Commercial egg producers like to say that eggs are all the same, regardless of the hens’ housing. However, egg producers also recognize that some eggs sell for a premium. Eggland’s best came up with feeding additives to change the fatty acid content of their eggs. Eggs labeled “free-range” sell for more money. Pastured eggs sold at a farmer’s market often go for a couple of dollars more than a supermarket dozen.
The problem is, how to assure the consumer that their expensive eggs aren’t from a typical factory farm? Certainly, all eggs look the same, whether laid by a pastured hen or by one kept in a cage. A researcher in New Zealand has come up with a test to verify what type of housing an egg was laid in. It turns out that a pastured hen, eating a wide variety of food, produces a very different egg than the caged hen. A synopsis of the article can be read in this poultry industry on-line newsletter. Awhile back, Mother Earth News did it’s own analysis of pastured eggs and came up with similar results.
Those of us with backyard hens knew this already, but it’s nice to have scientific proof.