More Great News About Free-Range Eggs

Tests show free-range eggs have more vitamin A and more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farm eggs. Now it turns out they have more vitamin D as well — three to six times as much!

| February/March 2009

free range eggs - pastured chickens

More nutrients and great flavor — by any measure free-range eggs are superior to supermarket eggs.


The results are coming in from MOTHER EARTH NEWS' latest round of pastured egg nutrient tests. Once again, pastured egg producers are kicking the commercial industry’s butt — yippee, go free range eggs! Our previous tests found that eggs from hens raised on pasture — as compared to the official USDA data for factory-farm eggs — contain:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • Three times more vitamin E
  • Seven times more beta carotene

Now we’re looking at vitamin D, of which many people don’t get enough. New research is showing that this common vitamin deficiency may be related to much more than just weak bones — from diabetes and cancer to heart disease and multiple sclerosis. (You can read more about this important health issue in Vitamin D: Sunshine and So Much More.)

Our bodies can get vitamin D in two ways: when sunlight strikes our skin, or from our diet. Eggs are one of a small list of foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D. The USDA says supermarket eggs contain an average of 34 International Units per 100 grams. Our tests of eggs from four pastured farms in Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania found that their eggs contained three to six times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs. This means two scrambled eggs from pastured hens may give you 63 to 126 percent of the recommended daily intake of 200 IU of vitamin D.

You can keep track of our ongoing pastured egg research at our Chicken and Egg Page. If you raise pastured chickens and are interested in participating in one of our studies, e-mail us.

7/24/2017 3:09:10 PM

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I am commenting because i have a small issue on the subject that i was hoping someone could give some advice about. I live in the desert area around EL Paso, TX. i had grass until my chickens have completely devoured any that tried to come up after last winter. My chickens are numerous but i have had them for 4 years and this is the first year i have had the issue. however my entire yard didn't come back this year either. My chickens have their main part of the yard witch takes up about half of a 1/4 acre. is there any way i can get my yard to grow green again without going overboard with the watering? and is there anything that can help me keep the chickens involved enough that i can actually get my yard to start growing again?

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4/4/2009 1:05:44 PM

I am so pleased to begin, or perhaps really, go back to basics. This year we are going to plant a relatively large garden in a city that was once a quiet rural spot, but unfortunately has grown into a refuge for city folks. It is located just outside of Boston where my grandad, dad, and I have at some point in our lives farmed within a 1/4 mile from each other. It has since developed into a less than farm animal freindly neighborhood and so, with the prospect of purchasing hens and selling beautiful free-range eggs my hopes are beginning to dim. From what I understand, the board of health and building inspectors must come in to play, deeming more politics than good hard work. Are there other such areas that have the same effect, and what are your experiences? Regards Ruthie

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