk. Other farmers feed the chickens a diet high in corn or alfalfa because that makes a yellower egg yolk. Rob Thompson of the Center for Discovery in N.Y. believes that egg color was greatly influenced by the quality of supplemental feeding in winter.
For the full discussion check out Nina’s post, but the long and short of it was that she decided more testing needed to be done in her Brooklyn homestead farm.
A great demonstration of the different egg color as affected by diet was shared by Growing Organic, Eating Organic in this photo:
As far as health related benefits from free range healthily fed chickens go Aglaée the Paleo Dietitian shares this nutrition chart:
The Chicken Feeding View Of Homesteading Guide
Natural is best!
We run our chickens free range because we have the space to do so. They have the run of almost quarter of an acre fenced off for their benefit. It is in grass and has numerous fruit trees growing in the pen as well. When the grass gets out of hand the sheep go in and help eat the grass down. The chickens also get table scraps and some chicken pellets when there is little or no other food to supplement their foraging.
Not having had the famed Italian eggs that Nina was comparing hers to, but I can say that our chickens produce a pretty tasty egg. Is it the diet, the happy disposition or breeding of the chickens, or is it a photosynthesis reaction from the sun? – I cannot say. But the balanced and healthy diet leads to healthy chickens which would surely be a strongly contributing factor in the flavor of the eggs.
If you have other opinions or evidence please let us know. We love to hear the experience of our homesteading friends.