May 27, 2016


This is an editorial I did not think I would write in 2011 when the newsletter was first circulated. Five years is a long time producing a weekly newsletter with as many as twenty items per issue.

EGG-CITE was conceived at a lunch meeting in mid-April while listening inattentively to a print publisher explain, why he was concerned with what I might write that would possibly offend his advertisers. The concept was wrapped up in my mind before coffee was served.

Over the past five years EGG-CITE has expanded to weekly mail-outs reaching 5,500 subscribers. The newsletter comments on events, summarizes and interprets industry statistics, explains the importance of current research, honors achievements by industry leaders and attempts to forecast future trends.

Along the way EGG-CITE has made friends, engendered support and in some case offended some when in conflict with their specific agendas. For them there are no apologies but an opportunity to post conflicting but responsible opinions for any opposing views.


EGG-CITE would not have been possible without the contribution by sponsors all of whom are responsible businesses with ethical products and services. They are worthy of support in their  efforts to market equipment, pharmaceuticals, additives and services which are beneficial to production, packing, quality, safety and marketing.

We are committed to the principle of never reproducing press releases as submitted by companies and associations. Claims are scrutinized through the prisms of scientific plausibility or sound business logic. Postings must be informative and stimulate thought. EGG-CITE will adopt advocacy positions when appropriate if it serves the egg-production industry and stakeholders. Criticism is extended on an equal-opportunity basis especially where bureaucratic overreach or institutional stupidity is apparent. We have also attempted to inject into postings subtle humor, admittedly ironic and frequently cynical.

The contribution of my associates is acknowledged especially my transcribers and our webmaster responsible for postings, artwork and distribution.  Their support has been invaluable.

As we look forward to the next five years EGG-CITE is encouraging more feedback from subscribers, anticipating more support for sponsors and extending distribution internationally. It must be remembered that by 2011 our Industry should have made substantial progress in transitioning from conventional cage housing of flocks to alternative systems.

Thank you for your support over the past five years. We hope that EGG-CITE has made a contribution to the egg-production industry and will strive for improvements in the future.  


Egg Industry News


Surveillance for Food Borne Disease Outbreak, the CDC 2014 Annual Report

May 27, 2016


The 2014 Annual report on food borne infection was release by the CDC in mid-May 2016.  8,801 outbreak-associated illnesses were caused by a single confirmed etiologic agent, 8 percent which resulted in hospitalization.  The genus Salmonella was responsible for 140 confirmed outbreaks involving 2,395 individual cases.  Including suspected infections which were not confirmed, the total number of illnesses attributed to Salmonella amounted to 2,563 cases or 22 percent of all food borne infections.


In assigning a vehicle of infection, the CDC noted four outbreaks or 2 percent of all events attributable to eggs resulting in 28 illnesses or 1 percent of the total recorded in 2014.  The report does not indicate the serotype of Salmonella associated with eggs.  The report associated seeded vegetable and chicken respectively with Salmonella infection involving 5 and 11 outbreaks which were investigated.  Combined, vegetables and chicken represented 584 cases requiring 91 hospitalizations and 1 fatality. 

In reviewing multi-state food borne disease in the U.S. in 2014, Salmonella serotype Enteritidis was responsible 115 illnesses with 19 hospitalizations across 12 states in 2014.  In this series of outbreaks, bean sprouts were confirmed as the vehicle of infection.  Reviewing the comprehensive table involving multi-state food borne disease outbreaks, eggs do not appear as a vehicle.

Further research will be undertaken to determine the circumstances of the four outbreaks attributed to eggs, both with respect to the serotype, origin of eggs, method of preparation and other relevant epidemiologic data.


Position Announcement

May 27, 2016


Weaver Bros., Inc -- Production Manager in Trainee


The Production Manager trainee is responsible for learning the areas of Egg Production, Vaccinations, Moving, and the Feed Mill.  Coordinate with management on all issues regarding production and personnel.  Collaborate with the staff as necessary to ensure effective and efficient operations. Responsible for all facets of Poultry husbandry. 



  • Care of Chickens through assigning and maintaining staffing levels and observation of birds daily.
  • Oversee day to day operations hen production barns, and monitor reports.
  • Understand all feed mill activity through the Mill Operations Manager
  • Responsible for accurate record keeping required for production of eggs, health of the chickens and safety of the employees
  • Manage and oversee proper loading and unloading of chickens in accordance to SOP’s and animal welfare guidelines.
  • Manage fly and pest control to minimize impact on the company facilities, operations, environment and the community.
  • Participate in the Safety training, and conducting internal audits.
  • Working with outside vendors for preferred pricing
  • After hours responsibility for alarms protecting the facilities housing the chickens
  • Participation in required operations meetings
  • Oversee maintenance departments including all mechanics and lead mechanic
  • Knowledge of vaccination procedures. 


  • Other duties as deemed necessary by Management


  • Strong management and leadership skills
  • Strong Written and Verbal Communications Skills
  • Self- starter, innovative, team player, results oriented,
  • Working knowledge of Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Ability to develop solutions to a wide variety of complex problems
  • Strong decision making ability
  • Proven success in managing a process toward the execution of company goals
  • and initiatives.
  • Attention to detail and record keeping


  • Prior Manufacturing experience
  • Public speaking and presentation skills


  • 4 year Business or Agriculture degree



Improved Marketing at Target

May 27, 2016


Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO of Target Corp. recently reported at an investors, meeting  that the company has introduced 1,000 new items and strengthened the Simply Balanced line into thirty more categories.

During the past quarter comparable store sales increased by 1.2 percent but with a 5.4 percent decline in sales value to $16.2 billion.  This was mainly attributed to the sale of the pharmacy and clinic business to CVS.  Net income for the quarter fell 0.4 percent to $632 million.


In commenting on results Cornell noted “while results in some categories were impacted by deflation they are also a reflection of a meaningful reduction from the reset of our center store grocery which was executed across the country in April.”  He added “despite the disruption this effort better positions us for success over the longer term as we have implemented changes to assortment, presentation and categories”.


Congress Introduces Legislation for Consistent Labeling of Expiration Dates

May 27, 2016


Companion bills on labeling as to expiry dates for food have been introduced into the Senate by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and into the House by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME).  The intent of legislation is to standardize federal rules for dating food labels.  Currently confusion exists over when food will be “at its best” or “will no longer be safe” causes excessive wastage.  The Administration has called for a 50 percent reduction in waste by 2030.


As with organic labeling, a uniform Federal standard is required to avoid a patchwork of state and local requirements which would create even more confusion and add to the costs of packaging and distribution.  Egg cartons bear an expiry date but in some areas, “best by” and “use by” dates are imprinted. It is noted that expiry dates range from 30 to 45 days in non-pasteurized shell eggs depending on jurisdiction.


Status of 2016 Corn and Soybean Crops

May 27, 2016


The USDA Crop Progress Report for Monday May 23rd indicated a continued favorable trend in planting in 18 states, expressed in the percentages in the table below:-

                                                                     WEEK ENDING


Crop                               May 15th                   May 22nd                        5-Year Average
Corn planted                      75                                86                                    75
Corn emerged                    43                                 60                                   55
Soybeans planted                36                                 56                                   52
Soybeans emerged               10                                22                                   21


The prospects for corn and soybean germination and early growth depend on adequate soil moisture. USDA reported data for 48 contiguous states which does not differ materially from 2015, as shown in the table below:-

                          Moisture Classification (%) for Week Ending May 15th.  

                V. Short                     Short                     Adequate                  Surplus
Topsoil       3                              12                             71                             14
Subsoil       2                              12                             74                             13


USDA Weekly Price and Inventory Report, May 22nd 2016

May 27, 2016


Midwest-wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large sizes continued their decline by almost 8 percent during the past week after losing approximately 20 percent in value the previous week.

The USDA Combined Region value for Large commodity eggs which lags the Midwest quotation by one week, fell 31 cents per dozen to $0.36 per dozen, compared to the 12-month trailing peak price of $2.77 in mid-August 2015.  The USDA Combined range for Large, lost 5 cents to $0.62 per dozen in the Midwest. In the South Central Region, price fell 30 cents to $0.42 per dozen.


The four-week trend suggests slightly lower prices (could they get any lower?) into June given decreased seasonal demand as noted by a fluctuating but rising stock level. The National producing flock is still down by 6 million hens at approximately 294 million. This figure suggests addition of about 7 to 8 million hens producing for both the shell-egg and liquid markets during the past seven weeks consistent with restocking. Older flocks were depleted following extremely low post- Easter prices. Over 75 percent of the deficit in producing hens as a result of the 2015 HPAI outbreak was recorded in the breaking segment of the Industry.

The market will respond to changes in availability of both shell eggs and breaking stock attributed to re-stocking, projected exports and cessation of imports of breaking stock from the EU.  


Small Mammals May Transmit AI

May 27, 2016


Experiments conducted by the National Wildlife Research Center demonstrated that rabbits and skunks can transmit low-pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) over short periods of time.  The experiments involved inoculating these mammals with avian strains of LPAI virus, holding them in pens and then introducing ducks which were infected.

Generally avian influenza viruses are transmissible to hogs possessing receptors to both mammalian and avian strains. This capability may extend to other species including small mammals cohabiting areas where free-living waterfowl congregate.


Although experiments and surveys may indicate that small mammals may be involved in transmission under experimental conditions their epidemiologic significance has yet to be defined, Under commercial conditions as in the 2015 HPAI epornitic wide-scale dissemination of avian influenza virus depended on the movement of personnel, vehicles and equipment between infected complexes with high numbers of birds excreting virus and susceptible farms.   

In any event acceptable structural biosecurity requires that houses containing flocks should be constructed and maintained so as to exclude rodents and larger animals. An obvious problem may arise with free-range flocks coming into contact with the excretions of both free living birds and now small mammals.


FDA Requires New Nutrition Panels

May 27, 2016


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will soon require that all nutrition-facts panels on labels and packages must list how many grams of sugar have been added and the proportion of  the daily recommended maximum expressed as a percentage.

The new requirement is a direct result of pressure by the White House in the “war on obesity”.  The Administration believes that it is beneficial for consumers to know how much added sugar is present in a food or beverage.  Health officials consider that consumers should not eat more than 50 grams of added sugar each day in a diet of 2,000 calories.  Currently the Agency estimates that U.S. consumers have a daily intake of approximately 35 to 40 percent more sugar that is prudent. This quantity is supplied by added cane and beet sugar, corn syrup, honey and other sweeteners.  Products targeted include soda, energy drinks, deserts and candy.


The new label requirements also include a revision of serving size since it is apparent that consumers are eating more of a food at a sitting. Levels of Vitamin D and potassium will also be required but the contribution to RDA of Vitamin A and Vitamin C will no longer be necessary.

The changes are due to be announced by First Lady Michelle Obama at an upcoming conference. The requirements reflect newer concepts in nutrition which regard caloric intake and specifically sugar as factors contributing to obesity while downplaying the impact of fat.


Kemin Opens QC Lab and Warehouse in Belgium

May 27, 2016


Kemin recently inaugurated a new quality control laboratory and warehouse complex extending over 150,000 square feet at their existing campus in Herentals, Belgium.

K.P. Philip, President of Animal Nutrition and Health for Kemin in the EU stated “This investment is one of the many ways we signal our commitment to our customers.”  He added “our part includes providing the technology, scientific expertise and continuous improvements to help our customers be more successful and profitable.”


Dr. Chris Nelson, President and CEO of Kemin noted “Our customers deserve the best of all the science and expertise we can bring.”  He added “In this case, the investments will enhance efforts around safety and quality by anticipating issues and reducing variability.”


Status of 2016 Corn and Soybean Crops

May 27, 2016


The USDA Crop Progress Report for Monday May 15th indicated a continued favorable trend in planting in 18 states, expressed in the percentages in the table below:-

                                                                     WEEK ENDING
Crop                               May 8th                   May 15th.                        5-Year Average

Corn planted                      64                                75                                    70
Corn emerged                    27                                 43                                   34
Soybeans planted                23                                 36                                   32
Soybeans emerged               -                                   10                                     9                  


The prospects for corn and soybean germination and early growth depend on adequate soil moisture. USDA reported data for 48 contiguous states which does not differ materially from 2015, as shown in the table below:-

                          Moisture Classification (%) for Week Ending May 15th.  
                V. Short                     Short                     Adequate                  Surplus
Topsoil       3                              11                             69                             17
Subsoil       2                              12                             73                             13


CME Crop Prices

May 27, 2016


At the close of trading on May13th CME quotations for corn, soybeans and soybean meal with values for May 6th in parentheses were:-

Corn (cents per bushel)                       May   384.0   (376.0)          July  390.6     (377.0)
Soybeans (cents per bushel)              May 1,055.6  (1,029.0)      July 1,062.6   (1,034.8)
Soybean meal ($ per ton)                    May    368.9  (338.9)          July   361.3    (342.1) 



  • 8 cent per bushel (2.1 percent) increase in May corn
  •  27 cent per bushel (2.6 percent) increase in May soybeans.
  • $32 per ton (9.4 percent) increase in May soybean meal.

For each 10 cent per bushel change in corn :-

  • The cost of egg production would change by 0.45 cent per dozen
  • The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight

For each $10 per ton change in the price of soybean meal:-

  • The cost of egg production would change by 0.40 cent per dozen
  • The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight

See posting on the May USDA-WASDE Report for an update on quantities and prices of commodities


Barbara and Simon Shane are on vacation in Spain
The image shows Gibraltar in the background

May 26, 2016

Barbara and Simon Shane are on vacation in Spain
The image shows Gibraltar in the background


Mother hen and chick detail from 17th century painting, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

May 26, 2016

Mother hen and chick detail from 17th century painting, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon


Shane Commentary


Unfair Criticism of Cage-Free Production

May 27, 2016


Egg Farmers of America represents a relative minority of U.S. egg producers intent on maintaining the status quo with respect to caged housing of hens. The Association has mounted a public relations initiative organized by their spokesperson Ken Klippen. 

Articles are popping up in agricultural magazines and newsletters the most recent of which was published in Ag Week on May 5th.


The National Association of Egg Farmers claims:-

  • The caged system is more humane than alternatives.  Given that virtually the entire egg distribution system comprising QSRs, restaurants, institutions, retailers and food service companies have committed to converting to cage-free housing by 2025, any unsubstantiated opinions on the relative welfare of caged or cage-free housing are moot.  The train has left the station and there is no stopping it.
  • Cage-free eggs are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria due to prolonged exposure from litter and manure in nest boxes. This is an unsubstantiated claim.  Approximately nine percent of U.S. eggs are produced in other than cages.  Since 2011 here have been no reports of SE associated with commercial organic or barn-housed flocks on slats or in aviaries.  Although there have been some cases of SE reported, these have been in small flocks under the 3,000 cut-off imposed by the Food and Drug Administration as designated under the Final Rule to Prevent Salmonella Infection.
  • Workers in cage-free barns will be hurt by dust which can transport pathogens.  This is a spurious claim since there is no data relating to environmental health problems among workers in barns with either conventional cages or alternative systems.
  • The cost of building cage-free farms will be too high for some existing producers especially ones with smaller operations. All business should set aside a depreciation provision to replace equipment.  Buildings and farms undergo both time-related and technical obsolescence and should be replaced at intervals.  The companies transiting to cage-free production have allowed a ten-year period although most concerns will require substantial progress towards conversion.  If some small family-operated farms find it impossible to market their product in ten years so be it.  Producers must always adapt and respond to market needs.  When cages that are now five to ten years old reache 2025they can be replaced by floor systems. Owners will benefit from increased unit revenue associated with a production of a non-confined egg.  They can either market directly to boutique stores producing either organic or cage-free product, contract to a larger producer or join a cooperative.

The consistent drumbeat of criticism of cage-free production from the National Association of Egg Farmers is disingenuous and self-serving. Promoting spurious objections to cage-free production represents some vain hope of a re-reset on policy of sourcing eggs over the next decade.  Simply disparaging cage-free production runs counter to the interest of the mainstream egg-production industry which has recognized the need to follow market demand and is responding accordingly.


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
Contact     C. V.

Industry Prices: Tue May 31
 Corn4.09 $/bu
 Soybeans10.56 $/bu
 Soybean Meal372.10 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer21  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 37-40  ¢/doz