Backyard chicken eggs are as safe to eat as shop bought eggs. In fact, most chicken owners are more comfortable with their own eggs as they know how their chickens are treated. There is always a small risk of bacteria, such as salmonella, but under the right conditions, it’s minimal.
Can You Eat Backyard Chickens' Eggs?
Absolutely! I would say by far the main reason why people raise backyard chickens is for their delicious eggs.
Whether it’s to save money - or make money by selling the spares - or because you want fresh eggs you know are from happy and healthy chickens, you can’t beat fresh farm or backyard chicken eggs.
This is kind of controversial as I know some people disagree, but fresh eggs laid by free-range chickens fed quality feed taste much better than regular supermarket eggs.
It makes sense, right? The happier a chicken is and the more access they have to natural food sources to forage for and eat, the better quality their eggs will be.
You can pick up quality free-range eggs from the supermarket too. I’m not saying all shop-bought eggs are from caged hens, of course.
But you have to read the small print to make sure chickens are spending a lot of time outdoors, eating a good mix of food, and being treated really well to taste the difference.
You’ll have to pay a little more, but it’s worth it. It’s like anything, companies are out to make a profit, especially with consumables like eggs that are in big demand.
Cheap eggs are typically from “battery” or caged hens. These are hens kept in small cages for the purpose of laying as many eggs as possible. It’s no wonder they suffer in quality.
Backyard chicken eggs taste way better than eggs from caged hens. Honestly, if you ever get the chance to compare them side-by-side, you’ll see and taste the difference.
How Much of Risk Is Salmonella with Backyard Eggs?
The word - or more accurately the bacteria - that people worry about with eggs is Salmonella. I’m sure you’ve heard about Salmonella, it does pose a serious health risk and there is often negative press about it.
The low down on Salmonella according to the FDA is that eggs and some other foods can contain the bacteria known as salmonella. They go on to add that it’s estimated that around 79,000 cases of food poisoning are caused by eggs contaminating Salmonella every year.
That sounds like a lot, and indeed it is a lot. But when you take into account that Statista estimates the average consumption of eggs per person in the U.S. is 289.5, that’s a tiny % causing food poisoning.
In fact, to run those numbers means (rounded figures) 328 million people x 289 eggs each, that’s a total of around 95 billion eggs!
I found that number hard to believe, so I did some further investigating. I found some market research stating that around 229 million cases of eggs are produced each year, and each case contains 30 eggs.
So, by those numbers that is around 83 billion eggs. Give or take a few billion, as it must be hard to estimate, it’s fair to assume that Americans consume somewhere in the ballpark of 83-95 billion eggs a year.
As I said, those 79,000 recorded cases of Salmonella is a small number. And, just think about how many could have been avoided by taking more care to properly store and cook the eggs.
Are Backyard Chicken Eggs Healthier Than Store-Bought?
First of all, I have to make something clear because I know people ask this question a lot; “store-bought” doesn’t always mean you’re buying caged hen eggs.
For the purpose of answering this question, we’re going to go with regular caged eggs vs backyard or farm eggs from free-range chickens.
I’ve read numerous studies, like this one from MotherEarthNews that gives us some scientific data to show that caged eggs are far inferior to free-range eggs in terms of nutritional content.
They point out that compared to commercially produced eggs, eggs from hens that were free-range and allowed to forage and graze on pastures contained:
- ¼ less saturated fat
- ⅓ less cholesterol
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- ⅔ more vitamin A
What does this mean? There’s really no comparison, for the sake of a few extra pennies, if you value good nutrition (as I’m sure you do) you should avoid commercial eggs from caged hens.
Not to mention the fact that it’s inhumane how caged hens are kept! I’m not going to go into that in this article, but that’s a reason alone not to buy those eggs in my opinion.
The fact that they taste a lot better and are much richer in nutrition should make it an easy decision.
If you have backyard chickens of your own or you know someone who does, assuming they have space to roam and forage and are fed high-quality feed - those eggs are going to be much tastier and be nutritionally better for you than commercially produced eggs.
As someone who has eaten farm-fresh and backyard eggs from free-range chickens for years now, I instantly know when I eat an egg at a restaurant if it’s come from a free-range chicken or not.
Call me an egg snob if you will, but there is a huge difference. And, to answer the original question; yes, backyard chicken eggs are safe to eat. Just be sure to maintain good conditions and store them correctly.
Image credits - Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash