Egg Industry Articles


Cargill Nutrition System Helps Egg Producers

Apr 2, 2015

Stacey Roberts, Ph.D.

Cargill recently launched the Cargill Nutrition System (CNS) a proprietary nutrient formulating platform. The CNS utilizes a combination of real-time nutrient analysis, nutrient application research and ingredient sourcing to provide poultry producers with clear data and applicable solutions to help ensure that flocks perform more profitably, efficiently and with enhanced sustainably. 


Innovative Products at the 2015 Midwest Poultry Federation Trade Show.

Apr 1, 2015

A number of interesting and innovative products with the potential to enhance efficiency and profitability were displayed at the 2015 Midwest Trade Show.


Ten Myths on GE Debunked

Mar 27, 2015

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam of the University California Davis debunked ten frequently held myths at the Pre-Conference Nutrition Session organized by the Midwest Poultry Federation preceding the 2015 Convention in Saint Paul MN on March 17th. Dr. Eenennaam is a geneticist by training but now serves in cooperative extension advising crop, livestock and poultry producers in her state.

At the outset, the term the “GMO” is regarded as ambiguous.  The USDA considers any recombinant DNA technique as elimination, rearranging, or introduction of genes.  Van Eenennaam prefers the term “bioengineered” or “genetically engineered” (GE) to describe any advanced biotechnology procedure which alters genetic composition.


Evaluating the Secure Egg Supply Plan

Mar 27, 2015

Dr. Karen Lopez and colleagues at the University of Minnesota reviewed the criteria for the Secure Egg Supply Plan at the 66th North Central Avian Disease Conference held in Saint Paul on March 17th.

The Secure Egg Supply Plan was developed through collaboration among Federal and state regulatory officials, representatives of the eeg-production industry and faculty at Land Grant universities.  The objective of the program is to allow movement of eggs from unaffected farms during an outbreak of an exotic disease such as highly pathogenic avian influenza.


Time to Reconsider Control of Resident Canada Geese Near Poultry Farms?

Jan 15, 2015

The realization over the past two years that free-living migratory waterfowl are significant reservoirs and disseminators of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has altered the approach to prevention of the infection in commercial flocks in North America and the EU. A potential problem may occur following cohabitation of infected migrant ducks with free-living non-migratory resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis). 

In 2005, Innolytics LLC, San Clemente, CA was granted EPA registration for OvoControl® G as a means of “contraception”- control of goose populations on golf courses, airports and on lakes and ponds in subdivisions. At the time these “resident” geese were regarded simply as a nuisance and a mild health hazard. Now we can consider them as a chain in the perpetuation of HPAI if they have direct or indirect contact with poultry, representing a far more serious situation.

OvoControl G is a feed containing 0.5 percent nicarbazin in kibble form to be consumed by adult breeding geese with an intended intake of 50 grams per day. Nicarbazin was originally registered in 1955 as a feed additive to prevent coccidiosis in chickens.  The compound when ingested by mature breeding birds interferes with the development of the vitelline membrane and eggs from treated geese do not hatch.

The use of OvoControl G was evaluated by Innolytics in cooperation with the National Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The EPA registered OvoControl G (EPA Reg. No. 80224-5) but imposed a number of restrictions limiting the use of the product. These onerous requirements effectively resulted in commercial failure of OvoControl G for a number of reasons. The product requires at least three years to reduce resident populations of geese in an area by approximately 50 percent.  This is due to the fact that geese breed annually over an eight-week period and have a lifespan of up to twenty years in the absence of predators.  This means that the product does not result in rapid removal of a population such as would be desired on a golf course or airport.


What the Omnibus Bill Mean for the Poultry Industry

Dec 23, 2014

The December 19th Washington Report circulated by the National Chicken Council highlighted provisions of the 2015 Omnibus Spending Bill which will fund the government through fiscal 2015.

Extracting data from “Congressional News” the following provisions relate to the U.S. poultry industry:

  • The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will receive a budget of $871 million.  Of this amount, $4 million will be used for the National Veterinary Stockpile which is an emergency fund to implement countermeasures in the event introduction of an exotic disease.  Other components of the budget include $6.7 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network; $52.3 million for avian health: $16.5 million for veterinary biologics: $31.5 million for Veterinary diagnostics and $28 million for animal welfare.
  • The Agriculture Research Service will receive $45 million to extend and update the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens GA.
  • The Agriculture Marketing Service will received $81.2 million to promote exports.  A provision of the allocation was that the Secretary of the USDA should submit recommendations for changes in federal laws to permit Country of Origin Labeling only in conformity with established International Trade Agreements and in complying with World Trade Organization Rules.
  • The Food Safety and Inspection Service will receive a budget of $1.02 billion to implement the Meat and Poultry and Egg Inspection Acts and to monitor the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

Layers 2013-Part IV- Organic Egg Production

Dec 12, 2014

EGG-CITE has previously commented on Parts I through III of Layers 2013 prepared by the USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System. Part IV deals with organic egg production, a small but rapidly growing proportion of the U.S. industry.

The sample comprised 86 farms although it is not stated how many of the owners of eligible organic-egg units who were approached cooperated in the survey.  The other factor detracting from an appreciation of the data is that no detail is provided on the actual number of hens held by the respondents and conversely those that did not participate.

Seventy-four percent of the 85 farms housed fewer than 30,000 hens.  Six percent, or five farms in the survey held more than 100,000 hens.  It is known that the largest USDA Certified Organic egg production units hold between 750 and 1 million hens. Neither of the two largest operations participated. It is accepted in the industry that five percent of companies in the U.S. representing a disproportionate share of the actual number of hens contribute to the supply of organic eggs delivered to the market.

Part IV of Layers 2013 attempts to characterize the structure of the organic segment of U.S. egg production within the limitations of participation. Only 7.3 percent of farms but understandably a very small proportion of the total number of hens, were classified as independent with respect to ownership and marketing. About 75 percent of farms operated under a contract arrangement with a packer or marketing company.  As opposed to the pattern in the EU, farmer-owned (horizontal) cooperatives involved 11 percent of farms although hen numbers were not stated.   

Approximately 76 percent of farms had only one house operated for organic productions and six percent had six or more houses. These represented the few in-line units in production other than the largest operations which did not participate in the survey.  The capacity of houses ranged from 1,000 to 30,000 hens over 90 percent of the producers.  The fact that seven percent of houses held between 30,000 to 100,000 hens reflect the disparity in size between the family-farm/contractor producers and the in-line intensive operations most of which are equipped with aviary installations.


Potential Advantages of Butyrate in Egg Production

Dec 2, 2014

Butyric acid is available commercially as a sodium salt, encapsulated to prevent absorption in the upper intestinal tract.

Butyrate has a variety of biological functions which include:-

  • Serving as a direct energy source for enterocytes
  • Functioning as a ligand for transmembrane receptors
  • Modulation of gene activity
  • Stimulating peptides that are involved in the immune response
  • Reducing intestinal motility and hence passage of ingesta, enhancing digestion of nutrients
  • Increasing the secretion of peptides which lead to enhanced proliferation of enterocytes for improved repair of damaged mucosa and increased height of villi.
  • Down-regulation of the Salmonella pathogenicity Island 1 (SPI-1) gene expression which reduces colonization of enterocytes.
  • Sodium butyrate has a positive effect on the composition of components of the flora that secrete lactic acid in the lower intestinal tract

Layers 2013 Part 1

Oct 29, 2014

EGG-CITE has previously commented on the first two parts of Layers 2013 compiled by the National Animal Health Monitoring System. It is reiterated that the survey comprised 328 farms of which 152 comprised more than 100,000 hens and 114 responding farms fewer than 30,000 hens.  The response rate for the 692 eligible farms selected for the survey was 47 percent.  Accordingly there are some questions as to the relevance of the survey especially with regard to large in-line integrated operations producing a high proportion of U.S. table eggs and liquid. Data as presented relates to numbers of farms.  It would be more helpful to also express responses as a proportion of total hens since 53 percent of the respondent farms had less than 100,000 layers.

The following points summarize the major conclusions for Part III dealing with aspects of health and management with specific reference to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE).

  • The proportion of flocks yielding Salmonella Enteritidis on environmental testing over the period June 1st 2012 to May 31st 2013 attained 1.2% as reported by the responding farms.  This compares to approximately 7 percent of houses with at least one positive SE environmental swab culture as ascertained from the Layers 1999 survey covering May 3rd to October 22nd 1999. The question arises as to whether managers of farms with known SE-positive flocks declined to participate thereby underestimating the prevalence rate. If the 2013 survey is representative there has been a reduction in SE among U.S. flocks. This may be attributed in large measure to the elimination of positive flocks since 2011 and implementation of effective control measures by the industry including vaccination, biosecurity and monitoring.

Company Profile - Henning Construction

Oct 3, 2014


Henning Construction Company, LLC. is a fourth generation company founded in Iowa in 1924 by Lars Henning, an immigrant from Denmark.

The Company has grown into a leading general contractor with a portfolio of single family and multifamily dwellings, industrial projects including warehouses, convenience stores, office buildings, hotels and agricultural projects. With 90 years of successful construction projects, Henning Construction has a great team of experienced Project Manager/Engineers and staff in over 31 states in the U.S. and in six other countries.

Of particular interest to the readers of EGG-CITE is the specialized capability in poultry house construction and in turnkey projects including feed mills, egg processing and egg breaking plants, waste handling and infrastructure.


Layers 2013, Part II – Consideration of Monitoring for SE.

Sep 26, 2014

This second review in the series assesses monitoring of flocks as documented in Part II of Layers 2013: Control and Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis on Table – Egg Farms in the U.S. The previous review of vaccination against SE was posted last week. Monitoring is mandated in the FDA Final Rule on Prevention of Salmonella

It is inexplicable why the regulations did not call for mandatory testing of chick box papers as a component of the program. This procedure is considered an essential first link in the chain extending from delivery of pullets to depletion of laying hens.

The following data extracted from the Report are noteworthy:-

  • Among the farms responding to the survey 47 percent sampled dead-on-arrival chicks or chick-box papers.  The remaining 53% may be at risk if chicks are delivered with SE.  Absent a first-day assay, infection would be detected only at the 16-week of age pre-transfer sampling.  On multi-age rearing farms, infected chicks which are not detected as positive, have the potential to contaminate adjacent flocks. This is a significant problem since there is invariably movement of personnel and equipment among houses on a multi-age unit.  If the pre-transfer assay yields a false negative due to the low sensitivity of the sampling procedure, especially in floor-housed flocks, there is further potential to contaminate a multi-age laying complex with detection only at the 40 to 45 week post-peak layer test.

USDA Layers 2013 Report, Part I

Sep 19, 2014

The National Animal Health Monitoring System issued Layers 2013 Parts I and II in August 2014. Part II Control and Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis on Table – Egg Farms in the U.S. is reviewed with specific reference to highlights which describe practices and attitudes prevailing in the U.S. egg-production industry. In view of the fact that Part II of the survey incorporates vaccination and testing, this and the subsequent compilation have been accorded preference in considering the data presented in the document.

At the outset it is noted that only 47 percent of 692 eligible farms participated in the survey.  Although this is a large proportion of potential respondents it does not represent a census. It is questioned whether non-compliance or non-response to the survey could have biased data and hence conclusions.

The report is a compilation of tables and histogram depicting the responses of participants.  There was no attempt made to provide commentary or explanations pivotal to an understanding of the situation in the U.S.



Response to SE in Chick Deliveries

Jul 18, 2014

EGG-CITE recently posted an editorial relating to the need to rapidly confirm the status of a flock when a suspicious or positive SE reaction is obtained on chick box papers sampled at the time of delivery. In the case concerned, the hatchery involved subsequently identified SE in a breeder flock which was responsible for vertical transmission to chicks delivered over a three-week period to a number of clients.


Doubt Over California

Jun 27, 2014

Dolph Baker, Chairman and CEO of Cal-Maine Foods, expressed the sentiment of the industry concerning the situation regarding California at a recent investment conference.

Essentially the Midwest states supplying approximately one third of California’s shell egg requirements (estimated to be 50 million dozen annually) are in a state of limbo. Since passage of AB1437 and issuance of the CADFA Regulations [(3 CA ADC 1350(d)(1)] there has been uncertainty as to the validity of the law and the enforceability of the regulations framed in terms of the California statute with regard to eggs to be supplied to California.

The Attorneys General of the states of Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama and Kentucky, and the Governor of the State of Iowa have filed a complaint to declare invalid and to enjoin enforcement of AB1437 and subsequent regulations. The law is regarded by the Plaintiffs as a violation of the Commerce and Supremacy Clauses of the United States Constitution.

Read the full text of the complaint at


Planning for Succession

Jun 6, 2014

In an industry dominated by family-owned and operated companies producing eggs, the advice of Dr. Damian McLoughlin on management succession should be of interest.  McLoughlin is the Dean of the University College of Dublin, Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. He has served as a visiting professor at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and is a leading consultant, author and contributor to peer-reviewed journals in the field of management.

In a presentation at the Business and Technology session at the 2014 Alltech International Symposium held mid-May in Lexington KY, McLoughlin noted that a CEO in a public company spends six years in the position.  In contrast, family-owned companies retain their CEOs for twenty years.  Although the average age of retirement for a CEO at a family-owned concern is 62, at least a third of the “retirees” play a role in all major decisions.  Only 20 percent of second generation management feel that their parents “view them as ready” despite training and experience.


Market in China Characterized

Jun 6, 2014

Dr. Mark Lyons, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Alltech Inc. reviewed the socio-economic environment in China during a presentation in the Business and Technology session at the 2014 Alltech International Symposium.

At the outset Lyons commented on the many misconceptions regarding China and its recent development.  He stated “clearly the world’s second largest economy is shifting from export to a domestic consumer market”.

As a resident in China for the past two years Lyons has acquired a perspective of the Nation, building on his previous work experience in Brazil, Mexico and the EU.


Controversy over NOSB

May 2, 2014

On September 13, 2013, Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program issued a memorandum to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) informing the group of a change in policy relating to authorization of additives to organic diets.

The NOSB is responsible for establishing organic standards and maintaining the National List of Approved Organic Additives and to specify exempted compounds and to revise procedures for organic production.


Research on the Microbiology of Housing Systems

Apr 25, 2014

Dr. Deana Jones of the Egg Safety and Quality Unit, USDA-ARS in Athens, GA. provided the attendees at the 2014 Egg Industry Issues Forum with an update on data obtained from an ongoing survey project.

The approach involved culture on aerobic plates and other selective media of swabs obtained from, shells, shell membrane pools, egg contents and the environment of the flocks housed. Inexplicably no data was presented on recovery of potential pathogens from either feces or the coprodeum of hens 

Three housing systems evaluated comprised a conventional cage unit, a non-confined slat and litter house and a free-range treatment located at the Piedmont Station, Salisbury, NC. concurrently used to conduct a random sample laying test.  Microbiological evaluation included identification of Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Listeria spp. in addition to yeast and mold counts.


EU Concern over Discounting of Eggs by Supermarkets

Apr 25, 2014

According to Professor Hans Wilhelm-Windhorst, Statistician for the International Egg Commission, discounting of prices in Germany by major chains is disrupting the EU egg industry.  In an article in Farming UK it was confirmed that Aldi and Lidl were using eggs as “loss leaders” selling below wholesale price. 

Windhorst claimed that once consumers become accustomed to low prices for eggs during promotional periods, it is difficult to raise price subsequently. This commentator disagrees unless market research shows that position of the Professor is valid. Promotions are usually for a short period and rotate among dairy, deli, produce and center-of-the store items. Any increase in sales volume, especially when the cost is borne by the retailer, is beneficial to producers in a free-market economy.


Advances in Genetic Technology for Continued Improvement in EGG Production

Apr 1, 2014

George A. Ansah Ph.D  ISA North America. Hendrix Genetics Inc.

The following item is a redacted version of the paper delivered by Dr. George Ansah in the Egg Production Session at the 2014 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention. The full text can be obtained from Dr. Ansah.