5

votes

why are my pastured eggs light?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 10, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Just bought my first dozen of pastured eggs.. the yolks are much lighter than the egglands best eggs that i normally buy..

it is the start of winter where I live...is it because there is less grass/bugs during this time of year therefore the lighter yolk?

i bought from a local place that i found on eatwild.com

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 05:42 PM

All commercially farmed pastured chickens will be fed chicken feed for the majority of their calories.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 03:58 PM

In UK and Europe the vast majority of commercial laying hens are slaughtered after 12 months of laying when they start to reach their first molt.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 03:47 PM

It is often true because most people expect pale yolks so big commercial producers don't usually add any color. But all indoor hens eggs could be orange if the producers wished to spend the money for it.

43873f3cea4f22f91653b0f5ec7ab9d9

(401)

on December 10, 2011
at 02:32 PM

This makes me feel a lot better. I had always heard that you could tell if an egg was pastured based on how orange the yolk was. The eggs I buy, which are claimed to be 100% pastured, often have light yolks (but are a little more orange in the spring). I noticed at my brother's house, however, that his Land-o-lakes (!) eggs have the most amazing orange yolks, year round. I guess it doesn't mean much.

36ba71ea8bc4f736f4113433fde572bd

(347)

on December 10, 2011
at 12:53 PM

My egg vendors @ the local farmer's market tell it's hard to get hens to lay in the winter, result of the short days mostly. One of the farmers just stops selling eggs in the winter. Another rolls out a wheeled lighting rig to lengthen the day and maintain egg production. I understand commercial producers keep the hens indoors and run the lights off of a clock. So anyway, right off the bat, anyone who's producing any volume of eggs in the winter is doing something "unnatural" (I don't mean that harshly) to keep the eggs flowing. (I still buy eggs in winter, I'm not too religious.)

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9 Answers

5
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 11:57 AM

Eggland's say on their website that they add lutein supplements to their chicken feed.

Lutein is a yellow colored carotenoid and will improve the yolk color. Their feed supplements may also include other carotenoids.

Depending on how far north you live there may not be much grass growing at this time of year for outdoor hens to eat.

The colour of egg yolks is easy to manipulate with carotenoid supplements in the chickens feed. There are guides available showing you how to add different ratios of colored caroteniods to chicken feed to get whatever colour you want in your egg yolks.

http://www.christa.bg/files/Catalogue/105.pdf

They even provide a color fan to help you achieve a consistent color.

why-are-my-pastured-eggs-light?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 03:47 PM

It is often true because most people expect pale yolks so big commercial producers don't usually add any color. But all indoor hens eggs could be orange if the producers wished to spend the money for it.

43873f3cea4f22f91653b0f5ec7ab9d9

(401)

on December 10, 2011
at 02:32 PM

This makes me feel a lot better. I had always heard that you could tell if an egg was pastured based on how orange the yolk was. The eggs I buy, which are claimed to be 100% pastured, often have light yolks (but are a little more orange in the spring). I noticed at my brother's house, however, that his Land-o-lakes (!) eggs have the most amazing orange yolks, year round. I guess it doesn't mean much.

2
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on December 10, 2011
at 03:39 PM

I have a flock of ten laying hens, and the color of the yolks definitely changes throughout the year based on what is available for foraging. My older hens molt and rarely lay all winter, but my newer hens who hatched this past spring have slowed down a bit, but we still are getting a few eggs a day without artificially introducing a timed light (supplementing to create twelve hours of light will keep them laying year round). So the eggs we collect now have lighter yolks than our spring eggs.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 03:58 PM

In UK and Europe the vast majority of commercial laying hens are slaughtered after 12 months of laying when they start to reach their first molt.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on December 10, 2011
at 03:25 PM

Diet is important for egg color and quality. As Matthew points out, feeding certain phytochemicals will positively affect egg yolk color.

You also need to realise that chickens (and most all livestock in general!) laying in fall and winter aren't going to be getting much their nutrition from pasture, and will require supplemental feed (i.e. a grain ration).

0
7703985af491af3d0ecd8f68c6e4ca64

on December 11, 2011
at 01:59 AM

Rhode Island Reds, Black Stars, Isa Browns, and Red Stars all lay daily without the addition of artificial light - at least mine do in central Indiana. During the winter there is nothing for the chickens to eat if they are pastured, so I feed them exclusively mixed hay and alfalfa hay from my own pasture.

If someone is selling pastured eggs in the winter, they're probably doing the same as me.

FYI, the reason for the different breeds is since they are free range, cage free, pastured, I can tell at a glance how old each hen is. My hens stay with me 2 years and I hatch out new stock every 6 months in the order listed above.

0
38e79d63db73caca2af6db8f21f1f354

(25)

on December 10, 2011
at 09:03 PM

so, is it just better to wait until spring to buy pastured eggs? i bought 2 dozen and the lady never said anything about having limited quantities in the winter..it does get dark here rather early...4:30/5pm..makes me wonder if they are using some sort of artificial light.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on December 10, 2011
at 05:05 PM

I think that generally, but not always, pastured eggs have a darker yolk color. More importantly though, the yolk should be firm and stand up, when you crack the egg into a pan for example, the yolk should be almost a half-sphere rather than a flattened blob. The yolk should hold together well and not be punctured easily, and if you separate them, the white and yolk should separate readily. Also, generally, pastured eggs are smaller with a lower ratio of white to yolk than the huge supermarket eggs.

The yolk should taste very creamy and eggy. This is subjective, since any yolk tastes creamy, but you should be able to taste the difference, I find pastured eggs are to supermarket eggs as cream is to half and half.

I agree with other posters that they can probably fake the yolk color somehow, but they can't fake these other things. Also, sadly, not all pastured eggs are really better. I bought pastured eggs from a local farm for a while, and later learned that the chickens were fed standard chicken feed with a little bit of extra soy added, and "no animal products or by-products". I am not sure if that means no bugs, or what, but I'd actually prefer that the chickens ate an omnivorous diet, since that is their natural diet, and I think it produces better eggs.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 10, 2011
at 05:42 PM

All commercially farmed pastured chickens will be fed chicken feed for the majority of their calories.

0
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 10, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I am old enough to remember when there was a huge difference in color of the yolks depending on the time of the year. In summer, the yolks were very bright, but in January, a boiled egg would yield a green yolk.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 10, 2011
at 03:18 PM

If the hens are fed greens the yolks get brighter yellow. In the winter they could get supplemented with veggie trimmings and that would help. Guess that is harder to do on a large scale.

0
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on December 10, 2011
at 12:40 PM

According to Barb, the poultry lady at the farm market, early spring is the best time for bugs and grass, and therefore the best eggs. I'd guess that your theory is correct.

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