Friday, May 6, 2011

A word about eggs

Lately I have had some really interesting questions about chickens and eggs. Some from kids, who might be expected to not know the facts, but even from adults. It just goes to show, again, how far away from our food sources we have become.  so, a few answers for those who may not know...

1. What color is the egg inside this green shell? How about this brown one?
The color of an egg shell has nothing to do with anything, except the breed of chicken that laid it. Eggs come in all colors (look at my variety, here), but no matter what it looks like on the outside, the inside does not vary in looks or quality. Brown eggs are not better for you because they are brown.

2. How are your eggs different from the ones at the store?
If you have only ever had commercially farmed eggs, you don't know what an egg is really like! USDA certified farmers have 30 days from the day an egg is laid to get it to stores. Then, the stores have another 30 days to sell the eggs.  After 2 weeks, the quality and texture have noticeably declined.  The whites will be thinner and runny, the yolks will get more pale and loose.  The USDA recommends a maximum of 5 weeks in your refrigerator before you discard your eggs. What does this all boil down to? On April 1, you could be eating an egg that was laid on Christmas. (stats from Wikipedia). Now really, do you want to eat an egg that is that old?
Currently, my hens lay 15-20 eggs a day, so we always have the freshest eggs available.
A fresh egg will stand at attention when you crack it into a bowl. If the hen is well fed with lots of greens and bugs, the yolk will be a golden orange. And the texture, when cooked, is rich and creamy.  The taste is nothing like commercial eggs!
3. Can hens have babies without a rooster?
Um, no.

4. Why do you keep a rooster?
So that we can have babies!

5. Can I take home one of the eggs and hatch it?
Yes, I do it all the time! Of course, this child was proposing sitting on it, which doesn't work so well. :-)  With proper incubation (in a humid space with temps between 99.5 and 102) a fertile egg will hatch in 21 days. If you buy a fertile egg from the refrigerated section at the store, it will not, because the egg is too old and has been chilled. If you want to hatch eggs, contact me, I always have plenty available!


  1. I love it! Can hens have babies without a rooster...response, "um, no". Quick question, have you had any problem with worms in your chickens, and what did you do to alleviate the problem. Also, you have Pink Pearl apples?!! Those are my favorite in the world and nobody I know has any idea where to get them. I am so jealous!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Mary,
    I haven't had to deal with worms (actually, I've been really lucky and the worst we had was a coughy-sneezy thing this winter, and a case of Coccidiosis that we were able to knock out after it killed 3 birds. :-(, but Backyard Chickens covers every topic you can imagine! Here is a thread about worms (eww).

    I, too, love the Pink Pearl apple. Had it for the first time last year, I love the color and that is looks like a heart when you cut it in half! Oh, and that it is an heirloom variety. I had to ask my local nursery to order it for me, but they got it from (they don't sell retail)
    I ordered it many months in advance, so they wouldn't sell out. I bet Sloat Nursery in SF would be able to do that, if you have no nursery closer. ( Now you can plant one in the Fall! YAY!

  3. I have 3 week old chicks that I hatched out in my preschool classroom. Had the incubator, the whole nine yards as a science project. I was absolutely shocked at how many adults/parents who came into the room to watch the process did not know that you need a rooster to get chicks or that chickens lay an egg everyday no matter what or that you can't take an egg from the store and just hatch those. People really are so far removed from the process...very sad.

  4. Stacy,
    Very sad, yes, but awesome that you, as a teacher, taught the process to your students. Even at a preschool level, they will remember that experience! From one teacher to another, huzzah!

    Thank you so much for the links for help with my chicken's health. I am so nervous to use the Wazine on my little girls, but I want to keep them healthy and safe from the little, nasty wigglers that give me the skeevies! And I am totally going to order my own Pink Pearl!