Eggs are gathered promptly after laying. In conventional cage housing, eggs roll directly onto a conveyor belt because of a slight slope. Immediate separation from the hen’s environment provides a cleaner, safer egg. In cage-free houses, nest boxes facilitate egg collection, minimize hen pecking and keep eggs from litter. The nest is covered by a flap, and the dark environment encourages egg lay.
Eggs on the conveyor belt go to the processing room, where they are washed and visually inspected. On most farms, eggs are handled by machines instead of human hands to decrease potential damage and exposure to contaminants.
Eggs go to the packaging room for inspection. Eggs are candled over a light source that allows defects to become visible. Flawed eggs are removed. Eggs to be sold are sized, packaged and stored in a refrigerated room.