Years ago we used the same chickens for meat as we did for laying eggs, but today we use a specific breed to supply our eggs and the egg industry has streamlined production to make it extremely efficient. Craig Coufal is an Associate Professor, TexasA&M Agrilife Extension Poultry Specialist, and Program Leader.
“We’ve selected for birds that are, we like to say, lean mean egg laying machines. They don’t produce a lot of meat. They have very small bodies, but they’ve been selected for high egg production. That’s to increase efficiency. If you’re producing a bird that you want to produce eggs, there’s no use having a lot of excess flesh and meat that you’re not going to use on that bird.”
Coufal says that diet is important in egg production.
“Eggs are all one in the same from the bird. The only thing that changes what is in the egg is what the bird eats. So breed, or shell color, or housing, or anything like that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality or nutrient value of an egg. It’s all about what the bird eats.”
Coufal points out that storage temperature is crucial.
“A lot of people think we refrigerate eggs because we wash them. Washing actually has nothing to do with that. It has to do with preserving the quality of that egg because refrigeration slows down the natural decay process of the internal components of the egg. But if you leave them sitting in a chicken house for a week or if you pick them and leave them sitting in your house on the counter for a week, yes, those are going to be much lower quality eggs than if you put them in the refrigerator right away.”
And Coufal says that the industry continues to look for ways to increase efficiency.
“We’re decreasing the amount of feed that it takes to produce a dozen eggs. So through better genetics, better housing, better nutrition, better health management of the birds, we’re getting more eggs on a per bird basis.”