It is amazing how different true free-range organic eggs are from store-bought organic eggs. We luckily live in an area that allows chickens and we also grow veggies in our front yard instead of grass. We have three Red Star chickens. They get to wander around our yard from morning to evening hunting bugs and eating grass.
We supplement their foraging with our food scraps and organic layer crumbles and organic scratch from Modesto Milling. They spend most of their time foraging, so they don’t go through the food very fast which makes it relatively economical. But it isn’t so much the economies of having chickens that we enjoy.
So far these Red Stars have been great. They are quiet, extremely hand tame (kudos to the family that raised them – we bought them as pullets to replace our Ameraucana chickens) and lay anywhere from 2-3 eggs a day, so we haven’t had to buy eggs for a long time. The quality of the eggs is so different from the store bought variety! The deep orange of the yolks from the eggs from our chickens is so much richer in flavor and health benefits compared to ones from the store. I wonder what kind of “free range/cage free” foraging commercial chickens actually get because there is no comparison.
A friend recently sent me this link that compares “Organic Egg” operations. There is a wide range of what “organic” means in terms of egg production.
Of course if you use these bright orange eggs in your quiches or your baking, you will get a much brighter, deeper color. We don’t always get the deep orange. It depends on what the chickens have been eating. When pumpkin season comes along, I’m going to get a bunch because I’ve read that it makes for really orange yolks and they love them.
A great backyard chicken resource is the forums at Backyard Chickens. You can read about our coop at www.kungfufarming.com once I get that website up. We made a Fort Knox enclosure because we have sewer raccoons that wander the night and have seen muddy paw prints attempting to infiltrate the pen/coop.