Making the Most of Your Backyard Eggs
Who doesn’t love breaking a nutritious home-grown egg in the skillet for breakfast in the morning? If you are a backyard flock raiser, you know the value and pride that comes from raising your own breakfast. But can you do anything to influence the appearance and quality of your eggs? The truth is that you can, and it almost all boils down to nutrition.
Eggshell quality is a key component of overall egg quality. Most of what makes an eggshell weak or strong has already been determined prior to the egg having been laid. These contributing factors are varied and include the age and breed of bird, housing system, nutrition, stress, and disease. One of the most consistent factors in declining eggshell quality is the age of the hen, which means your older girls have a higher calcium requirement.
Eggshell quality can be influenced by nutrition (making sure that there is enough calcium for your flock) for older hens to help maximize their production cycle. At the same time, careful attention must be paid to key components like phosphorus and vitamin D. Both of these nutrients, while necessary in the diet, can cause weak eggshells if too much is included.
Desirable egg size is something that varies widely based on country and customs. While some countries value super-sized eggs, other locations may only appreciate a smaller-sized egg. The good news is that egg size can be somewhat tailored to meet your needs. For example, the heavier a hen is at the onset of lay, the bigger the egg size will be. By managing the bodyweight of hens, producers can also manage egg size. Heavier eggs can also be achieved by feeding added ingredients such as certain amino acids and linoleic acid. Adding more protein to the diet will also make a heavier egg.
The Importance of Yolks
The color of the yolk directly correlates to what the hen is being fed. Carotenoids fed to the hen result in a deeper golden yolk color. Examples of carotenoid-rich feed ingredients that have a color impact on eggs yolks when fed to hens include seaweed meal, alfalfa meal, flower petal meal, dried sweet potatoes, dried carrots, and others. Color is important in egg yolks, but so is shape. Fresh eggs, when broken into a flat surface (like a frying pan), will normally have a yolk that is spherical in shape and that stands up high with little to no change in the shape.
Eggs Are Awesome
Eggs are a nutrient-dense food option that can contribute to the diet during all stages of life. Based on projections, the demand for eggs will only grow in years to come. Being able to raise a healthy flock of birds that can provide you with this nutritious food source at a minimal cost is one key way that you can take a do it yourself approach to your family’s nutrition.
Looking for a well-balanced and nutritious feed for your flock? Try Earth First Poultry Feed. Earth First products include all the calcium, vitamins and minerals that your birds need without the fillers they don’t. Best of all, Earth First is made right here in the Pacific Northwest! Learn more at www.earthfirstpoultry.com.