You’ve probably heard the saying it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a village to ensure Albertans have a stable supply of fresh, safe, and high-quality eggs. Alberta’s egg farmers work with many different industry groups, each with the purpose to move eggs from farm to table successfully. In this blog, we will break down all the essential key players.
First up, hatchery representatives! To produce eggs, you need hens, and this is where hatchery representatives who are solely responsible for supplying chicks to pullet producers/growers come in. Alberta Egg farmers work with hatcheries located in and out of the province, they are well acquainted with their hatchery representatives as they work closely to identify how many hens they will need.
After baby chicks have been hatched, they move to pullet growers who raise baby chicks from one-day old to 19 weeks, which is when they are ready to lay eggs. A pullet grower’s work in successfully raising chicks is critical because growers help chicks learn how to navigate their housing system so that they can produce better eggs.
Alberta egg farmers work closely with veterinarians to ensure their birds are in good health, including creating a custom vaccination schedule and troubleshooting any challenges presented by diseases.
Like veterinarians, producers also work closely with nutritionists and feed representatives to ensure hen health is a top priority by developing and delivering high-quality feed for hens. Egg farmers report feed issues to nutritionists, who then provide feed alternatives that would reduce feather pecking for example.
Prior to eggs making their way to the grocery store, they make a pit stop at one of the two grading stations in Alberta where eggs are washed, inspected, packaged, and delivered to grocery stores. At least once a week, graders will pick up eggs from producers or sometimes producers drop off eggs to the graders.
Another important relationship producers have is with EFA’s Field Service Coordinators, who visit farms once a month to conduct bird counts, test for Salmonella, and guide egg farmers through on-farm programs such as the Animal Care Program, PEEP, and Start Clean – Stay Clean®. Our coordinators pass on questions producers may have to Board and staff, so that improvements can be made if needed.
Alberta egg farmers also work with Egg Farmers of Canada’s (EFC) Field Service Coordinators, who are responsible for ensuring farmers are following guidelines for the national programs Start Clean – Stay Clean® and Animal Care Program.
In addition to being audited by EFC Coordinators, egg farmers go through a third-party auditor who will audit provincial farms once every three years and mainly focus on auditing the national Animal Care Program.
To stay on top of the latest trends and industry growth, producers work with researchers in providing information, samples, and farm data who then convert the findings into tangible learnings for farmers.
The last crucial key player in the egg industry is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which is dedicated to the safeguarding of food, plants, and animals in Canada. For the most part, CFIA is hands-off on the day-to-day farming tasks but is highly involved when there is a food or animal safety concern such as Avian Influenza.
There you have it, a list of groups and individuals that Alberta’s egg farmers work closely with to ensure the eggs you consume daily are safe, fresh, and local!