Egg Industry FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Alberta’s egg industry.
- How many egg farmers are there in Alberta?
More than 160 registered egg farmers provide fresh, locally produced eggs for their fellow Albertans.
- How many eggs do Alberta's egg farmers produce each year?
The province’s egg farmers raise over 2 million hens that each lay about 300 eggs per year, allowing the farmers to provide Albertans with over 50 million dozen eggs annually!
- What is supply management?
The uniquely Canadian system of supply management helps ensure that a stable supply of safe, high quality, fresh, locally produced eggs is always available for Albertans.
Supply management encompasses Canada’s egg, poultry (chicken & turkey) and dairy industries, under which farmers work together to match what they produce [supply] to what consumers want [demand].
- How does supply management work?
Supply management ensures market and price stability for consumers, while providing farmers with fair market returns for their products.
The supply management system consists of 3 pillars: production discipline, pricing mechanisms, and import controls.
All registered egg farmers are required to have quota, which determines the number of hens they are allowed to raise on their farm.
- How can I become an egg farmer?
All egg production in Alberta falls under the provincial Marketing of Agricultural Products Act and regulations. The answer depends on the type of egg farmer you want to become.
EFA launched the New Entrant Program in 2012, to encourage new egg farmers to join our industry.
Albertans can raise up to 300 hens without requiring quota, provided they live in a rural area that allows egg farming.
- Can I raise egg laying hens in my backyard?
In Alberta, unregistered egg farmers can raise up to 300 hens, provided they live in a rural municipality that allows poultry farming.
Raising livestock in an urban environment is a big responsibility, and one needs to check the legalities under their municipal by-laws. Registered egg farmers are experienced at raising hens and are best equipped to provide the care that laying hens require.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has a website for unregistered egg production, which includes a wealth of information and links to additional resources.
- How do the eggs get from the farm to the grocery store?
Eggs are collected daily on each farm and are sent to the grading station, where they are packaged and shipped to grocery stores across the province.
From the time an egg is laid, it typically takes about 1 week for the egg to be on grocery store shelves.
- What is a grading station?
All eggs are washed, inspected (graded), sized and packaged at grading stations, which are registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Farmers sell their eggs to the graders, who then sell the eggs to grocery stores, restaurants and egg processors.
Some egg farmers have CFIA-registered grading stations on their farm, so they can sell direct to grocery stores and restaurants.
- In Alberta, do the eggs come from family farms or factory farms?
Every egg farm in Alberta is owned by family farmers or Hutterite Colonies, many of whom have been in egg farming for several generations.
For Alberta’s farming families, agriculture and egg farming is their life and livelihood, and they are proud to provide their fellow Albertans with fresh, locally produced eggs.
With an average of just over 12,000 birds, Alberta has the smallest average flock size in Canada.
- What is the industry's code of practice and when was it last updated?
The Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets, Layers and Spent Fowl was developed in consultation with veterinarians, animal scientists, and representatives of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
The 2003 Code of Practice is currently being reviewed and updated by the National Farm Animal Care Council. The entire Canadian egg industry works together to continuously improve on-farm practices related to hen health and animal care.
- What is a pullet?
Pullet is a term for hens ranging from 1-day old chicks to 19-weeks of age, when they are ready to begin laying eggs.
The Pullet Growers of Canada oversees the national industry, which shares a common Code of Practice with the egg industry.
- Is the egg industry committed to continuous improvement?
EFA and the province’s egg farmers are dedicated to continuous improvement, to help ensure the long-term sustainability of Alberta’s egg industry.
EFA works closely with Egg Farmers of Canada and the other provincial boards to continually update, expand and enhance our on-farm animal care and food safety programs.
In 2014, EFA launched the egg industry’s first on-farm environmental program and published the industry’s first Sustainability Report, which tracks provincial achievements and progress on a wide variety of issues.
EFA provides egg farmers with ongoing education and training, and encourages all egg farmers to be progressive and innovative, and to adopt industry best management practices.
- Where can I find more information about food safety and bio-security for egg laying hens?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched a new webpage on avian biosecurity, which contains resources for producers, the poultry service industry, and backyard flock owners.