Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, May 16, 1981, Image 117

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    Researchers scramble to hatch stronger eggs
average U.S. laying hen produced
a record 243 marketable eggs last
year, but the total could have been
even higher perhaps 260 per hen
• if only eggs had sturdier shells.
Shell breaks are a problem and a
costly one.
“First of all, breakage means a
direct cash loss to producers,”
says USDA economist Allen Baker.
However, breakage creates all
kinds of other problems as well.
Appearance, for example.
Shell breaks are a problem
and a costly one
“One broken egg in a carton can chicken house because the shells
soil other eggs, causing them to be are inadequately formed or too
classified as ‘dirties,’ which fragile for the collection process,
reduces their market value. Today’s high volume production
Dirties” can’t be sold to consumers is largely mechanized and some
as edible eggs. Instead, they are researchers say this has probably
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diverted to “breakers,” and sold at
a lower price for use in "processed
“A more serious problem
quality deterioration and possible
bacterial contamination can
leave producers or processors with
a carton of eggs of little or no
market value,” adds Baker.
The danger of breakage begins
as soon as the eggs leaves the hen.
In fact, by some research
estimates, roughly 7 percent of the
nation’s eggs never get out of the
/ V
0/ *
increu. ct u>c bieakage problem.
Fragile shells aren’t likely to make
it through the mechanical
gathering, washing, and packing
process of modern assembly-line
egg production operations.
Studies on breakage, completed
in California during the early
1970’5, indicated anywhere from
2.3 to 11.8 percent of eggs were
cracked or smashed en route from
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Lancaster Faming, Saturday, May 16, IS6I-C29
the nest to the carton. Most -For example, one industry
breakage (71 percent) had already shipper reported Bto 10 percent
occurred during the initial tran- losses in transporting eggs from
sport, while the rest took place the processing plant to the
during other mechanized marketplace. Why? - broken egg
processes 13 percent during - shells and the mess they make.
The danger of breakage begins
as soon as the egg leaves the hen
loading, washing, and drying and
16 percent during weighing,
grading, and packing.
Assessments of total egg losses
caused by breakage vary widely
because no national figures are
collected. Within the industry,
however, there seems to be a
consensus that losses are greater
than most current estimates in
dicate because they don’t fully
account for breakage throughout
the marketing chain.
Just how hard would it be to
make a tougher eggshell?
“Difficult, but we hope not
impossible,” admits USDA egg
expert George Mountney.
Mountney coordinates a
research program dealing with
eggshell quality. It’s part of the
state agricultural experiment
station programs dealing with
problems of regional or national
importance. Federally funded, as
well as by some state sources, the
research is officially called
Project S-131 “Eggshell Quality
in Avian Species.”
One S-131 researcher is David
Roland of the poultry science
department at Auburn University.
Like colleagues at 14 other
(Turn to Page C3O)
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