Saturday, February 28, 2009

Egg yolk colour is not a good guide

Most years there is a problem maintaining the rich colour of yolks during summer when there is little green feed around. The majority of egg farms overcome this by putting additives in the feed - but we choose not to include pigmenters in the chook feed.
The colour of the yolk is due to substances called carotenoids. The nutritional value of the egg is not affected in any way by the natural yolk colour but most buyers expect a deep yellow or orange colour - particularly from free range eggs. And that's exactly what our customers get most of the year.
But right now, with the summer heat after an extremely long drought the yolks of our eggs are paler than normal because there is virtually no green feed around.
The most important sources of carotenoids in poultry feed are corn, lucerne and grass meals; these sources contain the pigmenting carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Unfortunately the carotenoid content in the ingredients of poultry feed is not constant; the pigmentation properties of the carotenoids can be weakened or lost and the fluctuations are out of our control. It is these fluctuations in naturally-occurring carotenoids which push most producers to chase consistency by adding yellow and red carotenoids (such as apoester and canthaxanthin) to the feed. That's something we will never do. If we lose customers just because our yolks are paler than normal for a month or so during dry weather, so be it. We won't compromise our undertaking that we use no chemicals on the pastures where the hens roam and we include no additives in the feed to achieve the desired egg yolk colour.
Producers claim that the colouring additives are natural products. What they mean is that they may be derived from natural products. Virtually all of them are made in laboratories by men and women in white coats.
We choose to feed a corn-based mash supplemented by green feed from our veggie garden when there is no green grass in the paddocks.


Andy Peverill said...

Thankyou - We have just started supplying Free Range Eggs and our first substantial complaint was that the yolks were too pale. I like you choose not to use chemicals in our feedand prefer the more natural approach.

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