Ask an Egg Farmer: Alberta Egg Industry

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Questions

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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