Written by Jennifer Poindexter
I had never had a farm fresh egg until I actually raised chickens for myself. You may be thinking it is crazy to get chickens without at least testing their product first.
I mean, what if the eggs were different from store bought and in a bad way? What if I didn’t like them at all?
Well, I guess I would’ve lived and learned. Which is exactly what I did, surprisingly enough. Farm fresh eggs are very delicious, but I’ve learned a lot about the differences between those my chickens lay and those you find at the store.
Fresh Eggs vs Store Bought
Here are the differences between farm fresh eggs and store bought eggs:
1. Free Range Eggs
Let’s begin this discussion by explaining what each type of egg actually means. Free range eggs are eggs produced by hens that are set outside of any cage and allowed to naturally forage for their food.
Now, they may be given supplemental food to make sure that they are consuming enough food, but for the most part, these hens are allowed to roam, forage, scratch, and peck the ground. This is a great thing for many reasons.
First, you don’t have a bunch of hens constantly living in nasty living conditions. If the hens are allowed out to free range, then they are only cooped up at night where they roost.
So even if they poop in their coop, they aren’t living in it for days on end.
Second, they are allowed to be birds. Chickens are meant to peck and scratch the ground. They are meant to forage for their food. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t know how to do it, naturally.
So because they have these qualities instilled in them at birth, you know that allowing them to carry out these behaviors is what is natural for them. Which means their eggs will be produced like they were naturally designed to do. That is great because you want to consume natural foods if at all possible.
Finally, these birds are most likely happy. Happy birds lay more eggs and better quality eggs. The happier the hen, the better quality of food you are consuming.
2. Cage Free Eggs
Cage-free eggs is a tricky term that I’m not very fond of. I’m going to be upfront with you. I have friends that run chicken houses. I know that they are a lot of work. I also know that these people use this as a means to provide for their families.
So I’m not knocking people that run chicken houses for a living.
But I will say this, cage free is not free range. In most chicken houses in our areas, the chickens are not kept in cages.
Instead, they are inside large hoop-shaped chicken coops with concrete floors, automatic feeders and waterers, and lots of high roosts and nesting boxes. The people that run them work themselves to the bone, but there are just so many chickens in these chicken houses.
Usually, they have a hired hand that is responsible for making sure that the feeders are constantly working, the waterers are constantly working, and that the birds that die of disease or heat exhaustion are pulled out daily.
Obviously, cage free bird does not experience anywhere near the same quality of life as a free-range bird.
Again, I’m sharing the experiences I’ve seen in my area. This may not be true for every chicken house in the country.
Also, there will be some nutritional differences of these eggs as well. These birds will most likely not eat anything natural. I have a friend whose family runs chicken houses for a living. They are given the food that the companies they have contracts with want them fed.
Obviously, this will be pelleted food and nothing natural and green. Nor will this include bugs of any sort.
3. Regular Store-Bought Eggs
Regular store bought eggs are usually laid by birds that are kept in small cages or the cage-free chicken houses. They are fed pelleted foods, live in extremely hot and crowded conditions, and do not live a natural lifestyle at all.
Again, the quality of the egg will suffer because of the nutrition and health of the birds.
4. You Are What You Eat
I’ve led up to this in my previous points, but we are what we eat, and our birds are what they eat. A huge difference between free range and store-bought eggs is the quality of the nutrients in the eggs because of the quality of the nutrients going into the chickens.
So if your birds are doing what they naturally do, which is pecking the ground, foraging for food, eating lots of leafy greens, and getting natural proteins from bugs, then you are probably going to have a better tasting egg.
Whereas a store-bought egg is usually produced by a chicken that is fed strictly pelleted foods which will not produce the same quality of egg, in my opinion.
5. Flavor of Fresh Eggs vs Store Bought
If you ask anyone who eats farm fresh eggs, they’ll tell you that the taste is not the same. I think farm fresh eggs have a much richer flavor.
Also, you’ll notice that the yolks are also a deeper yellow color. They look richer and healthier, but they taste that way too.
So if you are looking for a richer tasting egg, then you definitely need to shop with your local farmers or purchase a few hens for yourself.
6. Shelf Life of Fresh Eggs vs Store Bought
You may assume that all eggs have as short of a shelf life as what you are accustomed to running into at the grocery store.
In reality, most store purchased eggs were laid around 3 days before they made it to the store.
Then it depends on how fast the store gets them to the floor for you to buy as far as how old they are once they are on the shelf.
Finally, eggs can stay on a grocery shelf for around 30 days. So you really have no idea how fresh the eggs you are buying from the store actually are.
But when you purchase local eggs or raise your own chickens, then you can know how fresh the eggs are that you are eating.
7. Food Safety
Food safety is a huge reason to purchase eggs locally instead of from grocery stores. Salmonella was a huge concern not so long when there was a massive outbreak in some of the nation’s largest egg suppliers’ chicken houses.
Though chickens who have Salmonella don’t always show signs and some can simply be a carrier of the disease, which definitely won’t show any signs of the disease, it has been said that the living conditions of the chickens can cause this disease to spread amongst a flock.
So if you buy locally, the birds are free ranged and have healthy living conditions, then you greatly reduce your risk of contracting Salmonella. This is great news!
Also, you can physically go and see the living conditions of the birds, if you ask politely, so you can see where your food is actually coming from. This is one of the main reasons I love raising my own chickens.
I love the fact that I can interact with them daily. I know what they consume, their living conditions, I get to see them free ranging throughout my yard and pastures, and I have peace about what we are eating because I know I’ve done all I can to keep my birds happy and healthy.
Which in turn, should produce healthier food for myself and my family. That is all we can do at the end of the day, right?
8. Nutritional Value of Fresh Eggs vs Store Bought
Would you believe that the nutritional value of farm fresh eggs is different from those in the store?
Well, there is. You will find that farm fresh eggs have less of the bad stuff in them, like cholesterol and saturated fat.
Yet, they have more of the good stuff, like omega-3’s and Vitamins A, D, and E. It makes sense when you stop and think about it though.
If you consume eggs from a free range chicken that has eaten a healthy more natural diet and been given the opportunity to roam and exercise, then the bird is healthier and should pass that on to their eggs.
But if you purchase eggs that have been produced by hens that have little room to exercise and eat a processed diet, then that will show up in their eggs.
9. Overall Health of the Bird
Bottom line, if you care about your health, then you should begin to be more aware of where your food is actually coming from.
Until a few years ago, I kept blindly going to the grocery store. It was what I had always done so why question it?
Then I heard someone say, why would you put something in your body that you don’t even know where it came from, how it was raised, or what’s in it? I couldn’t answer that question. I thought, “Wow! I just blindly keep fueling my body with foods I don’t know anything about…actually. I only know what I’ve been told.”
So then I began researching some and saw the difference between the picture that was being painted on my egg cartons of chicken eggs that were produced ‘cage free’ and then the actual living conditions of the chickens that were producing these ‘cage free’ eggs. They were nowhere near the same.
In actuality, some of these birds are really mistreated. They have their beaks clipped, are forced to live in miserable conditions, are fed foods I certainly wouldn’t feed my own flock and are starved in order to induce molting.
Then I began raising my own chickens and saw how chickens were supposed to act, what they really needed, and what made chickens happy layers. I knew then that I had no business putting store-bought eggs into mine or my family’s bodies anymore. It just wasn’t natural.
Plus, I think it is wrong to treat any living creature in an inhumane fashion. Especially in the name of meeting production.
Again, I realize some of the smaller chicken house owners raise these birds to support their families, but I’ve also never personally met a chicken house owner in my area that starved the birds. I just know the living conditions are crowded, hot, and are unnatural for chickens to be living in.
So I hope this has helped you realize the difference between purchasing local free range eggs in comparison to purchasing store-bought eggs. This is a personal choice, and we are in no way trying to pressure you.
But I do think it is fair to share what we know and have learned through our own personal decisions to help you make a more informed decision.