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Maintaining top quality - Pennsylvania egg industry

Maintaining top quality - Pennsylvania egg industry

By Blake Jackson

Pennsylvania is a major player in the egg industry, boasting significant production of both conventional and organic eggs. However, maintaining top quality requires vigilance throughout the entire process, from henhouse to packaging.

Ensuring consistent egg production involves careful management, but proper handling is equally important. Eggs with defects like thin shells or cracks can't fetch market price, impacting farm profits.

Regular inspections using a candling light are crucial to monitor shell quality and contents. During hot summer months, shells can become thinner due to increased egg size and reduced calcium production in older hens. Nutritional additives incorporated during this time can help boost calcium levels.

Cracked eggs in the henhouse can be caused by structural issues like obstructions or even the presence of dead hens, which can cause "egg jams." The surface the eggs travel on also plays a role in shell quality.

Clean nesting boxes with regularly replaced pads are essential. Similarly, egg belts need to be free of debris and cleaned regularly to prevent stains and breakage. Smooth transitions and gentle turns on conveyor belts minimize the risk of impact cracks. Overfilling belts can also lead to stacking and subsequent damage.

Checking egg flats after packing allows for early detection of cracks that might have occurred during the process. Cleanliness is paramount, and dirty flats should be returned for rewashing.

Environmental factors also influence quality. Cold eggs placed in a warm environment will sweat, potentially staining unwashed eggs. Maintaining proper cooler temperatures and humidity levels helps keep eggs clean until processing.

Finally, careful handling during transportation is vital. Avoiding collisions with other objects while moving pallets and carts of eggs prevents damage at the very last stage of production. By implementing these practices, Pennsylvania egg producers can ensure their product reaches consumers in optimal condition.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-evgenii-leontev

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Categories: Pennsylvania, Livestock, Poultry

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