Thoughts on 'designer eggs'?
We're novices at keeping hens - we have four Golden Comets, two 2-year-olds and two 1-year-olds. They've been laying every day all winter so we've had enough to sell some every week. These customers appreciate good quality free range eggs, compared to the ones that come from the city far away, and three more people are on a waiting list, so we're planning to get more chickens.
What got me thinking about 'designing' high quality eggs is the difference in egg quality between the first pair of hens, which were given to us as almost-adults, and the ones we raised from chicks. Those first two were fed almost entirely on layer mash, with some kitchen scraps. The ones we raised from chicks we gave plenty of oyster shells, flax seed, oat grass, etc. besides the pellets. Even though we've given all four the same diet, the older hens lay large eggs with very thin pale shells; the younger ones' eggs are beautiful - smaller, with very thick, glossy darker brown shells.
I read that hens are born carrying all the eggs they will ever lay; this led me to the idea that what they're fed from the beginning can make a difference in the quality of the eggs.
Then I read that feeding marigold flowers will make the yolks darker orange. Then there's the flax seed: the biggest egg producer on this island now offers 'Omega 3 eggs', and charges a premium for them, so I figure our eggs are Omega 3 too.
I tried giving fresh marigold flowers last summer but the chickens didn't like them, nor straight flax seed, so I'm going to try drying flowers this summer and mixing them into their feed along with the flax seed, oyster shell etc.
Today I came across the article, link below, that covers all these topics and more. I wouldn't try to manipulate the fat content of the chickens' diet. But adding ingredients to their food that increases the eggs' aesthetic qualities and healthgiving properties sounds like a great idea. The article says marigold flowers contribute lutein to the yolk which may help prevent macular degeneration - such possibilities are exciting.
So, designer eggs. ?
Here is a link that might be useful: designer eggs