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Things You Didn't Know About Farm Fresh Eggs

Things You Didn't Know About Farm Fresh Eggs

Let me start out by saying that if you raise chickens, this post probably isn’t for you. A few days ago, I saw an Instagram post from a fellow chicken keeper where she had found a large clutch of eggs (like dozens of them) in the loft of her chicken coop.

For those of us who raise chickens we all had a good laugh and a little cringe because we've all been there. Chickens! They keep you on your toes! The video showed the process that was used to remove the eggs, and she surprising received a lot of negative comments about her actions. For me, this brought to the forefront how many people don’t know or understand where their food comes from and how misinformed the general public is about the food they eat, particularly eggs. Which inspired me to write down a few things that you might not know about farm fresh eggs.

No Chicks Were Harmed in the Making of Your Breakfast

A healthy, mature hen lays 3-6 eggs per week, or 250-350 eggs per year, depending on their breed. They lay these eggs whether there is a rooster present or not. Most backyard coops, hobby farms, and homesteaders do not keep roosters; factory farms never have a rooster in with their laying hens. Unless there is a rooster in with the hens, there is no possibility that the egg will ever be fertilized. 

If a rooster is present, not every egg gets fertilized. For the eggs that get fertilized, unless the hen decides to brood or sit on and tend to the egg (or it gets put in an incubator), the egg will still never result in a chick. 

Farm Fresh Eggs Don’t Require Refrigeration

When the hen lays an egg, her body produces a coating called “bloom.”  An eggshell contains as many as 17,000 pores that are designed to allow air and moisture to pass through. The bloom is the last layer of the shell to be formed, and its purpose is to seal the pores of the eggshell. This protective coating blocks bacteria from entering the egg, and as long as the egg is left unwashed, it allows the egg to stay fresher longer and negates the need for refrigeration. 

Interestingly, the US is one of the only countries with laws about washing “commercial” eggs for “food safety.” Other countries leave eggs unwashed and the bloom intact. Outside the US, one of the primary methods for maintaining food safety is requiring eggs to be packed and sold near where they are laid… Just let that sink in for a minute. 

Unwashed Eggs Stay Fresher, Longer

Now that we’ve learned about the bloom, it’s time to discuss the advantage of leaving eggs unwashed. For starters, unwashed eggs can be kept on the counter for around two weeks or in the refrigerator for three months or more. 

Washed eggs can last in the fridge for up to 2 months, but they won’t taste as fresh as an unwashed egg of the same age. It’s important to note that once an egg has been washed, the bloom is no longer intact, and therefore, for food safety, washed eggs must be refrigerated. 

Why do Farm Eggs Have Dark Yokes?

It’s not unlikely to find that farm fresh eggs have dark, vibrant yellow egg yolks, but you may be wondering why. The color of the yoke can indicate a hen's diet, as well as its health. Commercial production chickens tend to be fed a largely wheat-based diet, which results in a pale yellow yoke and a potentially less-than-healthy chicken. (Picture yourself eating nothing but McDonalds) 

On the other hand, fresh farm eggs, particularly from pasture-raised or free-range chickens, tend to have dark yellow yokes. This is because the hen's diet is high in carotenoids, a pigment found naturally in plants.

Why are Farm Fresh Eggs Different Colors?

Are you curious why eggs from the farmstand or farmer's market are different colors? While most eggs you see at the grocery store are white or brown, chicken eggs also come in a range of colors like cream, pink, blue, and green. 

The hen’s breed usually determines egg colors. Most production farms use Leghorn chickens, which lay white eggs, while hobby farms, homesteads, and backyard chicken keepers tend to select a variety of birds. 

Interestingly enough, all eggs start out white. Egg color or pigment is deposited on the shell as the eggs travel through the hen's oviduct. Another fun fact is that egg color does not affect the flavor or nutritional value of the egg. 

What do All the Labels on Eggs Mean?

It’s easy to look at a carton of eggs and see comforting things like “cage-free,”  “free range,” or “pasture-raised” and think that you are getting quality eggs from happy hens. But let’s break down what some of these mighty marketing slogans mean:

Cage Free

This does not mean that the chickens live a life free to roam. Most factory farms that are “cage-free” keep hundreds, sometimes thousands of birds, in large barns with no access to the outside world. To be certified as “cage-free,” a production farm is required to provide at least one and a half square feet of space per bird. Since the birds don’t have access to sunlight, there are also requirements for periods of light and darkness to mimic nature. 

Free Range 

This one sounds nice. It evokes images of chickens wandering through fields and living their best little chicken lives. However, according to USDA standards, all a farm needs to put this label on their eggs is to provide “some” outdoor access to at least two square feet of space per bird. 


This one, for me, is one of the worst. It banks on you not knowing about your food. Chickens are not vegetarians! They are omnivores. A healthy chicken diet should consist of bugs, grubs, worms, and, of course, plants and grains. With a genuinely free-range bird, it can also mean mice, frogs, and even snakes. For a farm to ensure that their chickens are vegetarian-fed, they must be raised in an environment without access to fresh air or even dirt of any kind because a chicken will not hesitate to snatch a bug out of the air or a worm out of the ground. Not only are these chickens raised in deplorable conditions, but they are also fed a diet that is unnatural for them, resulting in an egg of potentially poor quality. 

Wrapping up Your Egg-ucation

Sorry, but if you know me, then you know there is no way I was going to manage this article without an egg pun. Before we started raising chickens, I’m pretty sure that the only thing I knew for certain was that store eggs were white, and farm eggs were brown. Over the last few years of chicken keeping, we’ve learned all kinds of fun new things. However, I think the most valuable thing we’ve learned on our homesteading journey was how important it is to know and understand where our food comes from. 

If you learned something new about farm fresh eggs, tell us all about it in the comments below. And as always, until next time:

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Things You Didn't Know About Farm Fresh Eggs

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