Egg yolk colour - organic versus backyard

I tend to believe my chooks lay the best eggs in the universe, but to tell the truth all eggs fairly much taste the same. The only point of difference is generally the colour and of course some important nutrients which you don't taste either.

With the Autumn egg drought starting to bite, I now only have one active layer. She was a mother-hen for a few months so she seems to be having a later cycle to make up.

So I bought myself some organic eggs from a major supermarket and decided to do a colour-duel. The results are quite dramatic:

Egg colours backyard vs organic title=

My little hardworking mother hen is represented by the results on the left.

So what is the difference?

Quite clearly, the backyard hen's egg yolk is yellow and the organic egg yolk is orange. Before whipping, the difference in colour is not very discernible, after whipping, the colour difference is quite remarkable, with the organic egg almost an orange/brown.  After cooking very thin, the backyard egg's colour is persistent and a strong yellow, while the organic egg is washed out in colour.

So what does it mean?

Naturally the commercial organic egg is from a commercial breed, probably an isa-brown that lays all year round. My backyard egg is from a small mongrel hen that lays far less. My mongrel hen gets a small amount of grain (barley or wheat), about 50gms daily if she can compete with the others. This is not enough to sustain her laying or energy needs, so she has to find other food, and that she does. My soils are very poor, and grass grows very slow, but my chooks pick off the tops. They get native weeping grass as well as cooch grass from my neighbours house. They scratch under trees, find grubs and occasionally frogs. I sometimes give them some Copra with dolomite and kelp meal to provide the minerals my soil is lacking. As I mentioned before, my chooks are underfed and probably underlay - hence my Autumn drought when they recover, moult and rebuild their reserves.

The organic eggs probably come from large farms with good grass and abundant grains, but I hope to find out more. I don't know which eggs are better nutritionally, however I suspect my chooks are eating more grass and bugs than the commercial farm hens, not because of the lack of grass in organic farms, but the abundant grain feeding provided - however I cannot think why this would make their yolks a darker orange, but might explain why the colour is less persistent when cooked thinly.

Are my backyard eggs better - yes of course, but that opinion is subject to much bias.

It turns out there is a simple scientific explanation for the orange pigment in commercial organic eggs:

Q: How does a yolk get its colour?
A: The colour of a yolk is determined by what a hen eats. Yellow/orange pigments called Carotenoids are then deposited in the yolk to give it its colour. At Pace Farm we only use 100% natural pigments from Marigold leaves, paprika and capsicum to ensure a bright healthy yolk.

I am wondering if the natural pigments being added to the diets of organic hens is more deception than service to the buyer. The buyer of organic eggs does want colour in the yolk to indicate the eggs come from hens that have not just eaten grains, but is this what the organic consumer really has in mind?

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