Hens Share Immunity in Eggs

Hens Share Immunity in Eggs

Partridge Chantecler hen with chicks

Did you know hens immunity to their environment can be detected in eggs?
Antibodies to Avian Influenza can be detected in eggs. We test our birds for disease twice a year so we are permitted to sell and ship chicks & hatching eggs across the country. Last week was our semi-annual test for Avian Influenza and I sent 30 eggs to the state lab to be tested. It is so much easier on the birds and I than drawing blood!

Hens share immunity with their chicks
Locally hatched chicks benefit from antibodies passed on from their mothers. The immunity to local disease and adaptation to climate reduces disease and the need for antibiotics. We chose to hatch our own chicks on Old Time Farm so they would obtain immunity to their environment from their mothers and have the strongest start possible.

Chicks are not the only beneficiaries
Chicks are not the only beneficiaries from these antibodies or immunoglobulins (IgY) passed on by the hens. People and animals who eat the local eggs can benefit from the antibodies as well. 

Eggs have been studied by Ehrard, Losch, Yolken, Kuroki and Sunwoo for treating diarrhea in calves, piglets, mice, monkeys and humans caused by e coli, campylobacter, salmonella, and rotavirus as well as by Krejci and Nguyen for treating canine parvovirus.

It is an old farmer trick to add raw eggs to milk replacer to help a calf get over scours (diarrhea) - now studies are showing it is the antibodies the hen provides to the bacteria rather than just the protein that is helpful.

Antibodies are still viable when eggs are boiled
These valuable antibodies have been show to remain intact and active after boiling the eggs at 212 degrees for 6 minutes (Losch, 1986) - so the eggs do not have to be raw to obtain the benefit. Most of the IgY is found in the yolk. The IgY from eggs has been tested as a food preservative to extend the shelf life (Xu, 2012) as it prevents the growth of bacteria.

The Value of Truly Local Food
Yep, local food is so much more that a feel-good, cool thing to buy. How much are we REALLY missing by buying centralized food that is remotely produced?

Last week's recipe ...