Ever wondered what egg farmers in Canada feed their hens? Or what is the difference between brown and white eggs? We’ve got answers to your questions and many more!
Egg farmers work with nutrition specialists to ensure their hens eat a balanced and nutritious diet of grains, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. And of course, water is always on the menu! A balanced diet is vital for maintaining the hen’s health and also plays an important role in the quality of eggs produced.
Canadian egg farmers follow feed regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Steroids and hormones are not approved for use in Canada. This means that the eggs you buy at the store do not contain steroids or hormones. Learn more.
Aside from the colour of the eggshell, there is little difference between brown and white eggs. The eggshell colour depends on the breed of the hen. Generally speaking, white shell eggs come from hens with white feathers, while brown shell eggs are produced by hens with brown feathers. Nutritionally, both brown and white eggs are identical unless the feed has been enhanced for speciality eggs such as Omega-3.
An average of 650 million dozen eggs are produced each year by registered egg farmers.
Egg size is related to the age of the hen -- as a hen gets older, she lays larger eggs. Eggs are sorted at the grading station based on weight, not circumference, and packaged accordingly into the following sizes: pee wee, small, medium, large, extra large or jumbo. Learn more.
The newest infant feeding guidelines from Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada now recommend introducing whole eggs starting at six months of age, or as soon as your child starts eating solids. Experts no longer recommend delaying the introduction of common allergens to twelve months. In fact, research shows that introducing whole eggs early can actually help to lower your baby’s chance of developing an egg allergy. Learn more.
From classic white and brown eggs to free range and free run to organic, omega-3 or vitamin D enhanced, Canadian egg farmers provide you with choices and they all have one thing in common--they are all produced to the same high standards. No matter what type of egg you choose, they all make a nutritious and delicious choice.
Regular white or brown eggs come from hens that are housed in small group settings with plenty of access to food and water.
Vitamin enhanced eggs have more of a certain nutrient (e.g. vitamin D or omega-3). Hens are fed a nutritionally-enhanced diet containing higher levels of certain nutrients that make their way from the diet of the hen into the egg.
Organic eggs come from hens raised in a free range system with access to the outdoors. Hens are fed a certified organic feed.
Furnished or enriched eggs come from hens that are housed in small group settings with amenities such as perches and a curtained off area where hens lay their eggs.
Free run eggs come from hens that roam the entire barn floor. Some of these barns may be equipped with multi-tiered aviaries.
Free range eggs come from hens that roam the barn floor and when weather permits, go outside to pasture. Outdoor access is only seasonally available in Canada.
Processed eggs are shell eggs broken by special machines and pasteurized. They are further processed and packaged in liquid, frozen or dried form.
The day on the farm starts when the lights go on in the barn. On Susan Schafers’ farm, this is 6am. Floor eggs at her free run operation are gathered at 7am, which is an opportunity to walk through the whole barn.
Following that, she works on paperwork and record keeping for the national Start-Clean, Stay-Clean™ program and Animal Care Program including water, humidity and temperature checks.
Next up is egg gathering which takes about an hour, followed by a break. A second egg gathering and barn check happens later in the morning, and for the rest of the day the hens can do what they like. A third barn check happens in the afternoon with more record-keeping, and her day ends with a final barn check around 7-8pm.
In some parts of Canada, a code is stamped onto the eggshell. This code is part of a traceability system which identifies information like the farm where the eggs comes from, the place it was graded, and the best before date.
Through programs like this, we are able to ensure Canadians have a constant supply of fresh, safe and high-quality eggs and that you continue to have confidence in the food you buy for your family.
Yes, you can freeze eggs. First, crack the egg and remove the shell, then place the raw egg in an airtight container, and into the freezer.
If you want to freeze just the yolk, add a pinch of sugar or salt to prevent the yolks from gelling.
Eggs that are sold as organic are produced under specific standards laid out by the Canadian General Standards Board and certified by a reputable organic certification board. All certified organic eggs in Canada are produced in free range operations and the hens are fed certified organic feed. Visit the Canadian General Standards Board’s website for more information.
No, antibiotics are not used in laying hens in Canada. Canadian egg farmers follow feed regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
In addition, eggs in Canada are always free of added steroids and hormones.
As a hen ages, the eggs that she lays get gradually larger. However, the calcium content deposited in the shell remains the same despite the size of the egg. So, the eggshells become thinner as the hen ages.
In Canada, egg farmers use a variety of different systems to house their hens. Each system provides a clean environment, access to fresh food and water, and protection from natural predators. Most hens are housed in temperature controlled barns because the Canadian climate is so variable. This allows farmers to keep a consistent temperature in the barn, and protects the hens from inclement weather like rain, snow, heat and humidity.
In conventional systems, hens are housed in small group settings with plenty of access to food and water. Enriched systems are equipped with perches and a curtained off area where the hens lay their eggs. In free run systems, hens roam the entire barn floor. Some of these barns are also equipped with multi-tiered aviaries. Similar to free run systems, in free range systems hens also roam the barn floor, and when weather permits they go outside. Learn more.
Eggs, like many other perishable foods, should be stored in the refrigerator until they are needed to help maintain their freshness. The lower and consistent temperature limits moisture lost through the pores of the egg shell.
This keeps the egg fresh right up to the "best before date" that's stamped on the exterior of the carton. Learn more.