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Want to learn more about egg production, hen care, the UEP Certified program or egg quality and safety? We’ve got answers.

  • Hen Care & Egg Production
  • UEP Certified Logo and Guidelines
  • Egg Quality & Safety
What are the different types of housing for hens?

Hens may be housed in a number of different environments. Regardless of housing, ensuring the health and well-being of all hens is a top priority for U.S. egg farmers, and the nutrient content of eggs remains the same. Some hen housing examples include:

  • Conventional cage housing has been the preferred method for egg production since the 1960s both for its improvements to hen welfare and egg safety.
  • In cage-free aviary systems, hens are housed indoors, but are able to move about the barn within defined sections.
  • Enriched colony housing gives hens twice the space as conventional cages and allows them to exhibit more natural behaviors.
What is the difference between conventional and cage-free eggs?

There are no nutritional or food safety differences between eggs produced in cage-free or conventional houses. The labels refer to the housing environment where the hens live and produce eggs. When managed properly, all production environments (conventional, enriched cage, cage-free and organic/free range) provide safe, nutritious, quality eggs.

How does organic production differ from conventional egg production?

Organic eggs are produced by hens that receive a diet of organic feedstuffs and special treatment.  For more information on production guidelines for organic eggs, visit USDA’s National Organic Program.

Do egg farmers feed their hens with hormones?

No, growth hormones are never fed to pullets (younger hens) being grown to be egg-laying hens nor during the egg-laying period. Hens are fed high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet made up of mostly corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. The feed is carefully formulated with the proper nutrients to produce quality eggs.

Are antibiotics given to egg-laying hens?

Egg farmers are committed to producing safe, high-quality eggs and keeping their hens healthy and free from disease. Egg farms may use a limited number of FDA-approved antibiotics, provided they comply with FDA guidelines for usage. These FDA regulations also are designed to assure antibiotic residues are not passed to eggs.

Due to the effective use of vaccines and on-farm disease prevention, only a small percentage of egg-laying flocks ever receive antibiotics. If they do, it is usually under supervision of a veterinarian and only for a short time to treat a specific disease or to prevent a recurring disease.

It’s important to know eggs can only be labeled as antibiotic-free if egg farmers choose not to use any antibiotics in feed or water as the pullets (young hens) are growing or when hens are laying eggs. Certified organic eggs must be antibiotic-free by regulation.

What is the carbon footprint of egg production?

Farmers are concerned about our natural resources, and they work hard to be responsible stewards of land, water and energy. Today’s egg farms use water and arable cropland more efficiently, while using less fuel, compared to farms 50 years ago.

A study by the Egg Industry Center details how U.S. egg farms have reduced their environmental footprint over the last 50 years through improved hen feed, better disease control and lower death loss, advancements in hen housing and subsequent reduction of natural resource use. This life cycle assessment found that 2010 egg production had 71% lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1960. In 2010, 32% less water is used to produce a dozen eggs versus 1960. And using 1960 technology to produce today’s supply of eggs would require 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million additional acres of soybeans.

Additional research by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply evaluated the environmental and other impacts of different hen housing systems. This comprehensive research showed current conventional cage houses have improved natural resource efficiency compared to cage-free houses.

Are eggs GMO-free?

According to USDA, eggs are not a genetically modified (GM), or bioengineered, food. This includes shell eggs and eggs used for processed egg products. Even if a hen eats bioengineered corn and soybeans in her feed, none of the genetic materials from the corn or soybeans passes through to the egg.

How often does a hen lay an egg?

It takes about 25 hours from ovulation until a hen lays an egg. The hen then begins forming another egg 30 minutes after it lays an egg.

What is beak-conditioning and beak-trimming?
UEP Certified has guidelines for beak conditioning or trimming for cage and cage-free production only when necessary to prevent feather pecking and improve animal well-being. When beak management is necessary for hen well-being, it is done by properly-trained personnel using procedures approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Only a few millimeters are trimmed from the beak of each bird. Reasons for beak trimming include reduced pecking, reduced feather pulling, better feather condition, less fearfulness, less nervousness, less chronic stress and decreased mortality.

Learn more with this video on beak treatment from the Coalition for Sustainable Animal Agriculture.

What does the United Egg Producers Certified logo on egg cartons signify?

The UEP Certified logo identifies eggs in the marketplace as having been produced by UEP Certified farms. The UEP Certified logo signifies that the hens that laid the eggs were raised under science-based animal well-being guidelines, and compliance is audited annually by third-party inspectors. The UEP Certified logo appears on a number of egg brands, as a majority of egg farms across the U.S. voluntarily participate in this program.

Is UEP Certified a brand of eggs?

No, the UEP Certified logo signifies that the hens that laid the egg were raised under certain animal well-being guidelines. Many different brands of eggs may be UEP Certified.

I have a problem with UEP Certified eggs. How do I request a refund or exchange?

For a refund or exchange, contact the retailer where the eggs were purchased. The UEP Certified logo appears on a number of egg brands, as a majority of egg farms across the U.S. voluntarily participate.

What do the UEP Certified guidelines require egg farms to do?

UEP Certified guidelines require egg farmers to provide:

  • Annual compliance audit conducted by independent third-party inspectors.
  • Hens are provided adequate space based on scientific recommendations.
  • Nutritious feed, clean water and fresh air at all times.
  • Daily monitoring of the flock to ensure hen wellbeing.
  • Space for nests and perches in cage-free houses.
  • All employees are trained to treat birds with care at all times.
  • All employees sign a code of conduct for proper animal handling signed by trained employees.
  • Strict biosecurity measures to protect food safety and hen health.

For more information, view the complete UEP guidelines here.

How does UEP determine how the UEP Certified guidelines are developed?

UEP Certified was launched in 2002 as science-based animal well-being standards based on recommendations from an independent and unpaid Scientific Advisory Committee. UEP continues to convene this committee to evaluate hen well-being standards, review existing research, conduct new research and recommend best practices. The UEP Certified guidelines were last updated in 2016.

What do egg farmers do on their farm to ensure eggs remain safe?

Egg farms follow strict guidelines to produce safe, healthy eggs. Hens are provided veterinary care, a balanced diet and constant access to fresh water, so they stay healthy and produce quality eggs. Rigorous biosecurity and cleaning procedures are implemented on farms to help prevent disease, and eggs are gathered promptly to provide a cleaner, safer egg. In the processing room on the farm, eggs are sanitized through washing with 110-115°F water and spray jets, brushes, warm detergent solution remove contaminants. Through the process, eggs are handled by machines instead of human hands to decrease potential damage and exposure to contaminants. Eggs are required to be refrigerated within 36 hours of lay, and they stay refrigerated through transportation to stores and restaurants. For more information on farm safety measures visit the Egg Safety Center.

What steps are taken after eggs leave the farm to ensure egg safety?

Eggs are taken to the egg processing room within hours after being laid. In the processing room they are visually inspected and graded for packaging. To view all the steps from the farm to the table that keep eggs safe, visit the Egg Farm Tour

What do the USDA grades mean?

The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight (size) under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. Compliance with quality standards, grades, and weights is monitored by USDA. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service. These cartons normally will bear a term such as “Grade A” on their cartons without the USDA shield.

Where can I go to find information on safely handling, storing and cooking eggs?

The Egg Safety Center provides information on egg storage and handling, appearance of eggs relative to egg safety, tips on safe preparation and cooking of eggs, and more.

How soon are eggs shipped to stores and restaurants?

Eggs are shipped off the farm, typically within a week of being laid. They are transported in refrigerated trucks to stores and restaurants.

What causes salmonella in eggs?

Salmonella are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed, and in rare cases, it may be inside the egg if the hen was infected prior to egg laying. For more go to Egg Safety Center.

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What are the different types of housing for hens?

Hens may be housed in a number of different environments. Regardless of housing, ensuring the health and well-being of all hens is a top priority for U.S. egg farmers, and the nutrient content of eggs remains the same. Some hen housing examples include:

  • Conventional cage housing has been the preferred method for egg production since the 1960s both for its improvements to hen welfare and egg safety.
  • In cage-free aviary systems, hens are housed indoors, but are able to move about the barn within defined sections.
  • Enriched colony housing gives hens twice the space as conventional cages and allows them to exhibit more natural behaviors.
What is the difference between conventional and cage-free eggs?

There are no nutritional or food safety differences between eggs produced in cage-free or conventional houses. The labels refer to the housing environment where the hens live and produce eggs. When managed properly, all production environments (conventional, enriched cage, cage-free and organic/free range) provide safe, nutritious, quality eggs.

How does organic production differ from conventional egg production?

Organic eggs are produced by hens that receive a diet of organic feedstuffs and special treatment.  For more information on production guidelines for organic eggs, visit USDA’s National Organic Program.

Do egg farmers feed their hens with hormones?

No, growth hormones are never fed to pullets (younger hens) being grown to be egg-laying hens nor during the egg-laying period. Hens are fed high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet made up of mostly corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. The feed is carefully formulated with the proper nutrients to produce quality eggs.

Are antibiotics given to egg-laying hens?

Egg farmers are committed to producing safe, high-quality eggs and keeping their hens healthy and free from disease. Egg farms may use a limited number of FDA-approved antibiotics, provided they comply with FDA guidelines for usage. These FDA regulations also are designed to assure antibiotic residues are not passed to eggs.

Due to the effective use of vaccines and on-farm disease prevention, only a small percentage of egg-laying flocks ever receive antibiotics. If they do, it is usually under supervision of a veterinarian and only for a short time to treat a specific disease or to prevent a recurring disease.

It’s important to know eggs can only be labeled as antibiotic-free if egg farmers choose not to use any antibiotics in feed or water as the pullets (young hens) are growing or when hens are laying eggs. Certified organic eggs must be antibiotic-free by regulation.

What is the carbon footprint of egg production?

Farmers are concerned about our natural resources, and they work hard to be responsible stewards of land, water and energy. Today’s egg farms use water and arable cropland more efficiently, while using less fuel, compared to farms 50 years ago.

A study by the Egg Industry Center details how U.S. egg farms have reduced their environmental footprint over the last 50 years through improved hen feed, better disease control and lower death loss, advancements in hen housing and subsequent reduction of natural resource use. This life cycle assessment found that 2010 egg production had 71% lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1960. In 2010, 32% less water is used to produce a dozen eggs versus 1960. And using 1960 technology to produce today’s supply of eggs would require 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million additional acres of soybeans.

Additional research by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply evaluated the environmental and other impacts of different hen housing systems. This comprehensive research showed current conventional cage houses have improved natural resource efficiency compared to cage-free houses.

Are eggs GMO-free?

According to USDA, eggs are not a genetically modified (GM), or bioengineered, food. This includes shell eggs and eggs used for processed egg products. Even if a hen eats bioengineered corn and soybeans in her feed, none of the genetic materials from the corn or soybeans passes through to the egg.

How often does a hen lay an egg?

It takes about 25 hours from ovulation until a hen lays an egg. The hen then begins forming another egg 30 minutes after it lays an egg.

What is beak-conditioning and beak-trimming?
UEP Certified has guidelines for beak conditioning or trimming for cage and cage-free production only when necessary to prevent feather pecking and improve animal well-being. When beak management is necessary for hen well-being, it is done by properly-trained personnel using procedures approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Only a few millimeters are trimmed from the beak of each bird. Reasons for beak trimming include reduced pecking, reduced feather pulling, better feather condition, less fearfulness, less nervousness, less chronic stress and decreased mortality.

Learn more with this video on beak treatment from the Coalition for Sustainable Animal Agriculture.

What does the United Egg Producers Certified logo on egg cartons signify?

The UEP Certified logo identifies eggs in the marketplace as having been produced by UEP Certified farms. The UEP Certified logo signifies that the hens that laid the eggs were raised under science-based animal well-being guidelines, and compliance is audited annually by third-party inspectors. The UEP Certified logo appears on a number of egg brands, as a majority of egg farms across the U.S. voluntarily participate in this program.

Is UEP Certified a brand of eggs?

No, the UEP Certified logo signifies that the hens that laid the egg were raised under certain animal well-being guidelines. Many different brands of eggs may be UEP Certified.

I have a problem with UEP Certified eggs. How do I request a refund or exchange?

For a refund or exchange, contact the retailer where the eggs were purchased. The UEP Certified logo appears on a number of egg brands, as a majority of egg farms across the U.S. voluntarily participate.

What do the UEP Certified guidelines require egg farms to do?

UEP Certified guidelines require egg farmers to provide:

  • Annual compliance audit conducted by independent third-party inspectors.
  • Hens are provided adequate space based on scientific recommendations.
  • Nutritious feed, clean water and fresh air at all times.
  • Daily monitoring of the flock to ensure hen wellbeing.
  • Space for nests and perches in cage-free houses.
  • All employees are trained to treat birds with care at all times.
  • All employees sign a code of conduct for proper animal handling signed by trained employees.
  • Strict biosecurity measures to protect food safety and hen health.

For more information, view the complete UEP guidelines here.

How does UEP determine how the UEP Certified guidelines are developed?

UEP Certified was launched in 2002 as science-based animal well-being standards based on recommendations from an independent and unpaid Scientific Advisory Committee. UEP continues to convene this committee to evaluate hen well-being standards, review existing research, conduct new research and recommend best practices. The UEP Certified guidelines were last updated in 2016.

What do egg farmers do on their farm to ensure eggs remain safe?

Egg farms follow strict guidelines to produce safe, healthy eggs. Hens are provided veterinary care, a balanced diet and constant access to fresh water, so they stay healthy and produce quality eggs. Rigorous biosecurity and cleaning procedures are implemented on farms to help prevent disease, and eggs are gathered promptly to provide a cleaner, safer egg. In the processing room on the farm, eggs are sanitized through washing with 110-115°F water and spray jets, brushes, warm detergent solution remove contaminants. Through the process, eggs are handled by machines instead of human hands to decrease potential damage and exposure to contaminants. Eggs are required to be refrigerated within 36 hours of lay, and they stay refrigerated through transportation to stores and restaurants. For more information on farm safety measures visit the Egg Safety Center.

What steps are taken after eggs leave the farm to ensure egg safety?

Eggs are taken to the egg processing room within hours after being laid. In the processing room they are visually inspected and graded for packaging. To view all the steps from the farm to the table that keep eggs safe, visit the Egg Farm Tour

What do the USDA grades mean?

The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight (size) under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. Compliance with quality standards, grades, and weights is monitored by USDA. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service. These cartons normally will bear a term such as “Grade A” on their cartons without the USDA shield.

Where can I go to find information on safely handling, storing and cooking eggs?

The Egg Safety Center provides information on egg storage and handling, appearance of eggs relative to egg safety, tips on safe preparation and cooking of eggs, and more.

How soon are eggs shipped to stores and restaurants?

Eggs are shipped off the farm, typically within a week of being laid. They are transported in refrigerated trucks to stores and restaurants.

What causes salmonella in eggs?

Salmonella are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed, and in rare cases, it may be inside the egg if the hen was infected prior to egg laying. For more go to Egg Safety Center.

Wonder about safe handling or preparation of eggs? How long are eggs safe to eat if left out of the refrigerator? What’s the best temperature to cook an egg? Find answers at the Egg Safety Center.

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