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 Post subject: Egg Masterclass
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:58 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:15 pm
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Location: ACT area
Yesterday I attended (as a non Egg Industry person) an Egg Industry seminar. There was a great selection of researchers and managers representing the egg industry and I learnt some valuable 'stuff' from the other side.

It was interesting to hear about Hen Welfare from an economic rather than an emotional approach. It came across very clearly that good Welfare makes economic sense. Some figures were presented to show the detrimental effect of even minimal stress on short term productivity, and the effect of repeated stress episodes on long term productivity.
One of the stress factors identified was aggression and victimisation with a recommendation to remove the culprits from both ends of the pecking order - just as in other animals (humans) a natural victim will bring out the worst in other members of the pack.
Techniques for measuring stress include identification of the levels of specific chemicals in the chickens' blood/tissues (invasive and stressful) or faeces, but measurement of stress hormones in the egg albumen allow the effect of stress within a short time frame to be identified (albumen lay down time is about 4 hours).
The bit that I found less pleasing about this was the work being done to develop commercial strains which are typically placid (ie lack an aggressive pecking order). Ideal for the industry but will enhance the attraction of the (short shelf life), commercial birds, as backyarders
.
Beak trimming was another confronting eye opener. There are sound reasons for doing it in an intensive environment. The traditional 'hot knife' method can unfortunately cause permanent nerve damage - resulting in chronic pain or 'ghost limb' beaks. This will be phased out and be replaced by a laser method. The equipment and trained operating team will will only be available 'for hire' and is currently being used in Europe, with computer feedback being constantly relayed back to headquarters in the US.

The other area which I had never considered was the environmental foot print of intensive Free Range operations. In a shed system most of the manure can be removed and managed off site. On the range this is much more difficult, with the consequent build up of toxic nutrients in the soil. In a shed "what goes in can ultimately go out" On the range "what goes in ultimately goes down" and when there is a need to import food (no such thing as a self sufficient range) more constantly goes 'in and out', resulting in a soil nutrient overload with implications for regrowth and runoff.

Research is also being done into the success of existing commercial flocks when offered a range environment. Basically, what came across is that they have lost the desire or the skills to 'range' and currently need to be trained to face the Great Outdoors - those who have had rescued chickens could have told them that! Specific 'Free Range' strains may need to be developed if Free Range is to be economically practical.

Some interesting figures which caught my eye

We export 278 metric tonne of egg pulp/liquid and import 602 metric tonne
We export 2 metric tonne of egg powder and import 798 metric tonne

Commercial egg production (2015 cal. yr.) 434.6 million dozen eggs
Grocery Sales - pack size 12(dozen) pack 84%
other sizes less than 5% each


Last edited by sue55 on Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Egg Masterclass
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:31 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:02 pm
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Location: Albany, Western Australia
Interesting. Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Egg Masterclass
PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:54 pm 
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Great Game
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Location: West of Bendigo
sue55 wrote:
....In a shed system most of the manure can be removed and managed off site. .... In a shed "what goes in can ultimately go out" ....

Yes and disposed of thoughtfully - (or not, as does happen).

Would have been really interesting all round sue55. The 600 tons of pulp being imported made me feel bleerrggh - don't think I'll buy commercially made cake etc for a while now, the visualisation is yuk.

And the stress reduction by removing high and low end of the peck-order. That would be max stress to the layers involved, (can see the commercial logic).

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