Preservation of eggshell quality pre and post lay

egg  tuchodiFrequent egg collection helps prevent build-up of dirt soil and stains on the eggshell. (Image source: tuchodi/Flickr)Eggs having so called ‘body checks’ can be a particularly significant factor in eggshell and egg quality. Such eggs will have been cracked and damaged in the uterus during early shell formation with further shell material subsequently laid over the crack.  Producers can minimise this problem of body checks by:

•           By ensuring that caged hens are not in over-crowded conditions, because it is continual contact of hens with each other and the sides of the cage which leads to a high incidence of the ‘body check’ damage.

•           Avoid hanging onto flocks for too long because older birds produce a higher incidence of eggs with ‘body check’.

•           Install and use a lighting programme that is no longer than the longest natural light in open houses.

Management procedures that will ensure a high overall aesthetic egg quality include:

•           Frequent egg collection which helps to prevent the build-up and accumulation of dirt soil and stains on the eggshell.

•           Ensure temperature of the egg washing water is 11°C (20°F) higher than the temperature of egg contents, as this will assist in preventing thermal cracks. In poultry parlance these are often called 'blind checks'.

Modern in-line commercial egg collection has gone a long way to reduce the incidence of checked and cracked eggs, but producers should still be aware that deficiencies in their egg collection system can be responsible for high and costly levels of shell damage.

Keeping eggs free from microbiological contamination is perhaps the most critically important aspect of egg quality, and certainly in relation to consumer health and protection and the reputation of the egg producer. Best practice in egg washing and egg handling must be followed with use of an appropriate and proper sanitising agent to maintain high standards of shell cleanness and eggs free from bacterial contamination. 

Dr Terry Mabbett

 

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