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Chandrasen Pena
Chandrasen Pena

Commercial Chicken Meat And Egg Production

Day-old chicks are usually obtained from local hatcherieslicensed by international hybrid breeding companies. Farmers or cooperatives offarmers may choose between varieties of chickens for egg production and meatproduction.

Commercial chicken meat and egg production

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Feed. Free-range hens will produce more meat andeggs with supplemental feed, but only if they are improved breeds orcrossbreeds. The selection of local hens is done on the basis of resistance andother criteria rather than feed utilisation for production.

In areas where the climate is hot and humid, commercial hybridlaying birds produce on average between 180 and 200 eggs per year. In moretemperate climates birds can produce on average between 250 and 300 eggs peryear. The table below illustrates a typical production schedule in a hot andhumid climate.

The graph in Figure 3 shows the actual percentage ofproductive laying flock over a period of time, and the graph in Figure 4 showsthe number of eggs produced over a period of time for 100 birds. Egg productionrises rapidly and then starts to fall after 31 weeks of age. When less than 65percent of the flock are laying eggs (71 weeks of age), it may becomeuneconomical to retain birds. Feed costs and sales of culled birds for meat mustbe considered as well as prices for eggs. In some instances when egg prices arehigh it may be viable to delay culling birds until only 45 percent of the flockis still laying eggs (78 weeks of age).

The majority of indigenous breeds or strains of chicken/fowlhave evolved to survive under harsh conditions where they largely have to fendfor themselves. Such hardiness, however, is at the expense of higher levels ofproductivity and they are less able to exploit the advantages of improvedmanagement, nutrition, etc., than breeds with a greater genetic potential foregg production and feed conversion (growth).

A new ‘heat stable’ oral vaccine has been developedand widely tested in Asia and Africa. The primary advantage is that it no longerrequires a complete cold chain to maintain its potency. Queensland University inAustralia has made available free to laboratories in developing countries a seedvirus, designated I2, to those who wish to explore the possibilities of vaccineproduction. This opens the door for producing with intermediate levels oftechnology, the fresh (not freeze-dried) vaccine at regional laboratories foruse within a few weeks of production. In addition, a commercial V4 vaccine isalso available, but not in large quantities and it remains expensive.

Potentially these vaccines offer the possibility of overcomingthe problems of transport, storage and the difficulty of catching individualchickens. They are not, however, available everywhere, and applying the vaccineto feeds is not without problems. The question of who produces the vaccineremains an issue and experience has shown that projects may be able to introducethe technology but often production ceases once external inputs areremoved.

Two choices are available. The introduction of pure-bred,dual-purpose breeds (e.g. the Rhode Island Red or Australorp) or the commercialhybrids, which are usually selected either for meat (broiler) or egg production.Traditionally, the dual-purpose breeds have been the exotic breeds of choice,the exception has been the White Leghorn, a laying breed that has provedunsatisfactory in adapting to village conditions. Obtaining grandparent stock ofthese breeds is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive. Some commercialcompanies now offer a more hardy, dual-purpose type of hybrid bird that could beused in certain situations.

Importing parent stock aseither fertile eggs or day-old chicks to supply commercial birds fordistribution. This is usually the most economic option if acceptable levelsof production can be maintained.

There is potential for improving locally adapted breeds byselection. Virtually all the indigenous breeds have not been subjected to anyselection process, other than natural selection. The consequence is that thereis a large variation in production traits (i.e. number of eggs laid, etc.)between individuals in the overall population. By identifying and selecting thetop performers for a given trait, and given the chicken’s short generationinterval, it would be possible to make substantial gains in genetic potentialwithin the existing production environment. However, care must be taken sincesome traits are genetically negatively correlated i.e. broodiness and eggproduction. The logistical constraints in successfully implementing such aprogramme are formidable.

You may butcher laying hens for home consumption, but as their genetics are for egg production, their meat is tough and there is not as much of it compared to a meat-type chicken. Stewing laying hen meat makes it more edible, as does using it in soups. Laying hens may have a fair amount of fat that may need to be skimmed from the dish being prepared.

If you plan to start or have started raising chickens for egg production, you need to understand flock production capabilities. You need to know how to gauge the number of eggs your flock can produce and be aware of the variables that affect egg production. You should be able to identify which hens are laying and determine why your hens are not laying. By having a firm grasp of these factors, you will help ensure the success of your flock.

Some commercial breeds of chickens have been developed specifically for egg production. The commercial White Leghorn is used in large egg production complexes, but these birds typically do not produce well in home flocks. They are simply too flighty. Moreover, they lay white-shelled eggs. People purchasing eggs from small flocks often prefer to buy brown-shelled eggs, even though no nutritional differences exist between brown-shelled eggs and white-shelled eggs.

Breeding companies also have developed commercial layers for brown-shelled egg production, with some bred specifically for pasture poultry production. In addition, many hatcheries sell what are called sex-link crosses. These specific crosses allow the hatchery to sex the chicks at hatch based on feather color. As a result, the number of sexing errors is reduced, so you are less likely to get an unwanted rooster.

Obviously, you can choose from several breeds. When making your decision about which breed or breeds to raise, keep in mind that commercial-type hens may give you a higher level of production initially, but other breeds tend to lay for more years. For additional assistance in deciding which breed to choose, see the related article on which chicken breed is best for a small or backyard flock.

Chickens of any type and age require a complete, balanced diet. Feed mills assemble the available ingredients in combinations that provide all the nutrients needed by a flock in one package. Some producers mix complete feeds with cheaper scratch grains, but doing so dilutes the levels of nutrients the chickens are receiving, and nutrient deficiencies can occur. Nutrient deficiencies can adversely affect the growth of pullets and the level of production of hens.

Do not wash eggs from the grocery store before putting them in the refrigerator. Washing is a routine part of commercial egg processing and the eggs do not need to be washed again. "Bloom," the natural coating on just-laid eggs that helps prevent bacteria from permeating the shell, is removed by the commercial washing process. It is replaced by a light coating of edible mineral oil, which restores protection for long-term home storage of eggs. Extra handling of the eggs in your home, such as washing them, could increase the risk of cross-contamination, especially if the shell becomes cracked.

A truck drives out of a Wisconsin farm on Thursday where avian flu was detected, forcing the commercial egg producer to destroy more than 2.7 million chickens. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

This week an outbreak was confirmed at a commercial flock in Nebraska, causing 570,000 broiler chickens to be destroyed. In Delaware and Maryland, more than two million birds at commercial poultry flocks have been affected.

In South Dakota, an outbreak last week led to the killing of 85,000 birds. An outbreak confirmed March 14 at a commercial operation in Wisconsin meant more than 2.7 million egg-laying chickens were killed.

The latest data from the USDA show 59 confirmed sites of avian flu across commercial and backyard flocks in 17 states since the start of the year. That figure includes chickens, turkey and other poultry.

"In 2015, we did see quite an increase in egg prices," Kean told Wisconsin Public Radio. "The chicken meat wasn't severely affected at that time. We did see quite a loss in turkeys, so turkey prices went up. So, we'll see. If a lot of farms contract this, then we could see some real increases in price."

The specialization of chicken breeds also means that millions of male chicks, which do not lay eggs and are not designed to grow adequate meat, are culled at the hatchery, whether by being fed into an industrial grinder or asphyxiated with carbon dioxide and turned into pet food. Even farmers who raise laying hens on pasture do not generally hatch their birds from eggs, and instead purchase chicks from hatcheries that use this practice.

In comparison to industrial production of beef or even broiler chicken, eggs have a smaller footprint; but there are still significant problems with large-scale egg facilities, including environmental pollution, poor worker conditions and health consequences for the surrounding community.

In terms of water consumption, eggs have a smaller footprint than many other animal products.54 On a per-calorie basis, egg production requires less than 25 percent of the water needed for beef and 75 percent less than needed for chicken, although six percent more water than for pork and 25 percent more than required for milk production.55 On a per-grams-of-protein basis, egg production requires less than 25 percent of the water required by beef, about 50 percent that of pork, 85 percent that of chicken meat and 94 percent that of milk.56 041b061a72


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