Aug 12, 2013

Rich Orange Egg Yolks

This article was written by Katie Short, Farm Girl Foods.  Katie does an excellent job each week of writing an educating and informative snippet to the FarmShare participants.  I enjoyed this week's article and asked to reprint it in this space. - Julie

We’ve received some questions this week about egg yolks taking on a paler shade lately and thought everyone might appreciate an explainer on yolk color in our eggs.

The richness of the orange in the yolk is directly related to the richness of the green in the hens’ forages- more orange comes from more green. In this way, the yolks reflect the condition of the pastures in which the hens live. In spring, when the days are lengthening and there is plenty of rain, the sweetest, tenderest varieties of grass fill the fields. Among these, rye grass is the most prevalent and is delicious to all animals, including our ladies who can easily eat and digest it.

By this time in the year, the rye has long since matured and hangs around like sad old straw having been replaced by the hearty, heat tolerant grasses of high summer. These are durable and slower growing, and nobody but the grasshoppers like them.

While they are technically green, their toughness is only exceeded by the cutting serration of their long stiff leaves. This is fescue. There are other grasses that are less aggressive but equally unpalatable, none of which are especially relished by chickens, though they do seem to eat some anyway. What the   chickens are really digging right now is the August boom in insect life. They have become experts at hunting grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, even flies and eagerly hunt through the pasture with great efficiency snapping up any creepy crawlies they find. While bugs are uniquely rich in good fats, micro   minerals, and digestible protein, they are very much lacking in carotin (the green in grass) and do not contribute to yolk color.

Rest assured, there has been no change in management of the ladies, just a seasonal change in the environment of the field. We expect the lusher, more palatable forages of fall to bring with them a more lively colored egg.

-Katie Short
Farm Girl Foods

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