Even in winter, the chickens are outdoors at Ole Dern Farm in Fort Collins, scratching for seeds, insect cases, any tiny green shoots they can find, enjoying the sunshine and fresh but frigid air. Not so in the Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) that provide standard care for most of the animals destined for the grocery store meat department. Most of those animals, especially chickens, never see the light of day, are kept in severely overcrowded conditions that foster disease. They are routinely administered antibiotics to prevent disease outbreaks that spread like wildfire in such crowded quarters. And disease is common even with antibiotics, because these animals are fed an all-purpose mix of food designed in a laboratory, one that always includes soy that is both cheap and plentiful, but not really suitable as animal feed. Animals that are fed their natural diet, that includes the choices they’d make if left to their own devices, are healthier and don’t need antibiotics to prevent disease. Their meat is healthier for us to eat because it forms a different fat structure, their eggs are a better choice due to the healthier fat profile formed as a result of a natural diet.
The egg on the left is one from an organic vegetarian (soy) hen, from a large CAFO farm that advertises their hens are provided access to the outdoors. It’s the same size egg as the one on the right, from one of the hens in the photo above from Ole Dern Farm in Fort Collins. From a hen that is outdoors part of each day to forage for natural food, and fed a supplemental diet that excludes soy and includes the foods that support the formation of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. The yolk is richly yellow, larger, and the white is thick and viscous. The soy egg is a pale version, with a smaller yolk and thin, watery white. I vote for the egg from a hen that is truly free-ranging.