Which is healthier: white-shelled eggs or brown-shelled eggs?
Which do you prefer - white or brown eggs?
There are more chickens on Earth than there are people. With nearly 19 billion chickens around, that means there are a lot of eggs! There are two main types of chickens - egg-laying and broilers. Broilers are raised for meat and may still lay eggs. We grow egg-layers on our farm; they are pets with extra benefits. From the egg-layers, only about 9% lay brown eggs in the US. In New England - more than 51% of eggs sold are brown! No other region of the US comes close in preferring brown eggs. So what is the difference between a white-shelled egg and a brown-shelled egg?
All eggs start out white
Growing up, we saw brown eggs only if they were locally raised from a small flock. There are even more colors of eggs, like blue, green, pink, chocolate and more. The reason there are colors - it is in the breed of the chicken. All eggs start out white, and eggs that end up white are eggs that skip their stop at the paint station.
An egg takes 26 hours to form when a chicken is in her prime. The shell is built for about 20 hours of total formation time, and the pigment is added, like painting a house, in the last step. The color is applied long after the nutritional content has been formed.
The brown egg layers need to have more nutrients and energy in their bodies to produce an egg than the white shell layers. It takes more feed for a brown-shell or any color-shell egg layer to accommodate the production of the egg.
The secret is in how they are raised and what they are fed
What makes a difference is that chicken breed and how that chicken was raised. Get to know your farmer! If you’ve ever eaten eggs from hand-raised chickens, chances are they were brown, and you may have noticed they tasted slightly richer or had a more vibrant yolk. It’s the feed that is given to the chicken. Feed plays a significant role in the color of the yolk and taste of the egg.
The USDA explains that nutrient content differs based on how the chickens are fed and how they are raised. Pasture-raised chickens have the most Omega-3s and DHA. Chickens that are pasture-raised compared to industrial battery cage chickens have:
- 1⁄3 less cholesterol
- 1⁄4 less saturated fat
- 2⁄3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
- 4 to 6 times more vitamin D
When hunting for the best egg, New Englanders say that brown eggs are local and local is fresher. Egg colors are fun. Fresh from the farm makes a difference with intact membranes, taller yolks, and better flavor. Pasture-raised gives you nutritional benefits. Support locally raised hens - it takes a community.