Eggsperts still disagree as to which came first; the chicken egg or the chicken. I recently came across an in-flight magazine article that very convincingly argued for the chicken.
Some source of heat and nurturing must be involved in the incubation and care of the chick. Most definitely the chicken came before the electric incubator with automatic egg turner and thermostat and electrically warmed brooders.
In a recent study of egg production I found a scientific article describing the step-by-step creation of an egg and all the internal workings of a hen that make this happen. Amazing.
The author seemed highly intelligent and scientific in his observations, with an excellent understanding of the mechanics and necessary elements that produce an egg. He described each and every detail, ingredients, nutritional values, how each internal part of the egg related to the other, relied on the other, and their purposes in providing a healthy shell, and food or chick.
The chicken egg seems to be a modern and ancient marvel of design in a neat little package. In spite of his extensive scientific knowledge, the author felt the need to relay his child-like wonder concerning the existence of eggs and that a hen could make them inside their body. I share his wonderment each time I make a trip to my chicken house to gather up the multicolored treasures from the nest boxes.
According to chicken historians, man has created a place in his life for chickens
beginning about 8000 years ago. This hearty jungle creature has thrived in the care of man and seems quite willing to continue to allow us to toy with its genetics. The chicken egg is a long sought after source of excellent nutrition.
In the care of man this species has been changed from a free ranging Asian jungle bird, foraging on the ground during the day and sleeping in the trees at night, to an amazing variety of sizes, shapes and colors that happily inhabit coops and yards around the world.
Man has taken a wild bird (Gallus gallus) that might have laid 1 – 2 dozen eggs in a year, made modifications through genetic selections, resulting in a hen that can and does lay 365 or more eggs in a year. Gallus Domesticus describes one of the most diverse sub species man has developed. The chicken egg varies in size and color but remains and excellent source of nutrition across the globe.
There was a time in my life that I knew little about that yellow food that mom put on my plate for breakfast a few times a week. All I knew is that it was called “eggs” and I liked it. I have no idea when I saw my first chicken, or made the connection that eggs come from chickens, but from the day I tasted my first farm fresh chicken egg, I hoped to have my own chickens someday.
That fluffy scrambled egg dish served with toast and maybe a side of sausage or bacon and a glass of milk or orange juice is an American classic, but there seems to be no end to recipes that call for eggs.
The chicken egg is mostly water, some proteins, some fats, some vitamins, minerals and other nutrients (if a hen has good amounts of these in her diet). A hen must have all these in her diet, in quantities only limited by her appetite, to stay healthy, especially while producing eggs.
With a balanced diet, good water and exercise, she can produce a very healthy egg every 30 –36 hours. The color of the yolk can vary from a milky yellow to dark red-orange depending on the diet of the hen.
The thickness of the yolk can vary also from watery to thick and pudding-like. The deeper the color of the yolk and the thicker, are indicators of the nutritional value of the egg as well as the hen’s diet.
Nutrients important for eye-sight, like Lutein come from dark colored vegetables and can be present in a chicken egg from a chicken eating a healthy diet that includes fresh veggies.
Beta Carotene, a source of Vitamin A may also be present in rich orange colored yolks in hens with colorful vegetables in their diet (though I have heard of some chicken feeds that contain a dye that transfers to the yolk, mimicking the result of a healthy chicken diet).
Studies are ongoing regarding dangerous levels of bad cholesterol in the egg. Eggs from chickens claiming healthy cholesterol levels advertise the feeding of flax seed to their hens. The types of fats a chicken eats will affect her eggs.
No matter how you reason it through, at my house the chicken comes first. I work to create and maintain a healthy life for my chickens, so I know I can count on my hens to give me the best possible chicken egg they can produce.
If you have questions that you would like to ask a vet, use the service below. Ask a Vet has qualified doctors that can answer questions about chicken health.
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