According to studies comparing free range hen eggs to the USDA's data on factory-farm eggs, free range eggs have:
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
- Three times more vitamin E
- Seven times more beta carotene
- 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D
All this makes sense to me; after all, when hens are allowed to free range, they forage - following the method of finding food that God designed for them - and get a much wider range of nutrients.
You'll also notice a few other things about home grown, free range eggs:
- The shells are much thicker. They aren't the flimsy things found in grocery stores.
- The yolk is much more golden. By comparison, store bought eggs look washed out. (See the photo, above. The egg on the left is store bought. The (double yolk) egg on the right is from one of my hens. They are still very young, so their eggs are slightly smaller than store bought eggs, but soon their eggs will be full sized.)
- They taste much better. Store bought eggs taste old by comparison - no doubt because they are!
- Home grown eggs are not as easy to boil and peel - unless you know a little trick. You see, store bought eggs have been sitting around a while. And as eggs age, more air gets inside the shell. So when you try to peel a fresh, boiled egg, you'll find it difficult to get the shell off because there isn't much air between the egg and shell. There's a simple solution, however. Before boiling, use a pin to poke a little hole in the wide end of the egg. Then boil as usual, cool slightly, and peel as normal. I find this easier to do (with home grown or store bought eggs) if I peel them under running, cool water. (UPDATE: An even easier method is simply to steam the eggs.)