Free Range Eggs Versus Confined Grain Fed Chicken Eggs

  Free range eggs from pastured chickens are quite different in terms of their egg yolk color and egg shell strength. Chicken eggs are also much more nutritious when the poultry are able to run around outside eating plenty of bugs and grass versus eggs from confined grain fed chickens. 

That’s right, chickens are omnivores and they do appreciate a varied diet. 

Chickens Love Wheatgrass

My husband went to all the work to make a beautiful chicken coop with an open bottom, so we could move the chicken coop around on the fresh grass. This would allow the chickens to munch away in whatever area we moved that chicken coop to. Out of convenience though, we found it much easier to just let the poultry roam free in our yard. The chickens would use their coop to hideout, roost, and lay their eggs. 

Plus, when they were cooped up, I was not giving them enough greens, certainly not enough wheatgrass, that the chickens absolutely love. Chickens do love wheatgrass

Prior to our chickens being truly free range, and during the time that our chickens were staying pretty much cooped up, one of our neighbor’s 100% free range chickens and pastured chickens decided to lay a free range egg in our yard. It was a fun gift to receive. I thought, you know I bet this free range egg is going to have a much brighter orange yolk color than the eggs from my confined (at the time) and mostly grain fed chickens. 

free range eggWell, when I cracked that neighbor’s free range egg open, I had to chuckle a bit. There it was! This glorious bright orange egg yolk just beaming at me, saying look at me! Oh, and the yolk was so firm and plump and the egg shell was so nice, and strong. It did not easily crack like some of my confined grain fed chicken egg shells did. 

OK, I thought. Most people probably really cannot believe that the color of the egg yolk is not only dramatically affected by the diet of the chicken which is an omnivore, but the brighter that egg yolk in color, the more nutritious that egg is too. Pastured chickens running free, absorbing the rays from the sun, and eating a full spectrum omnivore diet, produce a more brightly colored orange egg yolk. 

That’s right, as the health of the chicken improves, so do their eggs and the resulting offspring that hatch out of those eggs of course. The baby chicks from good healthy chicken eggs would no doubt get a better start in life than being born from a pale yellow yolk in a weak shell. Awe, and us humans also benefit from this better nutrition. 

The color of the egg yolk is a barometer for me, not only does it tell me about the health and diet of the chicken, but it also tells me about the health of the chicken egg. I get a great deal of pleasure when I crack open an egg and I see this bright orange sunburst of a yolk inside. Life can really be sweet at times! 

Chickens Can be Fed Coloring Agents at Chicken Farms

Since consumers do prefer brighter orange colored yolks and do equate the bright orange color with better flavor and nutrition, coloring agents can be used in the feed of chickens to enhance the color of the yolk. 

Chickens raised in intensive commercial conditions are fed primarily grain which does not contribute to egg yolk pigmentation and produces a more pale yellow egg yolk. 

Free range chickens that get to select or scavenge around for their foods consume grass that contains carotenoids and thus a yolk with more coloring. This extra nutrition taken in from the chicken eating the fresh growing grass transfers through the chicken and into the egg. (This is kind of similar to humans. The healthier the diet of the mother and father during conception and then the healthier the mother’s diet during pregnancy, then the healthier and better off that child will be when it is born into this world.) 

You would preferably like the yolks to be bright orange in color from the chicken consuming a healthy well rounded diet – a diet consisting of plenty of nutritious grass, bugs and grains too. You would also like that mother hen to be running around outside to absorb the rays of the sun. A happy and healthier chicken equates to a healthier nutrient rich egg. 

Here is a book on how coloring agents can brighten up and make the color of egg yolks more orange, so they appear as egg yolks that are more desirable in color. 

Pastured Chickens Produce Healthier Eggs

egg comparison grass fed In this egg yolk picture to the left, you can see the comparison in color between the free range chicken egg yolk from a pastured chicken and the confined chicken egg yolk. The pale yellow egg yolk picture is from my confined chicken that was eating nearly 100% grains and was eating virtually no greens. Now you know too that there is a big visual difference between free range eggs from pastured chickens versus confined grain fed chicken eggs. 

Yes, my chickens really do enjoy being free range now. They eat plenty of insects and bugs, like worms, cockroaches, scorpions, ants, and of course the chlorophyll rich grass – a truly healthy feast for the chickens. Chickens are a great way to naturally keep your bug count down! 

  Once again, chickens are omnivores and do like variety in their diet. They do best with grain and plenty of access to grass, weeds and bugs. Yes, being pasture fed and receiving sunlight is very beneficial to your chickens and you will be rewarded with a far more nutritious and better tasting egg. 

Additionally, chickens are not finicky eaters and seem to like most foods. Lately, we have been giving them lots of yummy apples since we had a big apple harvest this year. Even with their true smorgasbord of good food choices, my chickens certainly do prefer their wheatgrass

I know regular lawn grass is not as nourishing as the wheatgrass. However, their egg yolks are a much brighter orange now that they are pasture fed and free to roam around and dine on our regular lawn grass and eat the many tasty treats nature provides right in our own backyard. 



When that sun starts to set, the chickens including my fearless rooster want to naturally go back to their cage and settle in safely for the night. And that’s a good thing! Oops, did I say safely… 



Coyotes Attack Pastured Poultry

coyoteSide note: Unfortunately, 8/15/2010 and again on 8/20/2010 a wild coyote(s) decided to attack our pastured chickens in the early morning hours. There could have been more than one coyote based on the appetite of the predator(s). 

It was a very hungry coyote(s) and our big brave rooster was actually the only pastured chicken not consumed by the ravenous coyote(s). 

My husband actually saw the coyote in our backyard at about 5:45 AM, ran outside, and the coyote scurried away in a frenzy. But unfortunately, the wild coyote(s) with its voracious appetite had already done its damage to our precious chickens that lay our “golden eggs.” 

Though our mighty rooster was not eaten, he didn’t make it either. Looks like he put up quite a struggle with the coyote(s). Being a rooster with a lot of testosterone, I am sure he put up a big fight until the end to try to protect the hens! 

With a saddened heart, I had to actually buy my eggs from the store since my hens were no longer with us… 

Eggs From Pastured Eggs Are More Satiating And Taste Delicious

What a difference in taste between farm fresh eggs from pastured poultry and store bought eggs. It had been years since I bought eggs in the store. My fresh free range eggs from pastured poultry had so much more depth, density, flavor, and richness in texture – not so airy or bland. And I am sure they had much more nutritional value. 

Evidently, the coyote(s) has attacked other chickens in the neighborhood. Maybe after the brutal coyote(s) gets taken care of, we’ll get baby chicks again. Then it will take 6 months of waiting before the hens will lay eggs. This process should be worth the wait. 

fresh eggsOne of my friends that heard about our loss of pastured chickens, was kind enough to bring me over a big beautiful and colorful basket of farm fresh chicken eggs from her “safe and sound” omnivore hens that get to dine freely in her backyard rich with insects and grass. 

These eggs will cut back on my having to buy store bought eggs for the next few weeks. 

The yolks from her pastured chicken eggs had the familiar bright orange color. When I made scrambled eggs with them, the orange hue from the yolks spilled out throughout my eggs like a watercolor work of art. They were so delicious with the familiar texture of eggs with healthy nutrient rich yolks. 

In closing on my Coyotes Attack Pastured Chickens side note, be aware of the potential predators for your grass fed and free range chickens. And if you need to buy eggs and if possible, buy farm fresh eggs from pastured chickens from your local farmer and celebrate the richness and nutritional value of those eggs. Long live the eggs from pastured chickens and keep an eye out for coyotes! 

Continue to read on to learn more about the increased nutritional value in eggs from pastured poultry. 

Nutritious Chlorophyll Makes Quick Cellular Changes

orange yolksEven Dr. Bernard Jensen, author of Health Magic Through Chlorophyll from Living Plant Life at Amazon spoke about the effect that green grass has on the health of the chickens and their eggs. Chlorophyll is highly nutritious

Dr. Bernard Jensen said, “I also recognized many other facets of chlorophyll through my studies, For instance, it had an enormous effect on egg yolks. When chickens were fed greens, they would have a nice dark orange egg yolk. To see this change! It all came in the matter of one or two days, showing that the effect on the body was taking place almost immediately. To think that the whole body was making a change. That egg had to be made from that whole body! An egg is no better than the chicken itself.” 

Wheatgrass Is Ultimate Green Grass Food

You know, when you really grasp how quickly the chickens positively and remarkably respond to consuming grass, you definitely become more intrigued with the concept of drinking wheatrass juice. Just like Dr. Charles R. Schnabel pointed out that egg production increased with consuming wheatgrass, could that be the case with humans too? Would wheatgrass be a welcome addition to a fertility diet? 

Well, knowing the full benefits of how important greens are with their spectacular chlorophyll to the health of animals and humans too, and knowing that the cereal grasses are hands down the most nutritious greens that are being shown to be quite the blood builders as these wheatgrass research studies show, I would definitely make a better effort to pull greens into your diet. Who would have thought this awe inspiring, humble, and profound grass that we walk upon without much thought, is playing such a significant and brilliant role in the health of the planet, animal kingdom and humans too. Nature’s grass is genius I say, pure genius! 

Free Range Eggs From Grass Fed Chickens Are Best

Nina Planck, author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why at Amazon also agrees that pastured chickens and their free range eggs are superior to those from hens raised indoors. I will also say they are more nutritious than confined outdoor and grain fed chickens. 

Planck says, “Pastured yolks are a rich yellow from the beta-carotene in plants. They also contain more monounsaturated fat, vitamin A and E, folic acid, lutein, and beta-carotene than indoor eggs. Pastured eggs are dramatically richer in omega-3 fats, which prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. 

“The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in pastured eggs is ideal (about 1:1), while an indoor egg has almost twenty times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats. The omega-3 fats come from grass as well as insects, grubs, and worms.” 

Monounsaturated fat
(mg per g of yolk)

Omega-3 fat
(mg per g of yolk)
Ratio of
Hens raised



Hens raised
on grass




Source: Artemis Simopoulos, “Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Health and Disease and in Growth and Development,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 54 (1991): p.445.

Planck says if you cannot find eggs from pastured chickens, barn-raised birds (not in cages) fed omega-3 are second best. Of course, Planck also recommends to not eat factory eggs, powdered eggs, liquid eggs, pasteurized eggs, egg substitutes, or any other kind of industrial egg product somebody invented in the lab. Go for the real food with greater nutrition: fresh eggs from happy chickens enjoying the good life eating insects and dining on fresh grass. 

Nutritious Egg Yolks – Not Egg Whites – Are Also Good Food Supplement For Babies

Some other positive news on the egg yolk front, not only are eggs with their beautiful yolks good for adults, but according to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats at Amazon, they are also a good food for babies. Fallon says, “A wise supplement for all babies – whether breast fed or bottle fed – is an egg yolk per day, beginning at four months. Egg yolk supplies cholesterol needed for mental development as well as important sulphur-containing amino acids. 

“Egg yolks from pasture-fed hens or hens raised on flax meal, fish meal or insects are also rich in the omega-3 long-chain fatty acids found in mother’s milk but which may be lacking in cow’s milk. These fatty acids are essential for the development of the brain. Parents who institute the practice of feeding egg yolk to baby will be rewarded with children who speak and take directions at an early age. The white, which contains difficult-to-digest proteins, should not be given before the age of one year. 

“Small amounts of grated, raw organic liver may be added to the egg yolk after six months. This imitates the practice of African mothers who chew liver before giving it to their infants as their first food. Liver is rich in iron, the one mineral that tends to be low in mother’s milk. 

“…A pinch of sea salt added to the yolk will also facilitate brain development. Salt is necessary to activate the formation of glial cells in the brain, the cells that make connections and help us think faster. 

“Unfortunately, salt is often left out of commercial baby food, in the mistaken belief that salt should be avoided. As you add other foods to baby’s diet, be sure that they are salted with unrefined sea salt.” 

I personally love the Celtic sea salt. You might also enjoy my Nourishing Traditions book review

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats at Amazon also contains more excellent and must read feeding babies traditional and nutritional dietary information. If you are looking to grow a healthier family, you truly must have this book in your possession. 

Greatest Nutritional Researcher Dr. Weston Price

It would be extremely wise of you to familiarize yourself with Dr. Weston Price’s nutritional research. A good place to start is reading his classic book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration at Amazon

If you would like to learn just how powerfully nourishing a traditional foods diet is that has nourished man for thousands of years, including the almighty egg, then please visit this Dr. Weston Price page and make sure to view the Dr. Weston Price nutritional diet video which shows the physical transformations and degeneration that occur when dietary needs are not met. 

Glorious Free Range Eggs With Bright Orange Yolk

All this free range eggs from pasture fed chickens talk is getting me hungry. Look at these free range egg yolks. Notice the bright and deep orange color of those yolks. I bought these chicken eggs back in the Midwest from a local farmer. 

bright eggsThe chickens were clearly very happy, 100% free range chickens and pastured chickens, running around freely and eating insects and nibbling away on grass.

Time for breakfast – yummy and nutritious free range eggs with bright orange yolks! It’s going to be a bright, bright, sun shining day….

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