Ask an Egg Farmer

9 Results Showing
Ask your own question

More Questions

Matt G

What is the difference between free-range and free-run eggs?

EFA
EFA

Take a look at the video below for your answer from a local egg producer!

Joeseph

Years ago I had eggs with almost pink yolks, most delicious eggs I ever had. What would cause this?

EFA
EFA

Egg yolk colour can vary due to many factors, but feed makes the biggest impact. For example, light yellow yolks are from hens fed a wheat-based diet, and darker yolks are a result a corn-based diet. Some of the bright orange yolks are caused by certain vitamins the hens are fed. I have never heard of pink yolks before. A lot of our resources indicate that a pink yolk can be an indication of bacteria and spoilage, but I’m thinking in your case it might be related to the hen eating something – perhaps beetroot however I’ve never heard about this before with any other farmers.

Bob

Is there any way to tell prior to buying eggs the colour of the yolk. Looking for pale yolks and can only find dark ones that are for baking only or thrown out. Thank you for any advice

EFA
EFA

When you buy eggs, the colour of the yolk depends on what food the hen eats. If you are from out east, the feed is corn-based, whereas in Alberta it is wheat based because that is what is more readily available. Hens then are free-range or free-run will have a darker yolk because they are foraging the environment around them. Lighter yolks typically come from hens in a housing unit who are on a controlled diet.

Linda

I brought free-run brown eggs last week and fried some this morning, and they tasted fishy! What is with the fishy taste?

EFA
EFA

Any eggs that come from hens that were fed a diet high in flaxseed could smell ‘fishy’, as a result of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that flaxseed naturally contains. Increasing the flaxseed component in hen feed is one of the most common ways for hens to produce Omega-3 eggs; the ‘fishy’ smell actually comes from the omega-3 fatty acid, even in fish.

Charlotte

Is there a program to adopt hens that are of no further use to the layer industry, like there is in the UK?

EFA
EFA

There is currently no such program to adopt end-of-lay hens in Alberta.

Charlotte

Can you be more specific about how these animals are killed when they are discovered to be of no use to the industry, or when they become too sick to continue laying eggs? What exact method is used to kill the chickens?

EFA
EFA

When a farmer finds an individual hen that is sick or injured, to the point that is must be euthanized, the most common method is cervical dislocation. When it comes to end of lay, Egg Farmers of Alberta has been leading the way in terms of pioneering the development of two new technologies for more humane euthanasia. The first is a Modified Atmospheric Chamber, which uses CO2 gas, and the second is Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning. EFA works closely with Alberta egg farmers to ensure that they are always meeting or exceeding American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) standards.

Mickey

What methods of euthanization are used on male chicks in Alberta, and how can I find out which method is used by a specific egg farmer when I am choosing which eggs to buy?

EFA
EFA

Male chicks are humanely euthanized at the hatchery, before the day-old chicks are sent to a pullet grower. Those hens are sent to egg farmers when they reach 19 weeks of age and start laying eggs. All registered Alberta egg farmers use an approved and humane method of euthanasia, whether at end of lay, or when a bird is sick or injured. The more than 17o egg farmers in the province sell their eggs to a grading station, who inspect and package the eggs before selling them to retailers and restaurants, so the eggs cannot be traced back to a specific farm.

Diana

How much would egg cartons cost to buy?

EFA
EFA

EFA represents the farmers, who sell their eggs to the grading station, where they are cleaned, graded, and packaged for retail. In Alberta, Burnbrae Farms and Sparks Egg Farms are the two main graders, so you would have to contact them if you’re interested in purchasing egg cartons.

Jen

Why are only brown chickens used in free-run and free-range housing, and only white birds used in traditional housing?

EFA
EFA

Egg farmers use a variety of white and brown breeds in all types of housing. Common brown chicken breeds tend to be more calm, which is a benefit for managing birds in a loose housing system.

Luisa

Could you tell me how hens and roosters are euthanized?

EFA
EFA

Whenever a chicken is euthanized, whether it’s a sick/injured hen on a layer farm or a male chick at the hatchery, they are humanely euthanized by trained personnel. There are also a number of international research initiatives underway with the goal of developing an alternative to, and eliminating the need to, euthanize male chicks.

Davinder

How much does an average egg farmer make in a year?

EFA
EFA

That question is hard to answer, since no two egg farms are the same. Most Alberta egg farmers operate their layer barn as part of a larger farm, with a variety of animal agriculture and crops, which together form their business. It really depends on the size and makeup of the entire farm, and the egg barn may only be a piece of a much broader puzzle.

Georgina

Does the farmer actually make more money per dozen eggs, when they produce free-range organic eggs? I pay about $6 per dozen and I am thinking that the farmer might make 50 cents profit per dozen. Would this be true?

EFA
EFA

Canada’s egg industry operates under the supply management system, where the price farmers get paid per dozen eggs is based on the national average cost of production. Farmers producing specialty eggs tend to receive a higher price, since the cost to produce specialty eggs is typically higher. For the free-range organic eggs you buy, the cost of organic feed is higher, birds running around (in and outside the barn) require more feed and water since they burn more energy, the barn has a larger footprint that requires more electricity to heat, etc… As an FYI, supply management only sets the price that farmers receive from the graders. The graders then negotiate the price they get from retailers (ie: grocery stores and restaurants), and the retailers are free to set the price that consumers pay for their eggs.

Eli

Do eggs from brown hens typically have a more frequent occurrence of blood spots than those from white hens?

EFA
EFA

The incidence of blood spots does vary between strains of birds, but typically about 2-4% of eggs laid will contain some blood. An increased frequency of blood spots could be caused by various problems with the feed, lighting issues, or unexpected disturbances in the barn. A farmer often consults with their poultry veterinarian and/or feed nutritionist, in order to help identify and resolve the cause.

Kindra

Why do you think egg farming is vital to Canada?

EFA
EFA

Egg farming, and agriculture in general, is integral to being able to provide safe, fresh, high-quality, nutritious, locally grown/raised food for all Canadians. In 2015, Canadians consumed more than 600-million dozen eggs (well over 7 billion eggs!), marking the 9th straight year that national demand for fresh, local eggs has increased. There are more than 1,000 registered egg farming families across the country, who are happy to feed their fellow Canadians!

Hil

Is there such a thing as grain and soy free chickens or eggs (similar to grass fed beef)? If so, can I buy it in Calgary?

EFA
EFA

If you want to purchase eggs laid by chickens that were fed a purely plant-based diet, then look for Vegetarian eggs at your local grocery store.

Victor

How are egg laying chickens treated? Are they kept in cages? How can I make sure that my eggs are raised free-range or organic?

EFA
EFA

Alberta egg farmers are committed to providing the highest quality care possible to their birds, regardless of the type of hen housing system they utilize, and they must all follow the mandatory national Animal Care Program. When shopping for eggs, both free-range and organic eggs come from hens raised in free-range housing.

Corina

I enjoy eating raw egg yolks, particularly when served over steamed rice. Are Albertan eggs safe to eat this way?

EFA
EFA

When preparing raw or lightly cooked eggs, you must use proper food handling methods. Grade-A eggs must have clean, uncracked shells. Wash you hands in hot, soapy water before and after handling the eggs. Eat the dish immediately after preparation or immediately refrigerate the product until served, keep it cold during serving and consume it the same day it is prepared. Discard any leftovers.

Gina

I am just starting out with chickens and I got a coop that holds 5-7 chickens.  What breed would be best for Alberta, and where would I get them from?

EFA
EFA

Alberta agriculture has a wide variety of resources available for small-scale, unregistered egg farmers, which can be found on their website. You can also call them at 310-FARM (3276). Just be sure to confirm that raising chickens is legal in your area.

Judith

Could you send me a list of ingredients for the substance used to sanitize/wash eggs?  Due to an allergy, I’m curious if there is corn in the substance?  Also, is the egg’s exterior natural coating removed during the washing/sanitizing process?

EFA
EFA

All chemicals used to clean eggs at the grading station are food-grade chemicals that are approved by both federal and provincial regulations, which are verified to not contain any priority allergens (corn is not a priority allergen in Canada, so CFIA would not be specifically looking for it). Also, the egg’s natural coating is removed during the cleaning process. You should always follow recommendations for storage and handling of eggs.

Sandy

What are those little specks (sometimes red, sometimes brown) inside an egg, usually in the egg white? Are they safe to eat?

EFA
EFA

During the formation of an egg, a blood vessel can occasionally rupture in the hen, causing a blood spot to form. Blood spots typically occur in less than 1% of all eggs laid. Eggs with blood spots are usually removed during grading, but occasionally a very small spot is missed. Although an egg with a blood spot is not harmful to eat, the spot can easily be removed with the tip of a knife before cooking.

Skyeler

What is the usual annual salary working at an egg farm?

EFA
EFA

For egg farmers, it really depends on how many hens they have, how many grade-A eggs the hens lay, what type of eggs they lay (ie: regular white, omega-3, free-run, organic, etc…), and what other livestock and/or crops they raise on their farm.  If you’re talking about employees at an egg farm, then it’s whatever wage is negotiated between the employee and the farmer.

Susan

How can you tell if your eggs are fresh, and can you consume eggs that have passed their expiry date?

EFA
EFA

If stored in their original carton in the middle of your fridge, eggs should be good for about a week beyond the expiry date.  However, one way to test for freshness is to drop an egg into a glass of water – if it sinks it is fresh, if it floats it isn’t!

Tania

What came first – the chicken or the egg?

EFA
EFA

The egg, obviously!  Of course, the Alberta Chicken Producers probably have a different opinion!

Claire

What is your favorite egg recipe?

EFA
EFA

Susan Schafers already shared one of her favorite recipes on her blog – classic cream puffs! Check out the recipe for yourself on her blog.

Regina

What happens to small and pee-wee eggs?

EFA
EFA

Most small and pee-wee eggs get eaten at home by the farmer’s family, or else they are sent to the egg processor.

Lorna

What is the average percentage of double-yolk eggs in a flock?

EFA
EFA

Though not uncommon, especially with very young or very old birds, double-yolk eggs still only account for less than 1% of our daily egg collection.

Kristen

What is your favourite part about working with chickens?

EFA
EFA

I love to see my hens cooing and clucking and following me around the barn!

R

How long does it take eggs to get to market?

EFA
EFA

Most eggs are available in grocery stores about a week after they were laid, meaning you always have access to fresh, high quality, locally produced eggs!

Garret

What are the best type of egg laying chickens in Alberta?

EFA
EFA

Alberta egg farmers care for a variety of breeds. The choice is largely dependent on the type of hen housing system the farmer has, as well as their individual experience and comfort level raising a particular breed.

Marc

Could you please clarify under what conditions hens are kept?  What regulations are in place for farmers to raise healthy hens for egg production?

EFA
EFA

The Canadian egg industry follows practices outlined in the national Animal Care Program, which is based on the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets, Layers and Spent Fowl. The Animal Care Program is mandatory for Alberta egg farmers, as a requirement for being licensed to produce eggs. The Animal Care Program ensures that hens have a safe, healthy and comfortable living environment, providing guidelines for space, water, feed, lighting, air circulation, hen handling and more.

 

 

 

Cristhian

How much space is required for a hen in a free-run (aviary) housing system?  How many hens do you have in a barn?

EFA
EFA

Hen housing density requirements are included in our mandatory provincial Animal Care Policy.  In a free-run aviary housing system, birds must be provided a minimum of 144 (white birds) / 172.8 (brown birds) square inches per bird, when sufficient perch space is provided.  The total number of birds is dependent on the size of the barn.

Haylee

What is the egg industry’s opinion on backyard chicken coops?

EFA
EFA

There is definitely a lot more involved with raising hens than most people realize.  Egg farmers have to maximize animal care and hen health, manage their barn to ensure that Canada’s world-class food quality & safety standards are maintained, and worry about minimizing their environmental footprint.  Albertans living in rural areas are allowed to raise up to 300 hens and we do have resources available!  Check our website for more information about our Youth Development Program and New Entrant Program!

David

How many eggs does a hen lay a year?

EFA
EFA

On average, a hen lays about 300 eggs per year.

Lori

I like the idea of washing eggs in water with a bit of dishwashing liquid and drying them with paper towels, just before using them in cooking.  Is this OK, or is it wrong?

EFA
EFA

All eggs sold at retail are washed and sanitized at grading stations that have been certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Eggs also have a protective layer that your washing could remove. Since you’ll likely be cracking the eggs or boiling them in the shell, washing them seems unnecessary, but it’s certainly not wrong to do so. Click here to find out more about grading stations.

Judith

Are most eggs produced in Alberta in battery farms?

EFA
EFA

Alberta egg farmers are free to raise their hens in a variety of hen housing systems, which includes conventional housing, furnished housing, free-run housing and free-range housing.  In 2013, EFA adopted a policy which states that “no new conventional or enrichable cage systems will be allowed to be installed in Alberta after December 31, 2014”.  About 85% of Alberta eggs currently come from hens raised in conventional housing, a number that continues to decline.

Ishtar

Do you debeak the chicks without anesthetic?

EFA
EFA

At the hatchery, day-old chicks receive infrared beak treatment, in accordance with the Canadian egg industry’s recommended Code of Practice and national Animal Care Program.

Chelsey

What’s the health benefits of free range eggs vs caged eggs?

EFA
EFA

The hen housing system does not affect the flavor, quality or nutritional value of the eggs.  Purchasing eggs based on the type of hen housing system the hens who laid them were raised in, is entirely a personal choice, and Alberta egg farmers are happy to provide Albertans with a wide variety of eggs to choose from.

Jen

As I understand it, eggs are unfertilised and not a chick that was stopped from making it to “full term”, right?

EFA
EFA

Just like humans, both a rooster and hen are required to create a baby chick.  That’s why egg farmers only raise hens (female chickens), to eliminate the risk of fertilization.

Michelle

Do you still put arsenic in your feed, even after knowing the pervasive cancer causing properties?

EFA
EFA

Alberta egg farmers work with nutrition specialists to make sure their hens receive a balanced diet, which is vital for maintaining the hens’ health.  All Canadian egg farmers follow feed regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which have never included arsenic.

John

Is there a nutritional difference between white eggs and brown eggs?

EFA
EFA

There is no nutritional difference between white eggs and brown eggs.  Quite simply, white eggs are laid by white hens and brown eggs are laid by brown hens.

Jane

I have noticed that some eggs yolks are light yellow and others are dark orange. Are certain eggs healthier or fresher than others?

EFA
EFA

The yolk color does not affect the flavor, quality or nutritional value of the eggs.  Yolk color is entirely dependent on the type of feed the hens eat; wheat-based feed tends to produce lighter yolks and corn-based feed tends to produce darker yolks.

Bob T

How many eggs does a hen lay?

EFA
EFA

Take a look at the video below to find your answer!

Padi

My daughter took me to a trendy breakfast place and they brought me eggs that looked like they were a prop in a comedy play – they did not look right for Alberta in February at all. I grew up on a farm and we had our own eggs that were dark yolk in summer and lighter in winter. What is up with that?

EFA
EFA

The colour of an egg’s yolk depends on what the hens eat.  In western Canada, most hens eat a wheat-based diet, which results in lighter yellow yolks.  In eastern Canada, most hens eat a corn-based diet, which results in darker colour yolks.  If hens have outdoor access where they can eat grass, bugs and anything else they can get their beaks on, the yolks tend to be darker.  Farmers can modify the composition of the hens’ feed to help those hens produce eggs with a particular colour yolk.  Egg yolk colours are measured and some restaurants will only purchase eggs that have a certain colour range, to ensure the eggs they serve are consistent in colour, year round.

Do you have a question? Ask an Egg Farmer!

EFA and the province's egg farmers would be happy to answer some questions for you!

Fields marked with a * are required