Philip Sadler, left, and his son Andy Sadler collect and pack between 2,000 to 3,000 eggs every day at the Sadler family farm, Dixie Knoll, at Cobbs Creek. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day
May is National Egg Month; and with a celebration of the egg the first question that comes to mind, and one that has perplexed man from as early as the Ancient Greeks, is which came first: the chicken or the egg?
It’s an age-old mystery, but some scientists claim they have proved the answer to be the egg. Due to mutation that took millennia, we now have the bird called a chicken that lays the 242 eggs eaten by each person in the United States annually. Of course, many believe the chicken was first. Now the origin of birds is still up in the air. Perhaps it will be debated for centuries to come.
Birds and eggs preceded man in the evolutionary chain. History indicates that wild fowl were domesticated as early as 3200 B.C. Egyptian and Chinese records show that fowl were laying eggs for man in 1400 B.C. Europe has had domesticated hens since 600 B.C. There is some evidence of native fowl in the Americas prior to the arrival of Columbus. Yet, it is believed that on Columbus’s second trip, in 1493, his ships carried to the New World the first of the chickens related to those now in egg production.
Nearly 200 breeds and varieties are economically important to egg producers. Most laying hens in the U.S. are Single-Comb White Leghorns.
This area is very fortunate in the fact that there are several egg producers in both Gloucester and Mathews, so fresh eggs are at your finger tips. The Sadler Egg Farm at Dixie Knoll in Dixie is one of those egg producers. This family farm which began in 1925 by three Sadler brothers, William, Hayes, and Edward, is now being operated by second and third generation Sadlers. William Philip Sadler and his son Andy Sadler have on the knoll between 2,000-3,000 chickens laying 2,000-3,000 eggs daily. Philip believes they are the largest egg producer this side of Richmond and Norfolk.
Every part of an egg is edible, although the eggshell is generally discarded. Nutritionally, eggs are considered a good source of protein, supply all essential amino acids for humans and provide several vitamins such as A, B6 and B12. The yolk makes up about 33% of the liquid weight of the egg. A large yolk contains about 60 calories while the white contains about 15 calories.