The Quietly Amazing Story of Eggs, Hens, Farmers and the Environment

September 6, 2019

The Quietly Amazing Story of Eggs, Hens, Farmers and the Environment

Egg farmers go about their business quietly, with a simple but focused commitment on continuous improvements in how they care for and raise their hens to produce eggs. This care starts with forethought into how best to design the system that egg farmers will use to house, feed and care for their laying hens.The goal of this planning?  Egg farms that are thoughtfully designed and constructed so that when the farms are in operation:

  • The laying hens can be well-cared for, well-fed, healthy and productive, yielding an abundant quantity of high-quality eggs at affordable prices.
  • The operation uses no more feed, water and energy than is absolutely required.
  • The manure the hens produce can be responsibly managed and recycled into highly productive uses like natural fertilizers for crops such as corn and soybeans that can again feed farm animals like laying hens, and do this with as little loss of nutrients to water or the air as possible.

The process of learning about and improving these systems never ends. Egg farmers are always working with top scientists, researchers, engineers and technical experts, studying their egg farming systems, looking for ways to make them better. When they find these improvements, the changes are incorporated into the next generation of egg farms’ design and operation.

The results of egg farmers’ care and commitment speak for themselves….

  • 50-year study….producing more eggs now than in 1960 but with fewer hens than in 1960 and a far smaller environmental footprint.
  • Manure management operations that
    • the U.S. EPA has called “zero-discharge systems” able to ensure no loss of manure or manure nutrients to streams and rivers
    • in the last 15 years are reducing the emissions of ammonia to the air by 40% -60%, or more. 

Farmers do this because it is the nature of farming – a quiet focus on solving problems and using resources wisely, efficiently and productively.

And what makes all of this so amazing is the scale – 90 billion+ eggs.

  • People in the U.S. eat eggs, a lot of eggs, and this means egg farmers have to produce a lot of eggs to satisfy our demand for this great food.
  • The government estimates that the average person eats about the equivalent of 280 eggs a year (either in direct form like scrambled or hard-boiled, or indirectly when eggs are in recipes for pancakes, cakes, cookies, pastas, breads, and many other foods).
  • And we are a big country, with about 330 million people living today.
  • Put that together and U.S. egg farmers are producing more than 90 billion eggs each year, raising and managing collectively a flock of about 300 million laying hens.

Care, commitment, seeking continuous improvement, attention to details, with a focus on caring well for their hens, producing 90 billion eggs, and doing all of this responsibly in order to protect the environment – this is the quietly amazing story of eggs, hens, farmers and the environment.

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