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Egg Laying Hens at the Farm

Farmer's Finest farms have two types of egg laying hens

 

Farmer’s Finest Brand has two types of laying hens – White Leghorns, which produce white eggs, and Rhode Island Red hens, which produce brown eggs.

 

Sparks Egg Farms was the first egg producer in Alberta to incorporate the printing of Best Before Dates on products, demonstrating our commitment to ensure the freshest, highest quality egg. With this process, Best Before Dates are applied with a Health Canada approved vegetable based food grade ink on each egg after it has been washed and candled.

 

Today, our farm's production is highly automated because there is a great demand for eggs and it is impossible to keep up otherwise. The process for taking eggs to market has changed dramatically through the years.

 

The Advantages of
Automation

An increase in demand for poultry and eggs began during World War II and triggered the development of modern production practices. To meet the nutritional needs of more people on the same amount of land, and with fewer workers, required new breeding, feeding and management methods.

 

Soon we saw hens move from straw floors and farm yards to cages in highly automated barns.

 

Some people might argue that it wasn’t a smooth transition at first, but in more recent years continued advancements have made it possible to pay attention to animal welfare. Sparks Farms has made the health, welfare and security of our poultry a top priority, and we’re very proud of our farm. We’ve created an environment that is good for our laying hens and a community of workers that are able to find great satisfaction in their work.

 

In a broad overview, these are the 5 cornerstones that we follow to govern all decisions.

 

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst – our hens have constant access to fresh, clean water.

 

2. Freedom from discomfort – we provide an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

 

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease – we focus first on prevention to anticipate and avoid threats to health and wellness, and are always prepared for rapid diagnosis and treatment.

 

4. Freedom to express natural behaviour – we accomplish this through provision of space, amenities such as scratch pads and opportunities for socialization.

 

5. Freedom from fear and distress – we design conditions and treatment methods to avoid stress and mental suffering, and use methods such as piping in music when it is necessary to soothe the flock.

 
 

Hens are housed in clean, well ventilated buildings where temperature, humidity and lighting are controlled for year-round comfort.

 

Control systems simulate conditions for day and night to allow natural behaviour patterns.

 

Eggs automatically roll from cages onto conveyer belts for prompt collection and refrigeration, minimizing the need for human disruption of the hens’ environment.

 

Litter management is critical for control of pest and disease risk. We have designed a system to allow waste to drop from the cages into a manure disposal pit, removing this on a conveyor system, keeping both the hens and the eggs clean and safe.

 

Collecting Eggs

Egg collection used to be like a game of hide and seek, and many eggs were lost or damaged in the process. Now, egg collection is done automatically on moving belts, generally twice a day. Eggs are gently carried to a central packing area. Here the eggs are placed in sanitized flats with the wide end up to keep the yolk centered.

 

Flats are then placed on pallets and stored immediately in a cooler or cool room and chilled to 10° to 13° C. At this temperature, eggs retain their freshness and quality while awaiting shipment to a registered grading station - usually within four days.

 

A Working Life

The most popular breed for egg production in Canada today is the White Leghorn. It is small and yet it lays far more eggs than its ancestors. These hens lay white eggs. We also raise Rhode Island Red hens which lay brown eggs. Brown or white, there is no difference in nutritional value or cooking performance.

 

Because of continued improvements to housing, lighting, nutrition and efficient management, a hen can lay approximately 320 eggs during its laying cycle.

 

Hens begin egg production at five to six months (19 weeks) of age and continue to lay for at least 12 months. We raise multiple flocks, staggered in age, so we have a steady supply of layers and eggs to market.

 

Each stage of the hen's development cycle requires specialized care and attention. Chicks are hatched at hatcheries, then we raise them in our pullet barn (pullets are hens less than 19 weeks of age).

 

In addition to light, a well balanced diet, fresh water and comfortable surroundings are essential for hen health and egg production. A hen's diet consists of grains, proteins, vitamins, minerals and plenty of fresh water.

 

Every aspect from feed to egg collection is controlled and monitored so the hen has a comfortable, safe environment, as close to natural as conditions allow.

 

 

Making The Grade...


Farm Fresh Eggs in Calgary


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