The Incedible Edible Egg

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Common Production Systems

America's egg farmers believe in consumer choice. We work hard to provide you with the highest-quality variety of eggs, no matter what kind of eggs you choose. Following is more information on some of the most common egg production systems.

Most egg farms in the U.S. run more than one production system. Almost all have both conventional and specialty egg production systems operating simultaneously – all committed to providing humane and nurturing environments for their birds.

Depending on your preference, you can spend anywhere from about $1.50 per dozen for conventional eggs, to more than $3.00 per dozen for specialty eggs, which typically cost more to produce.

Conventional Eggs

Eggs laid by hens living in cages with access to feed, water, and security. The cages serve as nesting space as well as for production efficiency. In this type of hen house, the birds are more readily protected from the elements, from disease and from natural and unnatural predators.

Free-Range Eggs

Eggs produced by hens that have access to outdoors in accordance with weather, environmental or state laws. In addition to consuming a diet of grains, these hens may forage for wild plants and insects and are sometimes called pasture-fed hens. They are provided floor space, nesting space and perches.

Cage-Free Eggs

Eggs laid by hens at indoor floor operations, sometimes called free-roaming. The hens may roam in a building, room or open area, usually in a barn or poultry house, and have unlimited access to fresh food and water, while some may also forage for food if they are allowed outdoors. Cage-free systems vary and include barn-raised and free-range hens, both of which have shelter that helps protect against predators. Both types are produced under common handling and care practices, which provide floor space, nest space and perches. Depending on the farm, these housing systems may or may not have an automated egg collection system.

Organic Eggs

Eggs produced according to national U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards related to methods, practices and substances used in producing and handling crops, livestock and processed agricultural products. Organic eggs are produced by hens fed rations with ingredients that were grown without most conventional pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers.

Enriched Colony

A production system that contains adequate environmental enrichments to provide perch space, dust bathing or a scratch area(s), and nest space to allow the layers to exhibit inherent behavior. Enriched colony systems are American Humane Certified.

Take a look at an egg processing plant.

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See how shell eggs become egg products.

OUR RECIPE OF THE MONTH

Egg and Goat Cheese Sandwich