Our hens are Hyline Brown, their calm temperament, strong egg shells and consistent production make them a perfect choice for free range. A more detailed genetic break down is not as simple as in the past where we may have said Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire. The current strains are four to five way crosses starting back at the Great Grand Parents.
Our eggs are collected inside the barn rather than outside, which is much more practical and allows us to maintain maximum hygiene and freshness. The hens have shared access to nest boxes inside the barn and prefer to lay inside them rather than outside.
Our eggs are collected from the nest boxes on automated matted belts – which carefully convey them to a central room where they are packed on to cardboard trays by an automatic packer. It's very efficient and importantly results in much less breakages than if collected by hand.
No, Ecoeggs does not allow forced moult of the flocks.
Forced moulting is often achieved by withdrawal of feed for 7-14 days. During the moulting period, the hens stop egg production for a period of at least two weeks. The hens lose their feathers and cease to lay eggs in addition to losing weight. This has the effect of allowing the hen's reproductive tracts to regress and rejuvenate and extends productivity for older flocks. This temporary starving of the hens is seen as inhumane and is the main point of objection by critics and opponents of the practice.
Food, lighting and temperature is regulated in the hen house so the hens experience a comfortable more consistent environment year round when they are inside. Our hens receive between 15 and 16 hours total light per day, including natural and artificial. So they receive between 8 and 9 hours continuous darkness each night. Humane Choice considers 8 hours darkness to be healthy for the hens.
So even though our hens spend plenty of time outdoors we don't notice a significant difference in egg laying during Winter.
The high fences keep out predators during the day, and at night they are safe in the sheds. The hens are checked throughout day. We see the odd bird of prey but they have not been a problem. If the birds were left out at night foxes would probably be a concern, we don't generally see them but they would probably be around. We have been considering introducing Maremma dogs, which make highly skilled guardians for flocks.
No, the Omega 3 and 6 essential fats survive the gentler cooking process typically used for eggs, such as scrambling, poaching and soft boiling. However, gentle frying would see a small loss. Prolonged very high heat can cause fats and oils to oxidise, but you are unlikley to be able to achieve this with eggs with any of the usual cooking methods. Eggs are delicate and should be cooked gently for best results.
Yes, in a consumer sense the hen's feed is chemical free. The best way we can explain this is to state what is in the feed, we would not class any of these as chemicals in that sense. The ingredients include grains, protein concentrates including extra protein building blocks (amino acids), limestone, salt, sodium bicarbonate, enzymes, vitamins and trace minerals. In the technical sense, a chemist will probably argue that all matter is composed of chemical substances, compounds and mixtures - water, sugar, grass, everything ;-) See Wikipedia.
Being a natural product, eggs are subject to natural variations. Generally speaking the air sac starts small and grows larger as the egg ages and looses moisture. Sometimes an egg may appear not to have an air sac at all. This may be because it's a particularly fresh egg, or simply had not developed an air sac yet. Either way, just enjoy your eggs, there's absolutely nothing to be concerned about.
No. The colour of the yolk is influenced by the hen's diet and is not an indicator of freshness and has no significant influence on nutrition or flavour.
Specifically it is from plants rich in Xanthophylls, which are yellow pigments from the carotenoid group. Xanthophylls is literally Greek for yellow. Free range egg farmers cannot depend on pasture alone to deliver a consistent yolk colour and so most will add supplements to the feed. We include very low levels of natural plants extracts derived from Marigold petals and Paprika in their diet. This is not intended to create a false colour, but simply to achieve a more even result. These extracts contain the same natural Xanthophylls (lutein) that would normally colour the egg yolk.
But our hens are not machines, so there will always be variations in yolk colour that are beyond our control. What's important is that their diet is regularly monitored to achieve the best nutrition for the hens. And in turn you can enjoy nutritious healthy free range eggs.
Even the RSPCA ackknowledges that yolk colour does not affect the nutritional value of the egg, and is not influenced by the type of production system in which an egg is produced.
Adobe has now discontinued devleopment of Flash for mobile devices. We have been looking into providing a player suitable for mobile devices, unfortunately there is nothing available at this time that suits our unique requirements. Because we don't just have a simple fixed stream, an alternative implementation is a bit more complicated than it might seem. We hope to be able introduce the option sometime in the future.
We now have an version of the ChookCam for non-Flash devices. You won't be able to control the camera but you can see a live stream of static images every few seconds. We will continue to work on providing better support.
No, brown eggs are not dyed!
This one comes down to some basic science. The egg shell is composed mainly of calcium carbonate, which is white. If the hen lays brown eggs, the natural pigments of the brown egg are added to the shell in the last hours of shell formation. This layer is still calcium based, and alkaline. Vinegar is a weak acid. Acid dissolves alkaline. If you boil your eggs in water and add vinegar it can soften the colour layer. We did some experiments and found that about 5% vinegar in your pot is enough to make it happen. However, we could only replicate this if you attempt to rub it off almost straight away, if the boiled eggs were allowed to dry the colour was stable again. If the colour rubs off it is nothing to be concerned about, perhaps try using less vinegar.
For a more extreme experiment you can try soaking an egg in pure vinegar, and it will actually completely dissolve the shell.
Keep them refrigerated and only take them out about 30 minutes before you will use them. Eggs can absorb flavours and odours so keep them in their cartons, pointed end down. And avoid washing them until they're ready to be used.
Egg whites will keep up to two days in the fridge or can be frozen. Thaw when needed and make sure to use them the same day. Eggs yolks can be kept in refrigerated and covered with water for one to two days at most.
Our hens have a fantastic diet - a mixture of natural grains, cereals, oils, a bit of dirt, grass, stones, beetles, worms whatever they can find when they are roaming outside their sheds. It sounds odd, but hens naturally eat small stones and grit as it helps with their digestion.
The exact feed mix is a secret recipe but we can reveal that it contains Wheat, Sorghum, Soy Meal, Canola Meal, fine Limestone and grit, Mono Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Sodium Bicarb, Vitamins and Trace minerals, Amino Acids, Enzymes and most importantly our Omega oil blend.