BILLIONS OF EGGS
“The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons. The particulars may vary, but most cultures around the world use the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth.” Peggy Trowbridge Filippone (About.com). Over the years the nutritional value of eggs has been revealed and eggs have found a market around the world.
World egg production will likely reach a record estimated 65.5 million tonnes (144,843 million pounds) in 2013 despite the rate of growth having slowed, writes Terry Evans, industry watcher. Globally, it is considered that hatching eggs represent about five per cent of the total although the proportion of hatching eggs varies greatly depending on the size of the meat chicken industry in a region (from 5 to 15 percent). More than 58 percent of global egg production is in Asia; twenty per cent in the Americas. http://www.thepoultrysite.com.
Global Industry Analysts, Inc. counts the units and projects that the global market will reach 1,154 billion eggs by 2015. We are fortunate that locally some individual producers use organic and/or free range methods of raising chickens and producing eggs. Obviously keeping up with demand in our country and around the world has led to commercial production.
What is commercial production? Raising and collecting eggs from hundreds of thousands to millions of chickens living a healthy and productive life in buildings with many cages of small numbers of hens that are provided with adequate space, circulation, and air temperature. Laying hens are fed with grains grown locally, or purchased, with nutrients added to maintain their optimum health. Many commercial operations manage the processing of the eggs as well.
A slide show at http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/poultry/ pictures a general overview of commercial egg production and processing that includes; hens grouped several to a cage - cages arranged in layers in a long building - cages have wire mesh floors to remove waste; hens receive food and water; eggs are gently rolled over the slanted floor to a trough with a conveyer belt that takes them for processing - are mechanically washed and sanitized, graded, and are automatically examined for quality - are mechanically placed in cartons according to size and readied for shipping. Some eggs are sent to an egg breaker machine that separates the yolk from the whites (18,000 eggs per minute) which are then pasteurized and packaged. Egg shells are processed in the plant and sold as animal feed. Waste may be treated on site and sold as fertilizer.
Just a reminder that there is a story behind every food you eat that can be traced back to a farmer -- often a commercial farmer – to whom we owe our thanks.
Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer04/03/13 (for publication on 04/06/13 in the Journal-Standard, Freeport, Illinois). Della can be reached at email@example.com