Living Eggs

Ben and Cheryl Tompsett have given schools in the South East the opportunity to participate in the “Living Eggs” programme.

“Living Eggs” is all about giving children the chance to see new life entering the world and viewing a chick emerging from its shell is truly a sight to behold. “Living Eggs” will bring this magical experiences to classrooms all across the region and have done across the country for many years.

Cheryl and Ben have had almost 30 years experience breeding and keeping chickens and wished others to share in the enjoyment. All the necessary equipment is supplied: incubator, brooder and the eggs (ready to hatch in the next few days)- so the children don’t have to wait too long for the process to begin. Also, they have the opportunity to take care of the chicks once they’ve hatched, and then can even take them home to keep.

A step-by-step guide is provided as is a 24 hour helpline to ensure all advice is on your door-step. Hundreds of schools and nurseries have opted for the experience and all feedback has been really positive.

For more information visit: www.livingeggs.co.uk

Egg Factsheet

A staggering 10 billion eggs are consumed in the UK every year. Over 85 per cent of these are produced domestically, with the nation’s 35 million or so laying hens each laying an average of 314 eggs per year – nearly one per day (British Egg Information Service, website, 2006). In the wild hens would only lay 20 eggs in a whole year, but in farm sheds they are subjected to near constant lighting and fed high protein feed to increase egg production.

Types of housing

Cages, about 55 per cent of the eggs sold in the UK come from hens kept in cages.

Percheries (‘Barn eggs’), about 4 per cent of the eggs sold in the UK are ‘barn eggs’

Free-range, about 41 per cent of the eggs sold in the UK are free-range or organic. Eggs sold as ‘free-range’ must come from hens who have access to the outdoors. All organic eggs are free-range, but not all free-range eggs are organic. To be sold as ‘organic’ in the UK, eggs must come from a farm that has been approved by one of ten certification bodies.

What are free range eggs?

Hens that produces free-range eggs must have had, during at least half their lifetime, continuous daytime access to open-air runs.

When they are housed indoors a total of 12 birds per square metre is allowed, however in 2010 that will be reduced to 9. The maximum stock size for free-range hens is 2,500 birds per hectare, although most free range birds at stocked at around 1000 birds per hectare, which is well beneath the EU limit of 2500.

Egg History

Europe has had domesticated hens since 600 B.C.  Chickens came to the New World with Columbus on his second trip in 1493.  Eggs were coloured, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of spring long before Christian times.  While it is customary to throw rice at weddings in many countries, French brides break an egg on the threshold of their new home before stepping in – for luck and healthy babies.

At the time of the French Revolution, the clever French already knew 685 different ways of preparing eggs.

Cooking with Eggs

Eggs

Probably the cheapest source of protein, which can be made into a delicious meal is the egg. From the basic hard-boiled to the “complex” eggs-in-a-poke, the egg can be used for a wide range of meals. Eggs have usually been thought of as breakfast food but when they are combined with meat and cheese, they can make a lunch or a light dinner.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

For this recipe, all you have to know is how to boil water. Just drop the egg gently into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil water for about 10 min. Drop eggs immediately into cold water after cooking to hasten the cooling. Eggs prepared this way can be used in salads or just eaten as is.

Scrambled Eggs

This is a dish which can be prepared for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Combine eggs, onions, milk, and spices into a bowl and mix until yolk and white of egg are blended completely. Melt butter with medium heat in a small frying pan, then add egg mixture. Continue to stir while eggs start to set-up. Cook to desired consistency. Add cheese and meat before the eggs are completely finished. When cheese is melted and meat is warm, the meal is ready. Eggs can be served over toast

Fried Eggs

Like scrambled eggs, fried eggs can be eaten any time. Melt butter in small frying pan. Crack eggs into pan, spice, and cook on low-medium heat. Test firmness of egg by shaking pan. If you want the egg completely set, you can cover the pan while cooking. However, if you let it cook too long, the egg may become rubbery. To prevent this, flip the egg over and cook for about an additional 3 min. You’ll probably break a few yolks until you get the hang of flipping eggs. Can be served on toast.

Eggs-in-a-Poke

This is actually just a variation of the fried eggs recipe. Melt butter in a small frying pan. Cut a hole in a piece of bread (this is made easy if you use the lip of a cup). Place bread with hole in the pan then crack an egg into the hole. Spice and cook the egg and bread as outlined in the fried eggs recipe. Fry the center of the bread (the hole) in the pan as well.

Eggwich

As with all the egg dishes, an eggwich takes only about 5 min. to prepare. Fry an egg or two as described in the fried eggs. While the egg is frying, melt cheese on top of slices of bread, muffins, or hamburger buns in the oven. Place eggs inside pieces of bread and there you have it–an EGGWICH!

Omelets

Ok, this one is the trickiest recipe in the book. However, when the omelette comes out perfect, you get a delicious meal and a whole lot of satisfaction. You can make omelettes in a regular frying pan or buy an omelet pan. Beat eggs and spices in a bowl. Cut or grate cheese and additional fillings before you start cooking the eggs. Melt butter over a low heat in a frying pan, then add eggs. When eggs start to cook, peel cooked parts away from the side and let uncooked egg flow around to the bot tom of the pan. Keep on doing this until most of egg is “set” (cooked). Add cheese and extras, then flip half of the egg over the top of the filling. Let cook another few minutes, then flip and cook a few more minutes on the other side. When bottom of the omelet is light brown and toasty, it’s ready. Omelets take a bit of practice, but they’re worth it.