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I grok the ethical and environmental pros, but our food budget is killing us, I have to sacrifice somewhere.<br><br>
From a strict nutrition standpoint, is it worth the extra price to buy small farm eggs during the winter? It's 2' of snow out here in rural NH. My impression was that the thing about pastured eggs was the grass and bugs that the chickens ate. They cost $4/dozen instead of $1/dozen for the cheap battery eggs from Walmart. How much healthier are the small farm eggs if they're not going outside because of the cold?<br><br>
I'm thinking that if they aren't getting the cla or whatever right now that it's not worth the premium during these months? I was thinking of prioritizing milk over eggs because even hay fed raw milk is better than hay fed past'd milk, right? Or am I missing something about small farm eggs that should give it precedence? It's a daily protein source for us.
 

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I don't know the answer to your question, but it seems to me healthy eggs come from healthy chickens. Wal-Mart chickens aren't really very healthy ones. But, if for 3 months out of the year you switched, I think that is very reasonable. At least you still have eggs...just don't eat them raw. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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That seems steep for eggs. My small farm eggs are 2.45/doz. And I have a cousin who is getting eggs now and will sell me hers for $1/doz. Is there any way you can find a new source? Maybe a private source rather than a storebought source? I know from a taste standpoint winter eggs don't taste as good as summer eggs but certainly store bought eggs taste nasty compared to the farm eggs.
 

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From what I understand (and have seen at the egg farm) you cannot keep chickens inside. They love to be outside, cold or no. They run around the hillside as long as their door is open to the outside. The farmer says they WANT to be out there, even in the snow. Silly chickens, don't their little feet get cold?<br>
So, while their diet may be a little low on bugs right now, they are generally healthier, happier than their battery counterparts and happy, healthy chickens produce better eggs.<br>
BTW, I pay $3.50 for the jumbo-est eggs I've ever seen.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Pinky Tuscadero</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10266273"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Silly chickens, don't their little feet get cold?</div>
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I just had this idea of a bunch of knitted chicken booties for pastured chickens.. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Yes, look for a private chicken farmer. I pay $1.50/doz. and feel so lucky!
 

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I'm in CT and $4/dozen is all I could find here. I couldn't "taste" a difference or even see a difference, but I know they're healthier. Cage-free at the grocery store is $3.50/dozen but it doesn't say they're pastured, just cage-free and fed a "vegetarian" diet which means they're still in a barn or something and not outside, right? Since chickens aren't vegetarians. Of course it's also a 2.5 hour drive to get the pastured chicken eggs (so far I haven't found a closer source). So I can't do it. There's got to be people around here who have chickens. I just don't know how to find them.<br>
K
 

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if i were looking for eggs and had no real-life contacts, i would peruse the realmilk.org pages, and call the most local person. they are likely to know other farmers in your area, even if they aren't local enough to you for the trip. they are also likely to keep chickens . local harvest might also be of help.
 

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I can't believe how cheap some of you buy your eggs for!!! Cheapest eggs I can find are $4.00/dozen. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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About the whole vegetarian feed thing-<br>
Everyone knows chickens eat bugs and worms but I was completely surprised to find out recently from my chicken farmer that they will also eat lizards and frogs. Holy cow, I mean, holy chicken! I had no idea! That doesn't sound even remotely vegetarian to me. Frogs and lizards are really meaty! They are also quite cannibalistic and will eat other chickens who are injured or weak. Though that part seems to me to be part of them being around 1000 other chickens, which they would not be were they truly in the wild. Still, frogs and lizards! Chickens are most definitely not vegetarian!
 

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Well. I have chickens in the northeast, and unless it's freezing cold, they go out. Add to that the unseasonably warm weather this past week, and the rain, and my chickens have had a tremendous amount of bugs and worms. I also supplement with 100% organic feed. I charge $3/dozen for my eggs, and everyone tells me I should charge more. And I will at some point. $3 is really not enough for pastured, organic eggs. Organic feed is about 3 times the price of conventional. I also make food for my chickens...healthy food. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
My chickens do not mind the cold...they have choice whether to go out or not, and they even play in the snow. Now...some chickens, like Silkies, are dumb, and they will go out when they shouldn't, so you have to keep an eye on them. Some chickens have been known to freeze to death. If the ground is not totally frozen, they find things to eat. And they are happy to try, even. Chickens like to do chicken things...and sitting in their own waste and laying onto a conveyor belt, never playing in a dust bath isn't a chicken thing.<br><br>
So, if you can, I'd encourage folks to support their local pastured chicken supplier, even in winter, so that they can afford to continue to offer their superior product. Their chickens are still living healthy lives, even if their rations of sweet grasses are diminished.
 

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All of you would be truly frightened by what I pay for eggs! Pastured eggs from local farms... $8/dozen (for my ds)! And I mail order pastured duck eggs for me. With shipping they're about $2/egg!
 

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Pastured eggs we have seen in Washington and California have ranged from $4.00 to $5.75 a dozen.<br><br>
I think the eggs may be higher in good omegas when the grass is growing, but even in the winter they are still better than any of the WalMart factory chickens that probably have never seen a ray of sunshine.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We have hard frozen ground and thick snow for pretty much 5 months out of the year. I'd kill to live somewhere temperate like on the coast but we're deep inland and deep rural, the winters here are fearsome.<br><br>
What exactly makes the eggs healthier if the chickens are outside instead of in a barn, assuming the feed is the same? I'm trying to wrap my head around why it's worth the extra money during the winter months, since everything TF I've read seems to say that it's what the chickens eat that make the eggs more nutritious.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>kbchavez</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10270076"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">All of you would be truly frightened by what I pay for eggs! Pastured eggs from local farms... $8/dozen (for my ds)! And I mail order pastured duck eggs for me. With shipping they're about $2/egg!</div>
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Are you in the SF bay area too? We also pay $8/dozen for pastured eggs, but can't afford them with all the eggs we eat (my DH eats a half dozen eggs in one sitting, we can easily go through 5 dozen or more in a week) so we have been buying cheaper eggs lately.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>gentlemango</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10270721"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">What exactly makes the eggs healthier if the chickens are outside instead of in a barn, assuming the feed is the same? I'm trying to wrap my head around why it's worth the extra money during the winter months, since everything TF I've read seems to say that it's what the chickens eat that make the eggs more nutritious.</div>
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Exposure to sunlight makes a big difference too. The chickens synthesize nutrients that end up in the eggs.<br><br>
We have our own chickens, but before that we bought all our eggs from a local farm. I would never bother with store-bought eggs personally. The cage-free organic eggs you can buy in stores are a rip-off IMO. Get ahold of some actual, FRESH eggs laid by chickens that run around in the dirt under the sun. The yolks are bright orange. The taste is unbelievable. The store-bought eggs just do not compare, even the "organic cage-free" ones are raised under factory-like conditions. The chickens may not be in cages, but they are still enclosed in coops on cement or another easily cleaned surface, there may be ventilation to the outside but the chickens themselves are basically indoors and lack any sun exposure, and they are not eating bugs/worms as they need to be to synthesize the nutrients you want to be getting from the eggs. I think this really is just because it is basically impossible to raise healthy eggs on a commercial scale for resale in stores. It's not possible (i.e. commercially viable) to keep thousands of chickens truly outdoors on pasture but also reasonably protected from predators and illness. I will say I have known a couple people to have pastured flocks of 100 or so chickens, but at that level they were not supplying stores with their eggs, they were just selling by the carton from their front porch.<br><br>
Actually I have seen a couple larger pastured flocks, one at Warren Wilson College and the other at <a href="http://www.polyfacefarms.com/products.aspx" target="_blank">Polyface Farms</a>. In both those cases though you still have to go the farm to get the eggs. They aren't sold in regular stores.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div style="font-style:italic;">Of course it's also a 2.5 hour drive to get the pastured chicken eggs (so far I haven't found a closer source). So I can't do it. There's got to be people around here who have chickens. I just don't know how to find them.</div>
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I'd ask at a feed store. Check your yellow pages for one near you. At the one where we buy our chicken feed there is a bulletin board just inside the door with ads about various farm products for sale, including eggs. You could also just ask the people who work there, if they know of people selling eggs.
 

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We're in northwestern Washington State. I put out a notice on craigslist saying I wanted pastured eggs and got contacted by a couple of different farmers saying they sell them for $3/dozen. That's too expensive for our family though (our grocery budget it $250/month for 2 adults - one being pregnant - and one toddler). So we buy the cage-free eggs from the health food store instead. It's not ideal, but I am certain the chickens are healthier because they get more exercise than the chickens that live in tiny cages.
 

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My goodness! I give extras away to friends and other people we know. Many do insist on giving me a couple dollars.<br><br>
We have chickies for eggs and just for our own enjoyment. It's warm enough here that there's usually some kind of green to peck through and certainly always plenty of bugs. We're planning to add to our flock in the spring. With so much "other stuff" to eat, we don't go through much feed.<br><br>
Milk is another story. We drive about 5 hours each way, every 2 months, for raw grass-fed milk. Then we freeze until needed. Needless to say, we're cow shopping!
 

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i am not trying to add to the argument that the OP should spend more on eggs, i think it is a personal decision- we couldnt afford them if we didnt have our own birds, so we would be in the same boat.<br><br>
in my mind though, there are other things besides what the chickens eat that play a role. i have no proof of these inclinations, but fwiw, here they are:<br><br>
1) the breed of bird. i would think that just as the breed of cow influences the nutritional value of milk (and modern Holstein-Fresians produce watered down milk) heirloom laying breeds would be ideal with modern production breed being less so. modern laying breeds are hybrid to lay, lay, lay until they are culled. they also are not allowed to molt or are forced to molt very quickly, which is not healthy. almost any small flockholder would use heirloom breeds. they are hardy, way smarter, and can fend for themselves.<br><br>
2) disease. our flock just doesnt have it. a huge flock of stressed chickens fed only what they must be fed to survive is far more susceptible to disease, which is why i wouldnt ever eat a storebought egg raw.<br><br>
3) 'life force' i know little about the ethereal world, but i do know that food that is good and whole nourishes us far more than food that is empty. perhaps it is just knowing that the circle of how this food came to me was 'right' that nourishes me. when we eat out, for example, i cannot help but think of the products the restaurant has purchased- meat from here, vegetables from there, at the absolute lowest price possible to secure profits.
 

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I've seen several terms thru this thread such as "free-range", "cage-free", and "pastured". I would urge you, if you are spending extra on eggs, to ask questions. Technically speaking, cage-free eggs can come from chickens that don't ever go outside. They are in a barn crammed together rather than in a cage. Free-range eggs, chicken's don't ever have to go outside either. There is one classification - i think free range - where they have to have "access to" outside pasture. The way farms get around this - they don't open the barn doors the first few weeks so the chickens are used to staying outside. When they do open the doors, it's to a 30 or so foot "pasture" that can't contain even remotely the # of chickens that are in the barn. Most of them, chickens being creatures of habit, will remain in the barn. "Free running" eggs are from chickens that run free outside. I'm not sure if their is a legal "pastured" designation.<br><br>
I was surprised to find out all of this info from our local co-op's newsletter, and to find out that only 1 of their chicken farmers, local, pretty much organic, family owned farms - only 1 of them chose to use the "free running" designation on their eggs. True free-running eggs really do taste and look different. But b4 you pay for fresh eggs, make sure you know what you are getting. I would still think that any from a local farm would be better than Walmart.<br><br>
It also pays to visit a farm. One farm we had been buying eggs from - we visited and found they were very dirty! I didn't notice, but people with us who know what to look for saw several dead and nearly dead chickens which the farmer chose to ignore when pointed out to him. The other chickens were pecking at both the dead and nearly dead ones. Something natural for chickens, but not very sanitary for getting eggs from there. Also, there was a lot of overcrowding in the chick house etc. I would never have noticed these things and I did grow up around farms. Also, this is a locally reputable farm.<br><br>
So again, pays to ask and to visit...
 
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