Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Chatter: Health benefits of backyard chickens

I recently made a brief post about the benefits of chickens in the garden.  In that post I just listed some of the benefits that having chickens can have on the productivity of the garden.
In addition to the other wonderful attributes of chickens, the eggs laid by free range chickens are better for you than the caged eggs that can be bought at the grocery store.  Mother Earth News organized a study on the nutritional properties of free-range eggs in 2007.  The results from that study supported the results of many other studies--free range, or pasture raised, eggs are better for you.
They found that free-range chickens had 1/3 as much cholesterol and 1/3 as much fat as eggs from confined birds.  They also found that the amount of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, beta carotene, and omega 3s were all higher in the free-range birds.

For readers who doubt the accuracy of that study, a 2010 peer-reviewed and published study out of Penn State, titled 'Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens', described the following results:

"Compared to eggs of the caged hens, pastured hens' eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, 2.5-fold more total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids (P<0.0001). Vitamin A concentration was 38% higher (P<0.05) in the pastured hens' eggs than in the caged hens' eggs..."

Not surprisingly, having access to a healthy environment makes for healthy eggs.

All the more reason to appreciate our feathered ladies!

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