Since being on the farm, I’ve made a huge discovery with chickens. I think that we fed our chickens way too much when we had them. I was always excited to have those eggs with the dark orange yokes, but our eggs always had yokes similar in color to the store bought eggs. Sure, they were a little darker, but not what I had imagined.
When we had eggs on the farm the other day, the yokes were bright orange and when scrambled were noticeably different than what you get from the store. I thought about what we did and what they do at the farm and I figured it out.
I always made sure that my chickens had food in their feeder. The food was always the stuff bought from the store and I made sure it was plentiful because I didn’t want my birds to be hungry. I also fed them kitchen scraps, but they didn’t eat a whole lot of those; they would just sort of pick through it and take the few items they wanted.
On the farm, they rarely feed their chickens feed. The chickens get kitchen scraps and are otherwise expected to scavenge food… You know, like they did before they were domesticated. First off, the chickens eat every bit of the kitchen scraps that we put in their pens. Second, the chickens spend considerable energy seeking bugs because they are still hungry.
It is when the chickens are scavenging and eating more greens and bugs, like they would in nature, that the yokes get brighter. I feel a little bad that the chickens are hungry, but when I really think about it I think that people should be hungry more often too. The constant availability of food certainly hasn’t done anything good for human health. I’m really gaining an appreciation for the fact that a hard life promotes health and an easy life tends to be less healthy. I recognize the exceptions and extremes, but I truly believe that there are some negative consequences (to health and otherwise) to an easy life.