What I’ve Learned About Free-Range Eggs

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

I’ve learned how much healthier free-range eggs are. But I’ve learned so much more about them too. Read all the benefits of raising your own backyard flock of free-ranging chickens.

I've learned how much healthier free-range eggs are - but I've learned so much more about them too. Read all the benefits. #TexasHomesteader

Enjoying Freshly-Laid Eggs

We love eggs and eat them often. Some of our favorite ways:

How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

RancherMan & I are slowly learning what veteran chicken-raisers have known all along about raising our own chickens. And about fresh free-range eggs.

I learned that it took our Ideal 236 breed chicks 21 weeks to be old enough to produce their first egg.

Ideal 236 chickens at 21 weeks old begin laying eggs. #TexasHomesteader

And I also learned that chickens don’t just lay eggs in the morning. In fact their egg-laying time isn’t even a balanced 24-hour time span. (or maybe they just like to sleep in from time to time – who knows?? LOL)

But I learned even more about the eggs themselves. For instance I didn’t know:

How To Tell What Color Eggs My Chicken Will Lay?

Although there’s no difference in taste or nutrition whether white shell or colored shell, I was very surprised to learn that the color of the shell was dictated by the color of the chicken’s ear lobe. I’ll admit I didn’t even know chickens HAD ear lobes!

Chickens with white lobes usually produce white eggs and chickens with red lobes usually produce brown eggs.

Note in the first picture above that I have 2 brown eggs and one white. Sure enough, we had three Ideal 236 chickens, two with red lobes and one with white.  Fascinating!

The color of a chicken's ear lobe gives a hint as to what color egg they will lay. I've learned how much healthier free-range eggs are - but I've learned so much more about them too. Read all the benefits. #TexasHomesteader

Are Free-Range Eggs Healthier?

Free-range eggs are actually much more healthy than their commercial counterparts according to an article in Mother Earth News.

The article stated that pastured poultry lay more nutritious eggs which contain less of the bad stuff:

      • 1/3 less cholesterol
      • 1/4 less saturated fat

Not only that but free-range also contain much more of the GOOD stuff.

      • 2/3 more vitamin A
      • Twice as much omega 3 fatty acids
      • 3 times the vitamin E
      • A whopping 7 times more beta carotene
      • 4-6 times more vitamin D

Difference In Look & Taste Of Free-Range Chicken Eggs

Free-range eggs look and taste distinctively different than store-bought eggs. Can you tell in the photo below which of the 3 eggs are from our free-ranging hens and which is a store-bought egg?

I've learned how much healthier free-range eggs are - but I've learned so much more about them too. Read all the benefits. #TexasHomesteader

Free-range eggs typically have a much darker yolk. It’s said that’s due to their healthier natural diet that includes plenty of greens and the protein of bugs & such.

And the difference in taste of a free-range egg vs a store-bought egg is comparable to the difference in taste of a garden tomato vs a store-bought tomato. ‘Nuff said!

Do You Need To Wash Your Backyard Chicken Eggs?

After the chicken lays the egg its shell is protected by a coating of an invisible substance called ‘bloom’. This magical protection seals the egg from outside bacteria, but even a tiny bit of moisture will remove it.

It’s said that as long as you don’t wash the egg, it doesn’t even need to be refrigerated. It makes sense – when the chicken lays the egg it goes into a state of suspended animation as she lays a new egg in her nest every day.

After several days the hen goes broody & sits on the eggs. Obviously her eggs don’t rot in the nest. All fertilized eggs will then proceed to grow into baby chicks.

Ideal 236 baby chicks chickens. #TexasHomesteader

Because we remove the eggs each day there’s no opportunity for an accumulation of eggs but it’s fascinating how nature works!

It’s said that store-bought eggs MUST be kept refrigerated because the commercial eggs have been washed, therefore removing the bloom.

But free-range eggs don’t even have to be refrigerated as long as you don’t wash them. For this reason it’s helpful to keep the nesting box clean of any droppings so the eggs will stay clean.

But even if there is a spot of mud or droppings on the egg when I retrieve it, I’ll only wipe it with a dry cloth when I bring it into the house. Any  washing of the egg will have to hold off until I’m actually ready to use it.

There are many who say free-range eggs will stay fresh for weeks without refrigeration because of the bloom. Supposedly in many countries fresh eggs are never refrigerated.

But to be honest, I still put my chicken’s eggs in the refrigerator because I just can’t wrap my head around NOT refrigerating them. 

Free-Range chickens lay healthier eggs. #TexasHomesteader

Raising Chickens Every Year

We enjoyed our chickens so much last year that we decided to raise chickens every year. We bought young pullets and are already seeing the first small eggs coming from them.

I’ll keep RancherMan supplied in egg salad for sandwiches and of course we’ll offer to bring the deviled eggs to any luncheon we’re invited to.

I’ll also begin freezing the eggs again to preserve the overage. And if they produce well enough I might sell my extra eggs to others. It will not really be much profit, but I’m looking for just enough to cover some of the chicken’s expenses.

We love having chickens, they’re so interesting to watch. And they forage for bugs and scorpions around the house – gotta love that. Oh, and then there’s those fresh eggs to enjoy too…


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26 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned About Free-Range Eggs

  1. JoAnna

    I wish I lived near enough to you to only pay $3 a dozen for free range, local eggs! Around here, it’s $5 per dozen!!

    I soooooo want chickens of my own. I’m working on it!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We really love raising our chickens JoAnna. I’m working on preserving them right now – they’re laying more than we can (or should) eat fresh! ~TxH~

  2. Judith C

    Thanks for answering my question. Aren’t pullet eggs smaller and how long does it take for them to begin laying large eggs?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I think different breeds have different sized eggs Judith. I know our young pullets laid smaller eggs at first (and some with soft shells) but as they matured their eggs were larger and hard shelled – it only took a few short weeks. Some of the hens always laid smaller eggs though – I suppose it was the mixture of their breed. ~TxH~

  3. Judith C

    Why don’t you keep your chickens during the colder months? Is it just an upkeep thing? Do you have a hen house or do they just really roam free and fend for themselves? The chickens in Key West are truly free range as in they have no owners, they are feral like the 6 toed cats that also roam the island.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Judith, we don’t have a chicken run, the hens are let out of their secured coop in the morning & locked back in safe & sound at night. But in the winter the predators food source can be slim pickins, making our hens the most likely source of their meals until they wipe out our entire flock. It’s just easier for us to sell them in the fall to other chicken raisers as young layers and buy pullets the next spring & start again. ~TxH~

  4. LindaG

    Stick a sign out front and people will stop.
    Around here, many of the casual sellers sell their eggs for $2.00 a dozen. I’ve bought from four or five different places that sell for that.
    Anyplace that has gone so far as to pay to be certified organic, and free range, sells them for $6.00 a dozen.
    Farmers markets sell anywhere in that range of two to six dollars a dozen.
    Congratulations, good luck and have a blessed weekend!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m pretty excited that our small town is opening up a farmer’s market in a few weeks, it could very well be a great place to sell my extra eggs! ~TxH~

  5. Joyce @ It's Your Life

    I agree with everything said about selling and refrigerating eggs. While I have been to your blog many times just want to let you know I followed you here from the Homeacre hop.

  6. S.L. Payne

    So interesting! I think it would be so fun to raise chickens, but I’m not sure our association would be very fond of it since we live in suburbia. The more I hear about it though, the more I’m impressed with how much healthier they are. We might be trying this soon if our neighborhood rules allow it! Thanks so much for sharing!
    -Sara, uncommongrace.net

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      More & more homeowners associations are allowing small backyard flocks, S.L. Although they often limit the number of hens allowed and whether or not you can own a rooster (for the noise issue) but if a hen lays an egg each day you don’t really need very many to completely supply your family with all the fresh eggs they need. If your homeowners association allows it I’d highly recommend giving it a go, they’re incredibly fun to raise. ~TxH~

  7. Just Plain Marie

    We don’t have a fridge, but even when we did, I didn’t refrigerate eggs. I think North America is the only place where they’re refrigerated.

    If you have heritage breed chickens, consider getting a rooster and letting your hens raise some chicks. It gives you chicken meat and replacement hens, essentially for free. And it’s great fun. 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Perhaps we will try the rooster thing some day, for now we only raise hens from about April to October and then we sell them as young layers, buying again the following year. I’m not sure we keep them long enough to be able to reap the benefits of a rooster at this time. Hopefully some day we’ll be able to raise them year round. ~TxH~

  8. Chrystal @ YUM eating

    When I first met my husband he had chickens that had belonged to his ex father-in-law. My husband had raised these chickens for years. About a year after I moved in, the ex FIL took the chickens away and sold them. I was sad because I felt these wonderful pets we had grown to love and cherish were just being sold for food and no longer going to be used to lay eggs. I know, that is how it goes sometimes. I was also sad to have my unlimited egg supply go bye-bye. I’m looking forward to the day we find a home of our own (sell this one) complete with chickens.

  9. janetpesaturo

    This is really a very nice summary. I found it via From the Farm blog hop. I will share this one on my FB page, because it is extremely useful info for people considering chickens. Thanks!

  10. Wendy

    Thank you for your info thinking about getting our own chickens. How do you freeze eggs?

  11. Lana

    When our daughter and SIL lived in China they picked out their eggs from a huge piled display at the store and put them into plastic bags just like you would produce! They never refrigerated their eggs over there because their fridge was tiny and the space had to be saved for other foods. They just put them in a basket on the counter.

  12. daisy

    We get our eggs direct from the farmer and we don’t refrigerate them. They are SO much tastier than any storebought eggs, even more than eggs I’ve gotten from other farmers. We scored big time with this one!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I agree Daisy, SO much tastier than store-bought eggs. Glad you scored with your current fresh egg provider. ~TxH~

  13. ColleenB.~Texas

    Selling eggs is an easy way to make a little extra cash. Once the word gets out that you are selling farm, fresh eggs, there won’t be any problem finding customers and earning your own little bit of “egg money.”

    If it where me, I would charge $3 a dozen or $4 for an 18-pack.
    In order to give my customers the best possible eggs, Feed the chickens organic feed and give them access to as much greens and grubs that they can eat. The chickens are healthier, and the eggs will taste better.
    To produce quality eggs, your hens will need a varied diet of commercial chicken feed, high-calcium oyster shells, grit, greens, bugs and the occasional dairy product, such as milk, which will help strengthen the eggs’ shells. These ingredients help to produce nutrient-dense eggs with strong shells, dark yolks and great taste.
    Can also feed chickens garden leftovers, like leftover zucchini, etc.
    Cut feed costs by giving them garden scraps and letting them free-feed on bugs and greens in the pasture yard.
    To be productive, your hens will need a cozy place to call home. Outfit their coop with the necessary nest box filled with egg-catching nesting material, a roost for snoozing, plenty of fresh water, a moderate temperature of between 45 and 80 degrees F, and the right amount of light to trigger egg production.
    chickens require at least 14 hours of sunlight to lay—and, when the hours of daylight fall below that magic number in the winter months, your inventory may reduce to near-zero until the spring. A full-spectrum bulb can help keep production numbers strong year-round.

    You may wish to stamp your name and phone number on the package so customers know who to call when they run out of eggs. Have regular customers bring back their cartons .

    Tips for selling your eggs:
    Start out first with a few friends and neighbors and work up from that by…………
    setting a “farm-fresh eggs” sign in front of your farm
    •building a set client list and delivering eggs to them regularly (figure in cost if you deliver)
    •working at a stand at your local farmers’ market
    •selling through locally owned grocery stores or markets

    If I lived closer I would be your first customer.
    Best of luck to you on your ‘egg money’ business :}

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That is SO AWESOME Colleen, what a great comment you’ve shared with so much helpful information! Man I’m lucky to have so many wonderful commenters. Thank you! Once the hens start laying a little more regularly I’ll start putting the word out to get some potential customers. If I still worked in an office I know I’d have more interest than I could accommodate but living & working at the ranch keeps us from having those contacts anymore. (not that I mind at all – LOL!) ~TxH~

  14. Homestead Dad

    I agree with Mary, tell friends and relatives that you have extra eggs available for sale. We don’t even have our chickens back yet and I already know I will be able to sell the extras for friends, family, and my wife’s co-workers. Have fun.

  15. Mary P

    To sell your eggs, just let people know you have them available. If anyone doubts the benefits of fresh eggs, maybe give them the first dozen free. Also be sure to ask them to save and return the egg cartons. In my experience, you won’t have any problem is finding buyers.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That’s good to know Mary, thanks for your advice. I’m seeing the going rate is $3/dozen, is that about right? ~TxH~


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