Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Glenda Heywoodo, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    How to Get Those Delightful Dark Orange Yolks From Your Backyard Chickens


    If you asked most people what color egg yolks are, they would likely answer yellow. Yolks have always been associated with the color yellow, which is unfortunate because backyard chicken keepers know better. Backyard chicken keepers know that yolks can and should be a bright, bold orange, and those bright, bold orange yolks are a sign of a happy, healthy hen.
    Last year, I compared my pasture-foraging, insect-pecking, soil-scratching, whole grain-feeding chickens’ yolks to the yolks of both their “free-ranging” and factory-farmed counterparts. The results were clearly visible: Yolks from my homegrown eggs were not only darker, but also fuller and thicker. Even the eggshells were denser and harder to crack.
    But what’s the big deal about orange yolks?
    Besides being a coveted color, orange yolks are an indication of a well balanced and highly nutritious diet. A few things factor into the making of an orange yolk: xanthophylls, omega-3 fatty acids, and meats.
    Xanthophylls are a class of carotenoids. Carotenoids are natural plant pigments found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s often thought that beta-carotene, one of the more well-known carotenoids, is responsible for giving yolks the orange pigment that people associate with carrots. But in actuality, beta-carotene benefits yolks nutritionally, rather than colorfully. The carotenoids that cause deeper yolk coloring are xanthophylls, which are more readily absorbed in the yolks. (Lutein is one such xanthophyll, and a lot of lutein means a lot more orange.) Xanthophylls are found in dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and collards, as well as in zucchini, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
    Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in flax seeds and sea kelp, which are both important components of my homemade whole grain chicken feed.
    And did you know that chickens are not meant to be vegetarian, no matter what your premium carton of organic/grain-fed/cage-free eggs tells you? Chickens are omnivores by nature and their healthiest diets include meats, such as mealworms, beetles, grasshoppers, grubs, and whatever creepy-crawly they can pull out of the ground. I’ve even heard of chickens (those ballsy ones out in the boonies) attacking small rodents and snakes!
    When you have all of these sources incorporated into a hen’s healthful diet, the nutrients they consume are passed on to their eggs and concentrated in their yolks. According to Mother Earth News, which conducted its own egg analysis, and a more recent Pennsylvania State University study, pastured eggs contain higher levels of vitamins A, D and E; more beta-carotene; and more omega-3s.
    All this means is that a pastured egg is better for you. And that’s one of the reasons we raise chickens, right?
    So, how do we get those delightful dark orange yolks from our backyard chickens?
    Let your ladies roam a pasture (or a garden — especially if you’re digging over new beds — or even just a new patch of dirt in their chicken tractor) for an orange-boosting bug buffet.
    Give them plenty of fresh greens to increase the lutein in their yolks. The darker the green the better, so I often fix them a feast of edible amaranth (one of my favorite summer greens), kale, collards, broccoli leaves, or whatever I happen to have growing in my garden. If it’s the middle of winter and your garden greens are lacking, you can feed them alfalfa.
    They’re very handy helpers at the end of the season when most of my greens have bolted and become bug-ridden. Let the chickens clean up those plants before you pull them out for your compost pile. It’s a win for everybody! (Except the bugs, that is…)



    (As an aside, don’t be fooled by the cheater method that egg factories take, and simply feed your chickens more corn. While corn can give your yolks that nice golden color, it has little nutritional value.)
    After a few weeks, you’ll be so used to seeing orange yolks (the way most of us have been conditioned to see yellow yolks) that you might even think they haven’t changed in color. Buy some eggs from the store and crack them into a bowl with your homegrown eggs — you’ll be stunned at the difference

  2. GOTchickens1978

    GOTchickens1978 Just Hatched

    Dec 27, 2016

    My first eggs VS grocery bought eggs
  3. eggmandoo

    eggmandoo Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 14, 2016
    Notts, uk
    I still don't have the orange. My hens feed on layers pellets and greens like cabbage and broccoli. I give some corn at the end of the day. Is there anything else I could give? I am mindful to keep on layers for nutritional reasons
  4. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    Glenda Heywood
    Firs my advise is to do away with the pellets
    my daughter found the chickens did not like pellets and wasted most of that kind of feed
    AND PURINA OMEGA FEED has the ingredients for dark yellow egg yolks

    Also here is the wet mash probiotic to feed two times a week to the whole flock of chickens

    for the chickens you need to use the
    wet mash probiotic with Vitamin E

    1 qt of dry crumbles
    1-1/2 qt of milk any kind
    1/2 cup of yoguart
    and for each chicken in flock and turkey put in one 400 mg of vit E cut end off and add to mix
    For each Chicken fed this
    mix wet mash mixture good
    and when put in a feeder spread 1/2 cup of apple sauce over top of mixture
    so chickens will learn to eat this mixture
    it gives excellent health to the chickens

    feed this for several days twice a day till their health
  5. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016
    About 30 years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of administering the coup de gras that effectively ended the life of a then 60 year old hatchery operation. This had been a big operation and once upon a time, they had been one of the primary suppliers and shippers of baby chicks purchased through Sears and Roebuck. They hatched and shipped chicks by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. They had developed their own line of white leghorns that at one time were running around on thousands of farms in the US. But by the time I got there, things had changed. Production had shifted to the very large commercial cage layer operations and farmers, like my parents and their neighbors, were no longer keeping chickens. All the chicken houses on farms were empty and the 20 to 30 large incubators in this hatchery operation had gone cold. Ma and Pa who ran the place had put their life savings into trying to keep it afloat, but they had come to the end of the line.

    I remember a lot of things about that experience, but one of them was listening to Ma tell me about the benefits of fresh farm eggs. How the color was different and how the yolks would "stand up and say howdy"! I had never had one, so had no frame of reference, but I filed that bit of knowledge away for the future. That devotion to the trade and belief in what they were doing was a big reason why they had tried to hang on so long.

    So the worm turns and a few years later I find myself inside a commercial cage layer operation. When I brought up the subject of eggs, one of their officers.....the company accountant of all people, told me how they could alter the color of their eggs and thickness of their shells by simply changing the feed ration. They could alter the thickness of the shell by how much calcium they put in the feed. None or a little and the shells would be paper thin and break. A lot and they would be hard. He also claimed they could alter the color of the yolk from yellow to bright orange to almost green if they wanted to, simply by changing what they fed. So they fed what the market wanted to see, and if one option resulted in a penny of profit, they took it. A penny may not sound like much, until you multiply it by a million, as that is how many birds they had. But what also made an impression on my was the birds had no choice. They were captive inside their cage and had to take what came to them in the way of food.

    I think about those two options now and have concluded Ma was right. I like the ones I find in my house better. It requires some effort and expense, but I do like them better.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Karen Glatz

    Karen Glatz New Egg

    Jun 28, 2017
    I have grape vines and feed grape leaves to my chickens (along with the grapes in season). The girl who gobbles the most, has dark orange, almost red-orange yolks in her eggs. They also get the home made meat mix I feed my dogs and cats and home made yogurt as well as worms from under the rabbit cages and spiders from the pile of bricks by their coop. They are probably eating maggots too, since the population of flies has gone down to near nothing. They eat layer or feather fixer pellets too, but not nearly as much as they used to eat when they were in a small run. Happy girls and great eggs.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by