Today’s egg production is more efficient than previous decades and leaves a smaller environmental footprint
Source: American Egg Board
October 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the Egg Industry Center released a landmark study that shows that while the U.S. egg production has increased over the past 50 years, the industry has also been able to significantly decrease its environmental footprint. Researchers conducted a lifecycle analysis of U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010 to evaluate environmental performance measures for the complete lifecycle from crops to hens to the farm gate. Study findings indicate that the environmental efficiencies are the result of a wide range of factors, including the reduction of natural resource use, improved hen feed, better disease control, and advancements in hen housing systems.
“The U.S. egg industry has evolved remarkably over the past five decades by incorporating new technologies to protect natural resources,” said Hongwei Xin, agricultural and biosystems engineering and animal science professor at Iowa State University, director of the Egg Industry Center and the study’s lead researcher. “Egg farmers have improved their production practices, allowing them to provide an affordable source of high-quality protein while using fewer resources and producing less waste.”
Key results of the study found that compared to 1960:
- The egg production process releases significantly less polluting emissions, including 71 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Hens now use 32 percent less water per dozen eggs produced.
- Today’s hens use a little over half the amount of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
- At the same time, today’s hens produce 27 percent more eggs per day and are living longer.
A Closer Look at the Findings
Due to increased feed efficiency, advancements in hen housing and manure management, egg farms now use less water and energy on a daily basis and release less polluting emissions. Every aspect of the egg production process, from cultivating feed to raising the laying hens, has led to a reduced environmental footprint.
- Feed efficiency plays a key role in reducing environmental impacts. Due to advancements in nutrition and bird breeding, young hens now require 48 percent less food during the rearing period than they did in 1960 and the laying hens have 42 percent better feed conversion. Using 1960 technology to produce the 2010 egg supply would have required 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans.
- Advancements in hen housing such as improved building ventilation, temperature control, better lighting, and a more secure housing environment, help to ensure that hens are protected from disease-carrying wildlife. These techniques have been widely adopted by egg farmers across the country, leading to healthier hens with a lower mortality and higher rate of egg production. In addition, advancements in the development of preventative medicine to eliminate avian diseases have greatly improved hen health.
- Manure management has played a role in minimizing the egg industry’s environmental footprint. The vast majority of manure from laying hens is recycled into crop production, providing nutrients for plants, contributing to healthy soils, saving energy and reducing commercial fertilizer use.
With the growing U.S. population and egg demand on the rise, egg farmers play an important role in providing an abundant and affordable source of high-quality protein.
“The U.S. population has increased by 72 percent over the past 50 years, but efficiencies in egg production have enabled us to meet the demands of the growing population with just 18 percent more hens, while also leaving a smaller environmental footprint,” said Bob Krouse, an egg farmer for Midwest Poultry Services in Indiana. “Egg farmers are now in a position to help fulfill the growing need for an affordable and nutritious source of protein in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Egg farmers are dedicated to providing safe, nutritious food while maintaining the highest quality care for their hens. At the same time, farmers understand the importance of protecting the land, water and air for their communities and future generations, and they are always looking to identify ways for continued improvement. Efforts to further improve feed efficiency, hen housing facilities and manure management will facilitate even greater environmental footprint reductions in the future.
The study was funded by the American Egg Board, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the United Egg Association — Allied and the Egg Industry Center. To obtain data for 2010, researchers conducted anonymous surveys with egg farmers and collected data on 57.1 million young hens and 92.5 million laying hens. For more information, visit www.incredibleegg.org or www.eggindustrycenter.org
One of Sparboe Farm’s core values is supporting our communities. We do this in many ways, including financial support through our community relations department, employee involvement in community activities and initiatives and by donating eggs to non-profit organizations.
In the month of July, Sparboe Farms donated 23,955 dozen eggs.
19,800 dozen were donated for the Fill the Truck campaign with our customer Fareway. The eggs were distributed to 8 food banks throughout Iowa and then went to local food pantries nearby Fareway’s stores.
2700 dozen were donated as part of our monthly pallet donation to food banks in Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado. This program has been in place since 2006 and to date we have donated 2.2 million dozen eggs.
The rest were donated to organizations near all of our facilities. Some of the organizations include:
- Fire/police departments
- Lake betterment groups
- Lions Club, American Legion, VFW and Knights of Columbus groups
- 4-H groups
- Iowa Grocers Industry Association
Our donations enable these groups to raise money for their important causes, including supporting a school in Haiti, donating money to needy families in the local community, fighting disease and preserving lakes.
We are proud to be able to share our wholesome high-protein eggs with families in need.
Today the below message ran in the Independent Review – the local paper in our hometown, Litchfield, MN.
Finally, after another long Minnesota winter, spring is just around the corner. This week, bunnies, baskets and eggs are top of mind as families prepare for Easter. Eggs are always on our mind at Sparboe Farms!
At Easter, when many families are purchasing eggs for Easter activities, we make sure there are plenty of farm fresh eggs for our customers to color and enjoy. Our hens and employees work hard to keep eggs on grocery store shelves all across the Midwest and we appreciate our loyal customers who choose to buy local eggs from Sparboe Farms.
Sparboe Farms was founded in 1954, and like Litchfield, we have changed and grown over six decades. We support local businesses and employ over 100 people in central Minnesota. We strive to be a good neighbor through responsible farming practices and environmental stewardship.
Over the years, we have contributed to the Litchfield community in many ways. We have also donated millions of eggs to food shelves throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado through our monthly pallet donations. Organizations like Feeding America constantly seek egg donations since eggs are a wonderful, low cost source of protein.
Farmers today (including those farmers in the Litchfield community) are producing more quality food, using fewer resources than ever before. For example, in one year, the Prairie Farm in Litchfield produced enough eggs to feed nearly 1.5 million people in Minnesota. The manure from our farms is used as fertilizer for local crops, and in turn, we buy our chicken feed from a local mill.
Our commitment to Litchfield is clear as we reinvest in our Prairie Farm on east U.S. Highway 12, which was originally constructed 40 years ago. This multi-year, multi-million dollar project began in 2011 with the construction of a water treatment plant that treats wash water from our farm and our reinvestment does not end there.
You may have noticed that some of the original barns have been demolished. This is to make room for the first new barn, which will be one of the most modern hen housing systems in Minnesota. The new farm will have improved work spaces for our employees and enhanced housing for our hens. The renovations are being designed with best in class plans for food safety, the environment, and energy efficiency. We are very excited about these big changes at the Prairie Farm.
We want to wish you a happy Easter, and as you get together this holiday weekend, we hope you enjoy dyeing, decorating and eating eggs with your family!
President of Sparboe Farms
The link to the article is here