Dr. Piet Simons Publishes Egg Signals

Mar 24, 2017

Piet Simmons


Described as a practical guide to improving egg quality, this comprehensive and profusely illustrated book by a distinguished author should belong on the shelf of every participant in the egg industry.

Dr. Piet Simons obtained his baccalaureate and then a doctorate degree from prestigious Wageningen Agriculture University in Holland in 1971. He spent his entire career dealing with on aspects of poultry production at the Spelderholt Research Institute.

He has been a strong promotor of the poultry industry serving as the President of the World Poultry Association from 1991 to 2002.


His credentials include entry to the International Poultry Hall of Fame in 2008, receipt of the McDougall Gold Medal awarded by the World’s Poultry Science Association at their 12th WPSA Congress in Sydney and the Poultry Personality Award in 2014 during the VIV Europe Exhibition.  He serves as an ambassador of the Dutch Poultry Center and has been honored by the Queen of Holland for his contribution to world poultry and the Dutch industry.

Based on his distinguished career, it could be expected that Simons would produce an informative and educational text. This he has achieved. The organization of Egg Signals includes  formation of the egg, including the composition of the yolk, albumen and the shell. Successive chapters extend through production post-lay processing, packaging and marketing.

The emphasis of the text is on improvement of egg quality through recognition of abnormalities, diagnosis of possible causes and remediation.

Egg Signals is not a scientific text.  It has no references and it is written (professionally translated from Dutch) at a level which farmers, processing plant managers and those involved in the egg trade should be able to understand.  Readers will appreciate the illustrations with their captions, contributing to practical knowledge.  Egg defects are clearly illustrated and in almost all cases relate to causes encountered in production, whether disease, nutrition or mismanagement.

Egg Signals is highly recommended and should be issued in the form of a CD for wider distribution especially when translated into languages spoken by egg producers in nations where the knowledge contained in the text would have the most benefit.

Dr. Simons has succinctly compressed half a century 50 of research and experience acquired in both academia and contact with producers worldwide into a single volume.  We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his contribution.

Egg Signals is available from Roodbond  Publishers B.V. info@roodbont.com


Egg Industry News


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, March 22nd 2017

Mar 24, 2017



According to the USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol.64: No. 12) posted on March 20th Midwest-wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large increased by 25 percent following a 16 percent increase the previous week after coming off the lowest values of 2017. The progression of prices during 2017 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


The latest USDA Egg Market News Report documented a USDA Combined Region value of $0.64 per dozen delivered to warehouses. This price lags Midwest Weekly values by one week, and is compared to a trailing 16-month peak price of $2.20 per dozen in late November 2015.  The USDA Combined range for Large, in the Midwest was $0.58 per dozen. At the high end of the range, the price in the South Central Region, attained $0.67 per dozen. The current USDA Combined Price was approximately 75 cents per dozen below the three-year average. During the first Quarter of 2016 the average was inflated by the rise in prices attributed to the post-HPAI shortage of all eggs.

Hen numbers this week were thankfully lower by 3.3 million this past week but still at a high level relative to demand attaining approximately 310.1 million in production. Hens in lay have increased from 303 million in early December 2016. The total egg-flock comprises 316.8 million including hens in molt and small flocks. Generic shell-egg stock decreased by 3.8 percent demonstrating fluctuation in the ongoing imbalance between demand and production. Dried-egg inventory of 30.4 million pounds (13,818 metric tons) as of February 28th is extremely high, as is the National stock of frozen egg products at 41.4 million pounds (18,669 metric tons) on February 28th.    



Mar 24, 2017


Following a mutation in the H7N9 avian influenza virus, which to date has been clinically inapparent in poultry but infectious to human contacts, stronger measures will be taken to eradicate the infection. 

On March 17th the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) noted that targeted efforts are required to control H7N9. 



It is considered that the shift to high pathogenicity in poultry may facilitate surveillance and allow authorities to implement control measures including depletion of affected flocks. An obvious threat is the virus spreading from domestic poultry to free-living birds which will then become migratory reservoirs threatening the EU and the Americas.



Mar 24, 2017


Project F060 funded by the USPOULTRY Harold E. Ford Foundation has resulted in a candidate  recombinant ILT vaccine based on substitution of glycoprotein B into a lentogenic B1 strain of Newcastle disease virus. 


The project led by Dr. Joseph Giambrone offers the possibility of replacing live attenuated vaccine propagated in embryos.  Virtually all field outbreaks of ILT in commercial broilers are attributed to this vaccine strain.  A Newcastle disease-vectored LT vaccine would be apathogenic.

Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of the new vaccine is in progress. It is noted that a number of alternative vectored vaccines are under development and it remains to be seen whether the Auburn University strain will be commercialized.



Mar 24, 2017



According to a March 20th release, Aldi Sud the parent of Aldi USA will unveil a new corporate logo to complement the ongoing program of modernization.

The new logo is apparently in use in China and is expected to replace the existing logo in the U.S. during 2018.




Low Path H7N9 in Kentucky

Mar 24, 2017


Dr. Robert C. Stout, state veterinarian for Kentucky confirmed that a flock of 22,000 broiler parents in Christian County yielded evidence of H7N9 low pathogenicity avian influenza in routine per-slaughter specimens examined at Murray State University, Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville.

It is now apparent that an H7N9 North American lineage virus is the predominant pathogen presumably shed by migratory birds, given the frequency with which LP and HP isolates have been obtained from flocks beneath the Mississippi flyway in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.




Mar 24, 2017


On March 15th Dr. Vytenis P. Andriukaitis Commissioner for Health and Food Safety for the European Union announced a new Regulation which compresses 70 laws into 5 in an attempt to modernize and streamline European food oversight from production through to consumption. 

The Regulation provides a package of measures to enforce health and safety standards through the entire agri-food chain.


Dr. Andriukaitis of Lithuania is a heart surgeon by profession was educated in Lithuania but born in Russia in 1941when his family was deported by the Soviets to Siberia. An ardent anticommunist, he was the founder of the Lithuanian Social-Democrat Party and was the co-author of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. From 2012 to 2014 he served as the Minister of Health of his native country.



Mar 24, 2017


In a corporate release dated Tuesday 21st March, Land O’Lakes Inc., announced that it intends to erect an animal feed plant in Roanoke VA to commence production by the end of 2018. 

Beth Ford, Group Executive Vice President and COO of Land O’Lakes Inc., stated, “The Southeast region is the single biggest growth opportunity for our Purina animal nutrition business.  While the new facility is being constructed we will serve our important current and future customers from product made at our existing facilities and we will distribute through warehouses in Virginia and Kentucky”.


In November 2016 Land O’Lakes entered into a Letter of Intent to purchase feed assets of Southern States Cooperative.  According to Ford, “The Company is looking to move more quickly in the strategic market than the discussions which Southern States allowed”.



Mar 24, 2017


Josh Hawley Attorney General for the state of Missouri will continue to challenge the Regulations mandating standards for confined hens arising from Proposition #2 enacted in November 2008. At issue is the constitutionality of California law AB 1437 enacted in 2010 enforcing the same housing requirements on out-of-state producers who collectively supply one third of eggs consumed in the state.


Hawley was the prime mover of litigation brought jointly by Attorneys General of Missouri, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma filed in 2014. It was a contention of the plaintiffs that the California Regulations violated the interstate commerce provisions regulating trade amongst states.  Judge Susan Graber of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of California noting that the six states failed to provide evidence that the California Regulations negatively affected their states but rather impacted individual egg producers.

Attorney General Hawley contends that states are given the right to defend their citizens against potentially injurious regulations promulgated by other states and accordingly an appeal will forwarded to the Supreme Court.

The action by the Attorney General may well be moot since customers responding to perceived consumer demand are requiring all producers to transition from confined systems irrespective of stocking density to alternatives including barns and aviaries by 2015 or before.



Mar 24, 2017


The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE 17) to be held May 21st through 24th in Lexington, KY will include a Poultry Focus Session.  Dr. Pearse Lyons, Founder and President of Alltech stated, “For poultry producers we understand that innovation must be practical and profitable. 

Our Poultry Focus Session will facilitate open discussions about what is ahead for the poultry industry and we will drive the disruptive thinking that could determine long-term success”.


The ONE 17 Poultry Focus Session will include:-

  • presentations on in ovo techniques,
  • application of CRISPR/Cas9 in breeding,
  • slow-growth with considerations of sustainability and profitability,
  • disruption in Washington and the political landscape influencing the food chain, global trade and climate change.

For additional information access www.one.alltech.com/poultry.


USDA Projection of 2016 and 2017 Egg Production

Mar 24, 2017


The USDA-ERS issued an updated March 15th record of egg production in 2016 and a forecast for 2017.

Values are compared to 2015 which was impacted by the Spring outbreak of HPAI in the upper-Midwest.



2015 (actual)

2016 (projected)

2017 (forecast)

Difference ’16-‘17

Production (m. dozen)





Consumption (eggs per capita)





New York Price (c/doz.)






Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook – March 15th 2016

*Affected by Spring 2015 HPAI outbreaks. Consumption in 2014, 267 eggs per capita

Subscribers to EGG-CITE are referred to the postings depicting weekly prices, volumes and trends and the monthly review of prices and related industry statistics.



Mar 24, 2017


The North Carolina Department of Agriculture encourages enhanced biosecurity in a circular letter to poultry producers raising organic birds with outside access, Dr. R. Douglas Meckes, State Veterinarian issued a directive to move all poultry with outside access in to biosecure housing and to implement strict biosecurity. 

The circular urged monitoring of flocks for abnormal clinical signs or mortality which would occur following exposure to Avian Influenza virus.  The Mississippi flyway encompasses western counties in North Carolina placing poultry operations in this quadrant of the State at risk of infection.




Mar 24, 2017


On March 17th, Robert Lighthizer appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to be confirmed as the U.S. Trade Representative.  Lighthizer is strongly supported by food and agricultural associations including the NCC. 

He served as the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative with the rank of Ambassador during the Reagan Administration with responsibility for industry, agriculture, investment and trade policy matters. 

He has worked on international trade issues representing manufacturers, and agricultural companies focusing on facilitating international trade.


Robert Lighthizer

The confirmation hearing denoted the concern by Senators representing agricultural states that access for U.S. exports should be a priority.  They especially urged that negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement should not impact exports to either Mexico or Canada.  Additional issues such as divided responsibility between the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce should also be resolved.

 Ambassador Lighthizer responded to a question from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) stating, “I expect to have full statutory authority but will work collaboratively with both the White House and the Commerce Department”.  Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee cautioned Lighthizer that the Administration should not reconsider country-of-origin labeling.


USDA Confirm Second High Path H7N9 Case

Mar 24, 2017


The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed a case of H7N9 highly pathogenic avian influenza in a second broiler breeder farm in Lincoln County, TN. 

According to the news release, the flock of approximately 55,000 birds demonstrated elevated mortality and clinical signs and was subject to immediate PCR assay for the presence of AIV.


This flock, located two miles from the index case was depopulated.

Diagnosis was initially made by the Tennessee Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA.

The farm lies within the 10km radius around the index farm and was subjected to surveillance.


Tennessee State Veterinarian Warns State Farms

Mar 24, 2017


Dr. Charles Hatcher, State Veterinarian of Tennessee warned poultry producers to enhance biosecurity based on the emergence of H7N9 North American lineage, highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Dr. Hatcher advised owners of backyard and commercial flocks to avoid comingling birds and to interdict access to environmental contamination shed by migratory waterfowl and possibly other birds.  Dr. Hatcher echoed the advice of other State Veterinarians in 2015 to avoid fairs, flea markets or locations where birds are traded.


Veterinary authorities have emphasized that the H7N9 North American lineage strain of avian influenza is genetically different from the strain in China which has resulted in infection of susceptible human contacts.  The North American strain of H7N9 avian influenza cannot be transmitted by consumption of cooked poultry or eggs.


Cage Free Housing Systems

Mar 24, 2017


In reviewing equipment offered by both U.S. and EU manufacturers at the 2017 IPPE and at the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention it is evident that our ‘cage-free’ market is now characterized by five distinctly different systems each with its own advantages and features relating to density, acceptability by flocks, and contribution to performance. 


The most important considerations weighed by potential purchasers relates to acceptability by customers. It is indeed unfortunate that decision makers among the major supermarkets, wholesale-club and QSR chains have little experience in production. They are frequently misguided by self-appointed welfare experts or they misinterpret published or posted data. 

This may have profound implications for a producer intending to supply a chain based on a short-term arrangement but with a financial commitment to a system of upwards of 15 years.

Read the Full Article at http://egg-cite.com/articles/single.aspx?contentID=8963



Mar 23, 2017


According to Supermarket News, Lidl which will enter the U.S. market  will jointly generate sales in the region of $65 billion through 3500 stores by 2021.





Mar 22, 2017


On February 24th the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Marketplace program aired “The Chicken Challenge” alleging that Subway roasted chicken contained only 53.6 percent meat with the remainder comprising vegetable protein. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit in Canada are Grewal Foods with 2,000 stores comprising one of the largest franchisees in the Subway chain


The DNA assays were conducted by the Trent University Wildlife Forensic Laboratory.  Concurrently with the assay of Subway chicken, the laboratory in Canada claimed that tenders served by competitors to Subway contained approximately 86 percent chicken.

Subway immediately arranged for independent assays to be conducted which showed less than one percent vegetable material in samples of oven-roasted chicken and strips.  In addition, it was also determined that samples taken from competing QSR chains were in fact supplied by the same Canadian plant, casting doubt on the validity of the comparisons.


CME Prices

Mar 22, 2017


On March 17th at close of trading on the CME, the following rounded quotations for corn, soybeans and soybean meal were recorded. Values for corresponding months as quoted for the previous week are indicated in parentheses:-


Corn (cents per bushel)

May ’17   367     (371)

June ’17     375    

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

May ’17   1,000  (1,025)

June ’17  1,010    

Soybean meal ($per ton)

May ’17   328     (336)   

June ’17     332       



Changes in the price of soybeans and soybean meal this week were:-

  • Corn:                     May quotation up by 4 cents                    (+1.1 percent)
  • Soybeans:            May quotation up by25 cents.                  (+2.4 percent)
  • Soybean Meal:    May quotation down by $8/ton              (-2.4) percent)  

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 February 9th USDA-WASDE Report #562 for a review of price projections and quantities of commodities produced in the 2016 season.


Shane Commentary


Micromanagement of Standards

Mar 24, 2017


In discussions with equipment suppliers at the 2017 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention Exhibition it became apparent that there is considerable confusion over specific standards imposed by various welfare certifying agencies. 

It is appropriate to specify broad parameters such as stocking density, feeding space per bird and other quantitative requirements. Problems arise in over-specifying details of design which represents micro-management.

This possibly arises from the perceived need for certifying agencies to “out welfare” their competition. Approval of installations and setting standards has less to do with welfare than with generating revenue.


In one case, after payment of salaries and expenses, the excess is channeled back into activities which are contrary to the interests of the intensive livestock industries which these agencies purport to assist.

This is analogous to the situation in China where condemned prisoners have to pay for the bullet used to execute them.  In the case of one organization profits are used in a more benign manner to support other welfare activities including companion animals and service dogs. 

Irrespective of the motivation, micromanaging specifications is disruptive and adds to the cost of equipment.  A case in point is the diameter and configuration of perches.  Most certifiers require a round or rounded perch placed in a specific location. 

A prominent international manufacturer of aviaries has designed an exceedingly efficient perch which is not only comfortable for hens but also aligns the flock to face in a single direction to prevent fecal contamination of eggs and the area in front of modules.  This perch may or may not be acceptable to auditors based on the standards imposed by certifying agencies or in many cases the specific discretion (dare we say prejudice?) of auditors.

On evaluation, there appears to be little justification for specific requirements since these are not based on established scientific principles with experimentation at the level of a peer-reviewed publication.  In many cases the inclinations and personal opinion of individuals are adopted through a process of consensus by an Advisory Board. In some cases, decisions on specifications are based on EU standards which may or may not be applicable to U.S. housing and management conditions, climate and predators.

It is hoped that a more realistic attitude towards standards and specifications could be developed.  Over the next nine years more than 200 million hens will have to be re-housed from conventional cages at a cost exceeding $40 per bird.  This magnitude of investment presumes a level of knowledge and responsibility on the part of certifiers which transcends creating regulations in an academic vacuum. 

The U.S. egg production industry should establish common ground with equipment manufacturers and to speak authoritatively and forcefully on welfare, equipment and housing standards. Both ends of the transaction are being subjected to unjustified and unnecessary expense as a result of imperfectly defined standards and specifications. Ultimately shareholders and consumers will bear the cost of inappropriate decisions based on sentiment and pseudo-science.

As with all editorials and commentaries posted on EGG-CITE and CHICK-CITE, responsible rebuttals will be considered and posted if informative to subscribers.


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Tue Mar 28
 Corn3.80 $/bu
 Soybeans9.71 $/bu
 Soybean Meal318.00 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer62  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 78-81  ¢/doz