With this week being Easter week, I thought it most appropriate to discuss eggs this month for the Ag. Minute. Eggs are produced from layer hens in several different ways. There are caged hen/layers, there are cage-free hens/layers, there are free range hens and there are organic hens. I will touch on each of these production practices.
Caged hens/layers- these hens are placed usually in pens that house several chickens together. They are then placed in rows and the birds are allowed to roam within the cages. These hens receive feed and clean water on a regular basis.
Cage-free chickens - these hens are kept in large open buildings where they are permitted to roam throughout the "barn." These birds lay their eggs in nesting boxes.
Free range chickens - these chickens are the ones that roam through the barnyards and lawns of owners. They lay their eggs in a location that they feel is safe.
Organic birds - these birds' diet has no pesticides, antibiotics or other chemicals added anywhere along the food chain. They are cage free or free range birds in most locations and are allowed to roam at their own will.
For pictures of several facilities Sauder's from Pennsylvania has a great page with a camera view available under the animal care section, cage-free chickens. Check out more chicken information here: http://www.sauderseggs.com/caged_hens.html
With all the hard boiled eggs that are around, it is a great time to do some egg dissection with the kids that may not be quite as messy. You can compare a cooked egg and an uncooked egg. If you want to know the parts of an egg, check out this worksheet that also provides an answer key. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/eggs/pdfs/eggparts.pdf
To see a brief video about poultry & eggs, check out this You Tube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR9rkd36SsI&feature=related This will let you see a little bit of the housing and production.
Oh and don't forget that different breeds of chickens provide different colored eggs. When dying your eggs this year, try a dozen of brown eggs too. They make the colors more intense and deeper in color!
Regardless, we will use a pile of eggs for Easter Egg hunts and decorating them. However you get you eggs Enjoy them this Easter!!!