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How To Get Better Tasting Eggs from your Chickens

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A hen's diet can affect how her eggs taste, but not as much as you might think.

Now that you raise your own chickens, you are likely convinced that the eggs your chickens lay taste better than store bought eggs.

It's no mystery that eggs from your backyard are fresher than their commercial counterparts. But do they actually taste better?


Does a hen's diet affect the taste of her eggs? Do certain foods a hen eats determine what her eggs will taste like? Is it possible to get better tasting eggs from your chickens?I was actually curious myself -- and do get asked all the time by readers if feeding chickens things like garlic or onions will taint the taste of their chickens' eggs -- so I decided to do a bit of research.

There were a few things I already knew. 



Things that Don't Affect the Taste of a Chicken's Egg

Eggshell color does NOT affect the taste of an egg. 

The age of an egg doesn't affect its taste either, although older eggs have more watery whites and thinner yolks. As an egg ages, it loses carbon dioxide and moisture through the pores in the eggshell, but neither will affect the taste.

Additionally, the color of an egg yolk doesn't affect the taste either (except maybe in our minds!).  There is no proven correlation between yolk color and flavor, but most people (myself included) will agree that darker orange egg yolks taste better. 

But this is likely just the result of your eyes doing the "eating" before your taste buds get the chance. Chickens allowed to free range and eat lots of leafy greens will lay eggs with darker orange yolks. That doesn't necessarily mean that their eggs will taste better.


In General, No Single Food Will Positively Affect the Taste of a Chicken's Eggs

In fact, no single food will lead to better tasting eggs from your chickens. Otherwise, imagine the "flavored" eggs we would see in the supermarket - rosemary maybe? Or lemon? The commercial farms would have stumbled upon this marketing opportunity ages ago if that were possible.

So What Determines the Taste of an Egg?

It turns out that an egg contains about 100 flavor compounds, mostly in the fat-rich yolk. Despite being mild and fairly bland to the taste, eggs do have a distinctive taste. Fat added to chicken diet can supposedly make eggs taste better. Things like corn oil or beef tallow can purportedly make eggs taste better.

But what else can affect the taste of a hen's eggs?



How to Get Better Tasting Eggs from your Chickens

It turns out that while it's difficult to improve the taste of an egg, there are a few things that can negatively impact the taste of a hen's eggs. And only one factor can affect an egg's taste -- strong flavors in the the food a chicken is fed.

Foods that CAN Affect the Taste of a Chicken's Eggs

Things that can negatively affect the taste of a chicken's eggs include:


  • Garlic/onions
  • Fish meal
  • Flax seed or oil


Garlic/Onions


I personally add garlic powder to my chickens' daily diet and also toss fresh garlic cloves into their water pretty regularly to improve their immune and respiratory health and can tell you from first hand experience that feeding your chickens garlic won't make their eggs taste like garlic.

I don't feed my chickens onions because they're not nearly as nutritious as garlic and can be toxic in large amounts, so I can't speak to that specifically.

However, everything I've read says that feeding onions and garlic will affect the taste of the eggs. So, I'm guessing in moderation, the garlic is not a problem as far as egg taste goes? 

I think you would have to feed garlic and onions in extreme excess to notice any difference in the taste of your eggs. (Although I love garlic and wouldn't actually mind garlic-flavored eggs!) 

So if onions and garlic won't affect the taste of a hen's eggs, will other foods? 


Fish Meal


There are several commercial chicken feed brands that use fish meal as the protein in their feed. Fish meal can definitely make eggs taste fishy.  I have used several fish meal-based feeds in the past and they did make my chicken eggs taste a  bit "off", to the point that I stopped using that particular brand of feed.

If you are finding your chickens' eggs taste fishy, would avoid those brands that use fish meal completely, but if you're determined to keep using them, check your labels. The fish meal should be less than 1 to 1.5% of the feed ingredients to prevent your hens' eggs from tasting fishy.

There is one brand that uses fish meal as a protein which I have never had any problems with and that's Small Pet Select. I have been working with them for a year or two now and my girls not only love their feed, but I have never noticed any off-putting smell or taste in the eggs. So it does pay to shop around and try different brands of feed because each formulation is a bit different.

I do feed my chickens fish scraps, lobster and shrimp shells quite often and have never noticed any off-putting taste in my eggs, so don't worry about that. And the fish and shellfish are great sources of protein for the chickens. 



Flax Seed or Oil

Flax seed or oil can make certain chicken's eggs taste fishy as well.  But only in some chickens. Most chickens' livers produce an enzyme that neutralizes the fishy aspect of the flax after they ingest it.

But some hens lack that gene or have a defective gene that inhibits production of the enzyme. In those hens, the fishy aspect will not be neutralized and instead will be concentrated in the yolks of the eggs she lays.

I wouldn't avoid flax in my chicken's diet. It contains beneficial Omega-3s that contribute to better chicken, chick and human health, and as long as the chicken metabolizes the flax correctly, there shouldn't be any discernible difference in taste. In fact, some say that flax in a hen's diet makes her eggs richer and creamier.

Now, while certain foods won't affect the taste of your chickens' eggs, the healthier diet you feed them, the more nutritious their eggs will be. That's a completely different topic, but it has been proven that a hen can direct the nutrients in the food she eats directly into her eggs.


Does your Storage Method Affect the Taste of a Chicken's Eggs?


There is one more thing that can affect the taste of a hen's eggs. Because eggshells contain pores and absorb air and odors through the shell, fridge odors can penetrate the eggs and change the flavor. 

The longer the eggs are stored in the refrigerator, the more air is absorbed through the shell and the more the flavor of the egg can be affected.

Since unwashed fresh eggs don't need to be refrigerated, I like to leave some out on the counter for baking -- to be sure they haven't absorbed any weird smells from the fridge! 




Bottom line, a person's mindset seems to contribute more to the perceived flavor of eggs than anything else. The best way to get better tasting eggs from your chickens is to avoid excessive garlic or onion, fish meal or flax (in certain cases), and to store your eggs on the counter.

Eggs from chickens that eat a healthy, varied diet including herbs, grasses and leafy greens maybe tastes subtly better than those from chickens eating a commercial diet, but it's not a huge difference and most people can't always tell the difference between the two.

But I think we all imagine that eggs with vibrant orange yolks laid by happy backyard chickens who roam the lawn eating grass and bugs, clover and dandelion greens as well as flowers and herbs are going to taste better than pale yellow eggs from the supermarket. And that's okay. 

I admit that I can barely choke down store bought eggs. But I do wonder? How much of it is in my mind and how much is a scientifically inferior taste? By all accounts, neither a chicken's diet nor the freshness of the egg contributes much to the taste.

But just like pasture-raised milk and grass-fed meat, eggs laid by backyard chickens are absolutely perceived to taste better. Whether its in our mind or actually backed up by our taste buds, at the very least we can feel better eating products from happy animals.

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