Ask an Egg Farmer

What questions would you ask an egg farmer? We queried our social media followers, and then posed their questions to our BC egg farmers.  Here are their responses!

 

Asked by karwa_ha, via Instagram
It takes a chicken up to ten minutes to lay an egg, but it takes about 24 hours for the egg to develop inside the hen’s body.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by 2Tunice, via Instagram
Once a bird is fully mature and healthy, she will lay one egg per day. As the bird ages it needs a “rest day” and will take a day off from laying eggs. After the rest day the hen will go back to laying one egg every day until it needs another rest day. As the bird ages the rest days gets closer together. For example, when a bird is young it might need a rest day every 20 days, and after time it might need a rest day every tenth day.

- Answered by Brian Pauls, of Pauls Group Farms

Asked by Stephanie, via Facebook
Because we collect all the eggs together at once, it’s hard to tell how many eggs any one hen is laying. The most we've had per chicken in one year was 330 for us, since going cage free.

- Answered by Mark Siemens, of Siemens Farms

Asked by Abuelitacaicedo, via Instagram, and by Eileen, via Facebook
Hens lay eggs from the time they are about 19 weeks old until they are about a year and a half. They produce the most eggs at about 25-35 weeks old, and start to lay fewer eggs as they reach 52 – 71 weeks. The quality of the egg also starts to decrease as the hen ages, resulting in a runnier egg white, and sometimes a thinner or more brittle shell.

- Answered by Jon Krahn, of Paragon Farms

Asked by Candy, via Instagram
You can eat an unfertilized egg as soon as it’s laid (once you cook it, of course!), but a fertilized egg takes about 21 days of incubation before a chick is hatched.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by Davoud, via Twitter
Feed companies have nutritionists on staff that formulate poultry diets to ensure the nutritional requirements of the flock are met. These diets can be altered for any number of reasons, such as stage of production or age of the flock. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets the guidelines that must be followed for poultry nutrition. Additionally, as an organic feed mill, we are audited by a certification company that ensures all of our feed commodities, vitamins, and minerals follow the Canadian Organic Regime.

- Answered by Darren Jansen & Jen Laughlin, of Eggstream Farm

& Canadian Organic Feeds

Asked by Melissa, via Facebook
Hens eat a balanced diet of mostly wheat, corn and soy.  Their feed also includes the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.  Their diet is formulated by a poultry nutritionist who gives them exactly what they need.  Some hens like to pick out pieces of corn or wheat first and eat the rest of the feed after.  Chickens only have about 350 taste buds, where humans have around 10,000.  So taste isn't as important to them as it is to humans.  They are more likely to pick out their food based in its size, shape and color.

- Answered by Jeremy Vaandrager, of Vaandrager Farms

Asked by samboboiambo, via Instagram
Most of a hens diet has no impact on the flavour of the eggs they lay, but there are a few exceptions.  For example, if we add fish oil or flax to the hens diet, it helps increase the Omega-3 content in the eggs.  Sometimes those ingredients can give the eggs a distinct flavour.

- Answered by Jeremy Vaandrager, of Vaandrager Farms

Asked by Marcus, via Twitter, Kklovestheoutdoors, via Instagram, and Johnny, via Instagram
All of the cage-free housing systems (free run, free range and organic) allow the hens to run around the whole barn. They've got access to scratch pads, nest boxes, perches and food and water, and can roam around the barn and dust bathe as they like. Free range and organic systems allow the hens access to the outdoors as well. Organic allows the most space per bird, both indoors and out. From a nutrition stand point, there's no difference between the eggs - the differences are in how the hens are housed, and how they're fed. Organic hens also get organic feed, and both organic and free range hens forage outdoors and eat bugs and grass they find out in the pasture. Sometimes the yolk colour differs between the different types of eggs and again, it's connected to the type of feed they're fed, and what other snacks they find outside.

- Answered by Scott Janzen, of Janzen Poultry

Asked by Joannstu, via Instagram
My chickens are organic so they are allowed to roam in their pasture for most of the year.  They are kept inside when the weather is particularly cold and wet. When they are outside they are free to dig, scratch and eat whatever treasures they may find.  They also have plenty of access to certified organic feed inside their barn.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

  Our hens are free range which means they are allowed to go outside and eat bugs, worms, grass and whatever else they may find. They are also fed in the barns a healthy diet of hen feed filled with essential nutrients they need for their well being and healthy egg production.

- Answered by Kevin & Rebecca Herfst, of Oakridge Poultry

Asked by Steph, via Facebook
Laying hens are somewhat like people, some are very outdoorsy, and some prefer to hang out inside within the warmth comfort and safety of their "home." In BC, the outdoor time of our free range and organic hens is regulated. We are required to have a minimum of 6 hours of outside access on an outdoor day. The age of the hens, the weather and the outdoor temperature all play a part in what makes for an outdoor day. During the spring, summer and early fall months the hens can easily spend 8-10 or more hours a day outside without any negative effects on their health or adverse effects on the quality of the eggs laid by them. For the first few weeks of their lay life the hens are kept inside so that they can be trained to lay their eggs properly inside their nesting boxes. This is to maintain the cleanliness and quality of the egg which BC consumers are accustomed to eating.

- Answered by Jeff & Jolene Bisschop, of Country Golden Yolks

Asked by Natalie, via Facebook
Nest Laid is a brand of eggs by Burnbrae/Island Eggs that is available in BC. The hens live in enriched cages (also called enriched colonies) which provides them with nest boxes, perches and scratching areas as well as nutritious food and clean water. Comfort Coop is brand of eggs sold in California. These hens also live in enriched cages and the farmers would comply with rules issued by the State of California.

- Answered by Jon Krahn, of Paragon Farms

Asked by Karen, via Facebook and Natalie, via Facebook
Younger hens don't consistently lay a large sized egg until a couple of weeks into their maturity, usually around 21 weeks. Fun Fact - chances of getting a double yolked egg are much higher in younger laying hens (18 weeks - 22 weeks old). At this time they are still “learning" to put one shell around one yolk.

- Answered by Jen Woike, of Farmer Ben's Eggs

Asked by Chris, via Facebook
There are no roosters on our farm. BC Egg egg farms only have hens. This ensures that there is no chance for the eggs to get fertilized. Also roosters are sometimes aggressive and have sharp claws - which isn't good for the hens, or for us! But the hens are calm and friendly and really fun to take care of.

- Answered by Krista, Cathy, Jessica and Barry, of B-Jack Farms

Asked by Barbara, via Facebook
Hatching eggs generally have about a 50% ratio of hens to roosters. Though, that may be different with the heritage or fancier breeds of chickens.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by Jaymee, via Facebook
Most breeds of commercial laying hens lay roughly the same number of eggs. But white hens do tend to lay slightly more eggs than brown hens.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by trbrown80, via Instagram
A large egg contains 6 grams of protein, and 9 essential amino acids, and a host of other vitamins and minerals and nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin. All for just 70 calories! Eggs are natures amazing little prepackaged morsel of greatness. Nutritious and delicious!

- Answered by Jolene Bisschop, of Country Golden Yolks

Asked by Karen, via Facebook
Definitely not! My family enjoys eggs every day! Although eggs are a source of cholesterol, the cholesterol in eggs has Definitely not! My family enjoys eggs every day! Although eggs are a source of cholesterol, the cholesterol in eggs has almost no effect on blood cholesterol levels. Unless you have a pre-existing health condition, an egg or two a day is perfectly fine. However, it is incredibly important how you prepare them and what you eat WITH your eggs. Instead of having your eggs fried in butter or with other high saturated fat foods like bacon, cheese, or sausage, serve them poached, boiled, scrambled or fried in a non-stick pan, with a healthy serving of vegetables and/or fruit as well as whole grains. If there are risk factors like diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol, the recommendations are not as clear. Because it depends on the overall quality of your diet, it is best that you should seek the advice of your doctor and/or a Registered Dietitian for recommendations specific to you.

- Answered by Katherine Archer, Registered Dietitian (not a Farmer)

Asked by dedoojune, via Instagram, Karen, via Facebook, and Natalie, via Facebook
Double yolk eggs occur when a hen’s ovaries release two yolks (ovums) at once. Younger hens are more likely to produce double yolkers as their bodies get used to the egg making process. Interestingly, fertilized double yolk eggs rarely hatch – there is no such thing as chicken twins!

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by Warkentinfarmkids, via Instagram, and Sheila, Tammy and Tally via Facebook 
The colour of the yolk is determined by the hen's diet. Certain feed ingredients such as corn will encourage a darker colour yolk, while a wheat-based diet will encourage a lighter colour yolk. Flocks that are able to free range on pasture will also tend to have a darker yolk colour due to the hens ability to forage naturally on grass, bugs, and worms.

- Answered by Darren Jansen & Jen Laughlin, of Eggstream Farm

Asked by Karen, via Facebook, and Helene, via Facebook
Nutritionally, an egg is an egg is an egg. Brown or white, organic or conventional, eggs of the same size have the same nutrition profile. The only exceptions are enriched eggs, like Omega-3 eggs or vitamin D eggs, where the hens have been given a special feed specifically to impact the nutrition profile of the egg.

- Answered by Katherine Archer, Registered Dietitian (not a Farmer)

Asked by Tiara Sue and Abuelitacaicedo via Instagram, and Andrea, Coralee, and Andy via Facebook
The colour of the egg shells are determined by the colour of the chicken.  Brown eggs come from brown hens and white eggs come from white hens.  There are some specialty hens that lay green, blue and even pink eggs!  Those 'heritage' hens don't lay as many eggs as our ladies though so you won't find them in the stores.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

Asked by brejam05, via Instagram and Andy, via Facebook
There is actually no difference between brown and white eggs. They are both nutritionally equal. The only difference is that a brown hen lays brown eggs and a white hen lays white eggs.

- Answered by Rebecca & Kevin Herfst, of Oakridge Poultry

Asked by Adele, via Facebook
Believe it or not, brown hens will lay only brown eggs, and white hens will lay only white eggs.

- Answered by Jared de Dood, of Okanagan Riverbend Poultry

Asked by Daryl, via Facebook
Brown eggs have the same nutritional value as white eggs. Unless the hens have been specially fed to produce Omega-3 eggs, or Vitamin D rich eggs, all eggs are have the same nutrients.

- Answered by Jon Krahn, of Paragon Farms

Asked by Angela, via Facebook
In my opinion, different breeds of chicken eggs do not taste different. Flavour of the egg would depend on the feed of the chickens. Although some eggs such as duck eggs and goose eggs are a bit creamier in consistency, virtually all bird eggs taste about the same.

- Answered by Chef Dez, author of "The Best in Your Kitchen" (not a Farmer)

Asked by Bianca, via Facebook
Eggs from a registered producer that have been graded could never be fertilized as there are no roosters on our farms. If you were purchasing your eggs ungraded or from a farm stand, they may have roosters and therefore your eggs could be fertilized.

- Answered by Jen Woike, of Farmer Ben's Eggs

Asked by Roxy, via Facebook
Even if fertilized, double and triple yolk eggs would rarely develop into chicks and hatch.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by Dianne, via Facebook
No, there are no chicken twins! Double yolk eggs, even if fertilized, rarely develop and hatch into chicks.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by Karen, via Facebook
When a hen is very stressed or ill, sometimes she will lay an egg without a shell. These are often called wind eggs and they generally break before making it off the farm.

- Answered by Jared de Dood, of Okanagan Riverbend Poultry

Asked by Tiara Sue, via Facebook
Commercial breeds like Lohmans and Hylines produce an egg every 24 hours. As soon as a hen lays an egg in the morning, her body starts producing tomorrow’s egg.

- Answered by Rob Martens, of Twin Willows Farm

Asked by Sarah, via Facebook
Most farmers start their days pretty early.  Typically I head out to the barn for a quick walk through shortly after I wake up.  I make sure that the girls have everything that keeps them happy.  Their food and water consumption is recorded and I check to see if everyone looks healthy.  Then it is time for a much needed coffee and breakfast!  Paperwork gets looked after over that second cup of coffee.  Next I collect the eggs and clean the collecting room. This fun job takes a couple of hours. The afternoon will keep me busy with any maintenance and other farm chores. Just before the hens go to sleep I walk the barn one more time and if they have been outside I make sure everyone gets back into their safe barn.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

Asked by Dawn, via Facebook
The best time to collect eggs on our farm is around 1:00pm. The hens are busy all morning laying their delicious, healthy eggs and by early afternoon the vast majority are finished. I usually head out right after lunch to collect all those beautiful brown eggs.

- Answered by Kristen Poortvliet, of Misty Mountain Farm

Asked by Tiara Sue, via Facebook
Most egg farms have carefully controlled access with strict biosecurity protocols to ensure the hens are kept safe from disease. Consequently, not many are open for the public to visit. However, there are exceptions! Some farms have a viewing room, where you can safely look at the hens without risking contamination, and others have farm-gate eggs for sale in a safe area of their farm that is accessible to the public. Our farm has a vending machine where you can buy eggs that were laid that day! While you are visiting our farm you can say hello to the hens in the pasture directly behind our egg shack. They are allowed outside most days, unless the weather is too cold or wet.

- Answered by Kristen & Willem Poortvliet, of Misty Mountain Farm

Asked by Kelsey, via Facebook
Our farm has 18,000 hens which gives us about 17, 500 eggs a day. Egg production and sales are managed by a Supply Management system which is Canada wide. So we are only allowed to have a certain number of hens in order to produce a specific number of eggs.

- Answered by Rebecca & Kevin Herfst, of Oakridge Poultry

Asked by Sacha, via Facebook
We definitely have many sneaky FARMER skills, mostly to help train our hens to lay their eggs in nest boxes.  The eggs roll onto a conveyor belt that actually brings the eggs to us into an egg collection room. Our ladies don't usually peck at us because they are pretty happy.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

Asked by Marcus, via Facebook
We have a nesting box system in our barn which is a dark private place for our hens to lay their eggs. For the first few weeks we train them to lay in the nesting boxes before they can go outside. Once the eggs are laid they roll onto a conveyor belt that moves the eggs into the egg room for collecting, sorting and packing. There is the odd time we find eggs in the pasture, but most are laid in the nest boxes.

- Answered by Rebecca & Kevin Herfst, of Oakridge Poultry

Asked by Shannon, via Facebook
Hens in the barns are protected, but once the hens are outside, predators are definitely a risk. Fences help keep out coyotes, but hawks, eagles and owls are harder to avoid.  A web of wires above the pasture helps, as it can prevent eagles from landing and from having enough room to take off again. But unfortunately, we always lose some hens to predators.

- Answered by Mark Siemens, of Siemens Farms

Asked by Melanie, via Twitter
BC has 142 family owned and operated egg farms. They are inspected twice per flock (which works out to about twice a year), and once a year for Salmonella testing. If a farmer has issues that require correction, there is often a follow-up visit by an inspector to ensure any trouble spots have been dealt with. The integrity of our farms is important to all BC Egg farmers. That's why in addition to the inspections, we also have a Whistleblower Policy. This means that anyone who has a concern about something they see on a BC egg farm can report it anonymously. The forms are submitted to our independent board chair and a lawyer to be addressed.

- Answered by Matt Vane, of Cherry Creek Farm

You can find the BC Egg Whistleblower Policy here

Asked by Mairin, via Facebook
It's pretty hard to tell the chickens apart in a large flock, however we have a small selection of pet hens to keep our goats company. These ones are most often named "Omeletta!"

- Answered by Jen Laughlin, of Eggstream Farm

Asked by Shannon, via Facebook
I personally enjoy just regular old sunny side up on my toast in the morning! And my afternoon snack of hard boiled eggs can’t go wrong.

- Answered by Jared de Dood, of Okanagan Riverbend Poultry

Asked by Becky, via Facebook
There are so many ways you can eat eggs, the ideas are endless. Ours would be scrambled and fried eggs. Check out thev2ray加速器官网: recipe page for many ideas.

- Answered by Kevin & Rebecca Herfst, of Oakridge Poultry

Asked by Rebecca, via Twitter
I've dropped a fair number of eggs over the years. You try to be careful, but of course accidents happen. With free run or free range chickens the hens don't always lay all their eggs in the nest boxes. Sometimes, you find a stray egg laid on the floor… by stepping on it! Eggs are pretty strong, but they definitely still break. Whether it's one egg, a dozen, or a flat, you just have to clean it up, and carry on.

- Answered by Scott Janzen, of Janzen Poultry

Asked by Kayla, via Facebook
We are winners of the 2015 New Producer Program lottery. When there's room for growth in the market, usually every few years, there's a lottery to give successful applicants a start-up amount of quota. The application process is quite rigorous, but it's a great system to get new farmers into egg farming. During the four years prior to winning the New Producer Program lottery we had 399 free range hens. We sold all our eggs at our roadside stand and quite often were sold out within a few hours! We learned so much invaluable information about egg farming and hen behavior from those early years of Small Lot farming.

- Answered by Kristen & Willem Poortvliet, of Misty Mountain Farm

Asked by Lauren, via Facebook
I never get sick of eating eggs!  Eggs are such an easy meal for anyone to make, even the youngest kids can learn how to make eggs.  They can be great even for dinner! I had some fresh eggs from brand new hens this morning.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

Asked by Mairin, via Facebook, and Jill, via Facebook
Chickens can be pretty fun but I don't really think they make great pets.  They do like their barn and their many friends. Chickens also can't really be trained to use a litter box or ask to go outside so I feel they would make for a very messy house.  I do get to know my ladies though and there are always girls who make themselves stand out in the flock.  Often they follow me around when I walk through the barn or grab onto my boot laces.  Some are much more friendly than others.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

Asked by r.k.kids, via Instagram
For chicken related chores, it's too much for me to do alone. Fortunately, I have family members and staff to help. Egg collection is about 6 hours a day and walking through and caring for the chickens in the barns is another 5 hours a day. On top of that we need to maintain the site, equipment, and barns. And keep on top of all our record keeping. It certainly keeps our family busy!

- Answered by Mark Siemens, of Siemens Farms

Asked by hongerb, via Instagram
We eat eggs every day at B JACK Farms. We have 2 families living on our farm so we collect the eggs every day and get to enjoy the eggs every morning. We eat about 60 eggs a week at our farm. Our favourite ways to cook the eggs are to scramble them or poach them. We often have eggs for lunch or dinner too. We love sharing our eggs with everyone around BC. Our eggs are fresh, local and nutritious.

- Answered by Krista, Cathy, Jessica and Barry, of B-Jack Farms

Asked by BreAnd, via Facebook
“Grade-A” means that your eggs have been checked by a grading station for qualities like yolk placement, the size of the air pocket, shell strength, and egg white consistency. If the eggs are “Canada Grade-A," then they’ve been graded at a certified, Canadian grading station. To know if you’ve got Canadian eggs, check the labeling! Any eggs imported from another country, like the US, have to be clearly labeled as “Product of…”.

- Answered by Jared de Dood, of Okanagan Riverbend Poultry

Asked by Curtis, via Facebook
Health Canada recommends cooking all eggs, and foods that contain egg, to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) to ensure they are safe to eat. Cases of salmonella infection in humans are rare. Egg farmers take steps to make sure the eggs are laid, collected handled and transported in a way that minimizes the risk of salmonella, but it is still possible. It’s always best to err on the side of caution in food preparation. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should only eat eggs with fully cooked yolks (such as hard boiled, scrambled etc). And if you are preparing foods which aren't heated (like icing, eggnog, smoothies, caesar salad dressing), it is best to use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs.

- Answered by Katherine Archer, Registered Dietitian (not a Farmer)

Asked by Shannon, via Facebook
Yes, eggs can go bad. In Canada there are guidelines we follow to make eggs and purchasing eggs as safe for consumers as possible. After eggs are washed and graded by weight at our grading/distribution stations, they are packaged in cartons or flats with a best before date on them. Eggs are to be refrigerated until used as they do have a porous shell. In Canada, eggs are washed to help eliminate health risks to the consumer, in so doing there is a required need for the eggs to be refrigerated until use. If an egg is past its best before date best err on the side of caution and toss it rather than eat it.

- Answered by Jeff & Jolene Bisschop, of Country Golden Yolks

Asked by Natalie Van, via Facebook
Yes, each country has its own standards. The idea behind each standard is to ensure the hens are well-cared for and that the eggs are clean and fresh. You can read about our Canadian Code of Practice for Pullets and Laying Hens There are a number of different standards in the US, but eighty-five percent of farmers are part of the United Egg Producers and they offer these standards, .

- Answered by Jon Krahn, of Paragon Farms

Asked by Lynn, via Facebook
Fresh laid eggs that have not been washed can most definitely be kept on the counter at room temperature for about 10 days. They will stay fresh longer if they are refrigerated.

- Answered by Rebecca & Kevin Hersft, of Oakridge Poultry

Asked by Doug, via Facebook
Canada is required under new trade laws to import a certain number of eggs from the US. But always check the carton. If your egg carries the Canada Grade A symbol and the EQA (egg quality assurance) symbol you will know your eggs are Canadian. Better yet get to know the egg farmers in your area, find out where their eggs are sold and support them!

- Answered by Jen Woike, of Farmer Ben's Eggs

Asked by Karen_hawes, via Instagram
You can tell if an egg is hard-cooked or raw by spinning it. A cooked egg will spin longer, as the liquid in a raw egg moves and prevents the egg from building up momentum. For freshness, try floating your egg! The older an egg gets, the larger the air cell inside the egg gets, making it more likely to float than a fresh egg.

- Answered by Kristen & Willem Poortvliet, of Misty Mountain Farm

Asked by Jenn, via Twitter
BC Egg are always fresh and go from being laid to the grocery shelves in under 10 days! Get to know the farmer in your area, see where they sell their in and be assured of getting the freshest local eggs!

- Answered by Jen Woike, of Farmer Ben's Eggs

Asked by Shannon, via Facebook
In North America, we wash the eggs as part of the grading process, but most countries do not wash eggs. While the washing removes bacteria and reduces the change of a food-borne illness, it also removes a protective coating from the egg. Without this coating the egg is porous and must be refrigerated to keep it fresh. In countries where the eggs are not washed, you can safely keep eggs at room temperature; however, they stay fresh much longer if refrigerated. The catch though is that once they’ve been refrigerated, they have to stay refrigerated – you can’t safely go back and forth between the fridge and counter for storage.

- Answered by Juschka Clarke, of Hazelsprings Organics

Asked by J, via Twitter
Eggs travel from the farm to the Grading station within days of being laid. At the Grading station the eggs are washed, weighed, examined for any issues ( cracks in the shell, unclean shells or a possible blood spot inside the egg) then they are packaged and shipped out to grocery stores and restaurants within days. Grading stations are audited, licensed and monitored by The Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

- Answered by Jen Woike, of Farmer Ben's Eggs