I’ve been telling people for quite a while: Real environmentalists eat white chicken eggs. That’s because white-egg layers are almost always more feed efficient: Hens that lay white eggs are lighter weight and eat less feed to produce the same amount of eggs as brown-egg layers. So, brown chicken eggs require more resources to produce.
Hy-Line is a large poultry genetics corporation. Their website says that Hy-Line W-36 hens (the “world’s most efficient egg layer,” according to the site) consume 1.82 pounds of feed to produce a pound of eggs (white eggs). Hy-Line Brown hens eat 2.02 pounds of feed to produce a pound of eggs (brown eggs).
For reference, a dozen large eggs weighs about a pound and a half. So if your family eats 50 dozen eggs a year, it would take 15 pounds less feed to produce the same amount of white chicken eggs as brown chicken eggs. (See calculations below.) Multiply that by all the families that eat brown eggs, and we could produce much less grain to produce the same amount of chicken eggs.
Whether we eat conventional, industrial brown chicken eggs or conventional, industrial white chicken eggs, the male chicks of these egg-laying strains are destroyed at the hatchery because they’re not good meat-producing birds — they’re inefficient at converting feed to meat.
I’m not prepared to become a vegan, for a bunch of reasons I won’t mention here. So, what’s a meat-eating environmentalist to do? Buy eggs from a farmer who raises dual-purpose heritage breeds. Heritage breeds aren’t as specialized as commercial breeds of egg-layers. They’re pretty good at producing eggs and pretty good at producing meat, so raising the males for meat and the females to produce eggs makes sense — without discarding half the chicks.
Some of these heritage breeds lay white eggs and some lay brown eggs, but the biggest factor is management. It’s time to start telling people that egg color doesn’t matter. Real (omnivorous) environmentalists eat pastured poultry from heritage-breed, free-range production systems.
Using pasture farming methods, giving the birds room to roam, access to sunshine and all the bugs and seeds they can eat (in addition to necessary supplemental feed), produces the most healthful eggs and meat. And, if heritage chicken breeds are involved, you can enjoy the eggs knowing that half the birds weren’t simply discarded.
50 dozen eggs x 1.5 pounds = 75 pounds of eggs
75 pounds of eggs x 2.02 pounds of feed = 151.5 pounds of feed to produce brown chicken eggs for your family for a year
75 pounds of eggs x 1.82 pounds of feed = 136.5 pounds of feed to produce white chicken eggs for your family for a year
151.5 – 136.5 = 15 pounds of feed saved
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