I Know My Zenger Chickens

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zenger Farms ChickensEvery rare once in a while, Sweets and I step in as chicken babysitters. It’s really our friends who do the work, we’re just the occasional Saturday pickers backup.

The sweet sweet rewards of such chores are pictured below. Can you guess which yolk belongs to the chicken we know? Amazing color in that Zenger egg, especially given that the other two yolks are from a grocery store bought Portland area free-range organic coop eggs- not exactly a bad choice I thought!

This experience helping collect eggs and check in on chickens has undoubtedly changed forever how I will buy eggs. Before I would notice which egg carton labels say “natural” “cage free” or “organic” and then pick the cheapest one. Now I realize what hog wash a label like “cage free” can be with chickens. The key to these chickens is free range. Cage free isn’t good enough for me anymore. Fortunately I’m in a place to put my money where my heart is.

I wish you could see for yourself what free range means vs the industry definition of cage free. With these free range chickens, their fenced in pasture is rotated around the farm land, moving when the chickens eat their patch practically free of anything green. They have a chicken coop in their pasture in which they sleep at night. They also have a sheltered area next to their coop under which their supplemental feed and water is housed.

Ushering the hens to bed at night, has cemented in for me the real image/construct of an egg laying chicken vs this abstract notion that use to pop into my head while contemplating cheap grocery store eggs. To be a healthy egg producing chicken, they need to be supported in a healthy environment to ensure well being. Happy chickens give good eggs. Chickens should live in seasons, in weather, with bugs, sun, and weeds, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Zenger Farms Chickens

More Links on Zenger Farm


posted October 25th, 2007 at 10:52 am

That color is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t believe there is such a difference!

posted October 25th, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Hey, that’s funny, I just put up a post about the Zenger Farm chickens myself today. There’s definitely a big difference in color and taste between these and store-bought eggs, including organic and cage free. I think the freshness is a bigger factor than anything (most eggs are at least four weeks old by the time they reach any grocery store).

Unfortunately, even the term “free range” is often something of a disingenuous conceit, at least as applied to birds raised for meat. Due to health concerns, most industrial scale free range chicken operations don’t allow the birds access to the outdoors until they’re five weeks old, and they’re typically slaughtered at seven or eight weeks, leaving them all of two or three weeks of free ranging. Thing is, when they do finally get access to the yard, they’re so used to being indoors that it doesn’t occur to most of them to even have a look at what’s out there.

Thankfully, we have nearly year-round access to local eggs such as those produced by the Zenger birds, as well as some meats (Carton pork and SuDan lamb come to mind). But it can take an inordinate amount of effort and expense to shop that way. Of course, that’s changing, if slowly, but you’ve got to hand it to big Ag for their ability to co-opt nearly anything that springs up as an alternative!

Thanks for the details Tommy- you’re right.


posted October 26th, 2007 at 12:12 pm

You got to know your chicken.

And I really need to remember to get some good eggs… it’s amazing to make a quick breakfast and then be reminded that eggs can actually have flavor.

- Dave
posted November 2nd, 2007 at 6:11 am

I wish I could touch real chickens before they get sealed on a styrofoam tray.


posted December 10th, 2007 at 8:38 am

I’m living in South Korea, and I got eggs that look just like yours from the grocery store. I’m happy to find out that the bright color means the eggs are better, containing more carotenoids. Uck, I never want to eat normal store eggs in the U.S. again.

- Ben Starosta
posted April 8th, 2008 at 9:24 am

Adding later that this egg co-op has been written up in the local daily.

The eggs have pale cinnamon-pink shells and canary-yellow yolks that stand up high.

We are still loving these eggs.

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