What are Pastured Eggs?

What are Pastured Eggs?
Posted February 3, 2014

Pastured eggs are from hens raised on pasture, as opposed to being kept in confinement and fed primarily grains. Eggs from pastured hens contain higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids than those of their less fortunate cousins, factory hens. Though not necessarily organic, and having both brown or white shells, they are much healthier than those from grain-fed, confined chickens.

The hens might be feed a supplemental diet during the dry winter months, but their diets are usually worms, insects, and other critters on the ground. This natural way of feeding hens gives the yolk that beautiful orange color. They also taste much richer. Pastured eggs also have 10 percent less fat, 40 percent more vitamin A, and 34 percent less cholesterol than eggs obtained from factory farms. Some consumers confuse the concept of free-range eggs with pastured eggs. Many conventional egg supply companies encourage this confusion, because consumers are sometimes willing to pay a premium price for products that they believe were harvested in humane and sustainable ways. The two terms are not synonymous, however, and "free range" eggs, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, must come from chickens that are offered access to the outside.

Many commercial production companies provide this access in the form of a small door that is opened a few times a day; used to being confined indoors, the chickens make no move to explore the outdoors. Pastured chickens are raised in a pasture, with mobile coops to roost in at night. Although there is no scientific basis for it, some people also believe that pastured hens are happier, and seek out pastured eggs because they are concerned about the treatment of food animals. Enjoy pastured eggs in your next omelet, salad, or dessert. You'll notice the difference in taste.

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