Break open one of the pastured eggs produced on Sam and Mary Zehr’s farm and you’ll notice the difference from typical supermarket eggs right away.
That stand-up egg white and brilliant, deep yellow yolk are the signs of a happy hen allowed to roam outdoors, where she gets fresh air, sunshine and a more varied diet, with lots of greens. You’ll notice a difference in the taste, too.
“You maybe don’t think of it so much when you switch over, but we hear from customers all the time that when they buy these, they don’t want to go back to the other kind,” says Sam. An Old Order Amish farmer, he took over his retired father’s egg-laying flock a few years ago and is one of the local suppliers for Schmucker’s Fresh From The Farm.
The Zehrs, who have seven children aged 2 to 16, keep their hens the old-fashioned way. They’re allowed to roam free in the barn on fresh straw bedding, and in good weather they go outdoors, where they enjoy hours in the sunshine and a more varied diet. “Being out in the sun and being out in the grass changes the colour of the yolk,” Sam explains. “They like fresh green grass; they’ll eat bugs. After a rain they’ll be fighting over earthworms,” he adds with a chuckle. The hens are fed dried grass in the winter. They can still go out to pasture if they want to.
Otherwise, the Zehrs’ happy chickens eat corn and soybean meal that’s produced right on their farm east of Millbank, Ont., all GMO-free and grown without sprays or artificial fertilizers.
Why don’t all egg producers do it this way?
“You could say it’s not as efficient per square foot,” Sam explains. “The biggest reason is that a lot of the chicken farmers these days have a couple thousand birds and it would be too difficult to have them outside in the summertime and move their shelters around. In the winter they’d need bigger barns.”
The labour-intensive nature of producing pastured eggs is the main reason they’re typically a little more expensive, but the payoff comes with great taste and potential health benefits. Eggs are a great source of protein (7 grams per egg!), iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, plus disease-fighting trace nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, all in a tasty and incredibly versatile natural package.
You can enjoy the Zehrs’ super fresh eggs without having to leave the city. They’re available at Schmucker’s Fresh From The Farm in sizes from medium to extra-large. Why not give them a try?
Pure, natural and delicious: pastured eggs from the Zehr family to yours!