During the winter, egg production drops way down because hens require 14 hours of light to maintain egg production. We choose not to stimulate our chickens to lay by using artificial light, so from November until early March, fresh eggs become scarce. During the spring and summer we have an abundance of fresh, natural, free range eggs - so much so that we are able to sell the excess. As a matter of fact, the chickens are the only animal on our farm that actually pay for their own feed.
A hen will start laying eggs at about 6 months of age. The eggs will be small at first, and she will lay an average of 5 eggs per week. Production is highest during her first two years and then tapers off. By 4-5 years old she will lay very few eggs.
Nutritionally, farm eggs are far superior to commercially produced, store bought eggs. Eggs provide the highest quality protein found in any food because they provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need in a near-perfect pattern.
According to nutrient tests conducted by Mother Earth News comparing pasture raised hens to factory egg layers, it has been determined that free range farm eggs contain:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
These studies also indicate that farm eggs contain between 4 - 6 times as much Vitamin D as store bought eggs.
We believe that eggs raised in natural conditions are the perfect whole food, therefore our chicken roam free - we coop them only at night for protection from predators.
I'll be talking more about the merits of chickens and the things we've learned along the way in future posts, but in the meantime I'll leave you with this - I saw it yesterday and I just had to stop everything and make these!