AT Turning Ranch our chickens are raised on fresh green ORGANIC (not certified) PASTURE. Our chickens breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat an all natural diet of green grass, bugs, and a custom ORGANIC (not certified) mix feed ration that includes corn, soy, Flax seed, sea kelp, fish meal, diatomaceous earth and organic supplements. We soak whole wheat grains in whey and water to start sprouting. All Grains are Non-GMO. Organic Alfalfa, raw milk (and whey) from our home dairy, and organic food scraps add to their healthy diet. We will continue to improve our chicken's diet as time goes on.
Studies have shown that hens fed flax meal or fish meal rich in omega-3 fatty acids have equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3, a very beneficial balance. Eggs from hens allowed to eat bugs and graze on green pasture would also have this favorable balance. (Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions page 605)
We spend the time and money to raise our chickens in this manner to produce eggs that are flavorful and nutritious. Our chickens live in small colonies and are never crowded in confinement houses. They run free in a fenced pasture and return to the "house" to lay eggs, are protected in bad weather and at night. They are guarded by our Pyrenees Dog, Tara. For more on this see the blog at http://www.turningranch.com/Blog/tabid/62/EntryId/36/The-Swanky-Hen-House.aspx .
Question: Why is deep orange eggs yolks desirable??
This is a question we are often asked. The color of the yolk reveals what the hen has been eating. The carotenoids in the hens' feed make the yolks yellow. They can be found naturally in things like grass, vegetables and fruit. The greater the quantity of these substances in the hens' diet, the darker the color of the yolk. The hens eat yellow pigments in corn or grass, but if they have no access to green fodder (such as hens in cages or sheds) then the color is paler.
Our preference for orange egg yolks is simply better nutrition. Pale yolks are a sign of sick hens, worm infestation, or poor feed. Only healthy, well-nourished hens store carotenoids (preliminary forms of vitamin A) in their yolks. Bright orange yolks show that the hens are well supplied with essential carotenoids such as lutein or canthaxanthin. These protective substances are widely found in nature; they not only give the yolk its deep colour, but also prevent the oxidation and destruction of fragile, vital substances such as vitamins in the egg.
Not all carotenoids find their way into the yolk. The well-known beta-carotene, for example, is completely converted to vitamin A and used by the hen. Beta-carotene is believed to have no effect on yolk color.
Canthaxanthin, another carotenoid, is different: Birds only convert about 30 percent of it into vitamin A. The rest is stored in the egg yolk as a protective substance, causing the yolk to take on a golden-yellow hue.
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