COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Florida State University and
United States Department of Agriculture. Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director
NEST TO CONSUMER
Fred R. Tarver, Jr., Assistant Poultry Husbandman
(Prepared in cooperation with workers of the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AN ALL IMPORTANT JOURNEY
Tremendous amounts of time, effort and expense
have gone into the development of today's commercial
egg-laying flocks. The quality of the eggs produced by
these flocks is becoming increasingly better with improved
breeding, feeding, management and marketing. It is there-
fore of the utmost importance for producers, jobbers and
retailers to maintain the superior quality found in these
modern chicken eggs.
The producer has the first obligation of maintaining
high egg quality because (1) he expects and deserves a
fair return on his investment, (2) he prides himself on
the quality work he performs and (3) he satisfies a cus-
tomer. The egg producer can maintain high egg quality
by following the practices recommended here.
MAINTAINING HIGH EGG QUALITY (PRODUCER)
REMOVE ROOSTERS.-There is no economic value
in keeping roosters in the laying house with commercial
egg flocks. Fertile eggs will deteriorate more rapidly than
infertile eggs when held at temperatures above 680 F.
Commercial table egg producers, then, should dispose of
all roosters and save on feed costs.
GATHER EGGS FREQUENTLY.-Eggs should be
gathered frequently in a well-ventilated basket. Eggs
gathered 3 to 4 times a day throughout the year have main-
tained a higher quality than those gathered less frequently
because the gatherings reduce the amount of body heat
to which the eggs are exposed. Broken and cracked
eggs are decreased and the eggs will not get as soiled.
The nest should be filled with clean litter at all times
and the litter on the floor should be kept dry, which
will aid considerably in preventing dirty eggs.
The producer should use the type basket that fills
his needs for gathering eggs. However, plastic-coated
wire baskets reduce egg breakage and the wire is protected
from the elements. The animal heat can be easily dispersed
when the eggs are cooled in this type basket, thus reduc-
ing the thinning of the thick white.
PRODUCE CLEAN EGGS.-Very few dirty or
stained eggs are laid. They usually become dirty or stained
after laying. If plenty of non-staining dry nesting material
is provided and changed frequently and if the eggs are
gathered three times a day, very few of the eggs will be-
come dirty or stained.
WASHING EGGS.-Dirty eggs may be separated
from the clean eggs before washing. However, this means
the eggs have to be handled or they may be washed with-
UNITED STATES STANDARDS FOR QUALITY OF INDIVIDUAL SHELL EGGS* (EFFECTIVE JULY 13, 1956)
AA A B C
depth, practically Clear, unbroken and practi-
Free from apparent defects.
2/8 inch in depth, practically
Clear, reasonably firm, so
yolk is fairly well centered
and outline fairly well de-
Practically free from appar-
1/8 inch in
Unbroken, slightly abnormal.
No adhering dirt but slight
stain. Localized stain 1/32 of
shell surface. Scattered stain
1/16 of shell surface.
3/8 inch in depth, unlimited
movement and may be free
but not bubbly.
Clear, slightly weak so yolk
may appear off-center and
outline well defined.
Slightly enlarged or slightly
flattened and show definite
but not serious defects.
Unbroken, abnormal, slight
to moderate stain not over
1/4 shell surface, no adher-
3/8 inch or larger in depth,
free or bubbly.
Weak, watery so yolk will
appear off-center and its out-
line plainly visible.
Dark, enlarged and flattened
and may show invisible sperm
development. May show seri-
ous defects which do not ren-
der the egg inedible; small
1/8 inch in depth practically
Clear, firm, yolk well cent-
ered, outline of yolks slight-
ly defined when candled.
*USDA regulations governing the grading and inspection of shell eggs and United States standards, grade and
weight class for shell eggs. Agricultural Marketing Service, Poultry Division, Washington, 25, D.C.
out separating the dirty and clean eggs. The wash wat
should be warmer (1200 F.) than the eggs and shou
contain a detergent and sanitizer for the removal of di
and the destruction of bacteria. The water should be aj
tated around the eggs for about 3 minutes, then the eg
should be removed, rinse with warm water and dried I
draining excess water from the eggs. Drying may I
hastened with the use of an electric fan.
DRY CLEANING EGGS.-Many types of abrasive
are available for dry cleaning eggs. They range from
small hand-type abrasive to the elaborate mechanic(
abrasive machines. The abrasive in most cases is so
form of fine sandpaper.
The dirty shell lowers the quality grade of an ej
Dirt on the shell contains bacteria which can render
egg inedible and it presents an unsightly appearance
COOL EGGS.-Eggs must be cooled thoroughly a
quickly before cartoning and casing. Eggs are cooled
remove animal heat and to slow down the various cher
cal reactions which otherwise lower the interior qual
grade. The egg cooler should accommodate your product
capacity. An egg cooler operating at 550 F. or lot
(350 F. to 400 F.) with a relative humidity of 70%
considered adequate. Eggs cooled prior to packing
sweat if removed from the cooler for candling and sizii
Therefore, eggs should be processed in the cooler or an
joining air-conditioned room. Eggs that cannot be p
cessed in this manner will by necessity be cooled af
processing or cooled prior to processing and then a
eggs at a time brought to the processing room for pack
to prevent sweating.
CANDLING.-At present, candling is the most p
tical way to determine the interior quality of a shell e
All eggs should be candled to remove blood spots
checks. Candling also determines the position of the y
in the albumen (white) as well as enables you to obse
the size of the air cell. The position of the yolk wit
the white shows the thickness or thinness of the wh
The size of the air cell indicates the degree of evap
tion. As the visibility of yolk and the size of the air
increases, the lower is the quality grade.
Candling may be accomplished by twirling the e
at an opening of concentrated light and then weigh
the egg on an individual egg scale or on a series of
scales set for various weight classes. Automatic or se
automatic candling-weighing equipment is also used.
this type of equipment, the eggs roll over a narrow slit
ght, then onto the series of individual egg scales. It is
itural to assume that the effectiveness of either method
:pends upon the ability of the chandler.
The shell of the egg should be sound and free from
iecks or cracks. An egg should possess the ideal shape.
should not be round, oblong or otherwise misshaped.
he texture of the shell is of importance in maintaining
tell egg quality. Porous, thin shells will permit excessive
nounts of moisture to escape. Also, this particular type
shell does not withstand handling too well.
EGG WEIGHT CLASSES.-Eggs, when classified
cording to weight and shell color, possess eye appeal
Id uniformity. Classes of eggs based on net weight per
)zen are: Pee Wees, 15-17 ounces; Small, 18-20 ounces;
.ediums, 21-23 ounces; Large, 24-26 ounces; Extra Large,
'-29 ounces; and Jumbo, 30-up ounces. Eggs so classified
mmand a higher price than eggs of mixed weights.
iere is no apparent difference in the nutritional value
white or brown shell eggs, but uniformity of color, as
egg weight classes, demands a higher price.
CARTONING AND CASING EGGS.-Eggs are
cked with the small end down. It is possible for the air
ge end of the egg is packed down. Also, the yolk will
come attached to the shell more quickly because the
a in the small end is usually reduced in size.
Cartons and cases should be clean. This removes to a
ge degree the possibility of mold formation which will
s off-flavors to the shell eggs.
EGG DELIVERIES.-Eggs should be moved to mar-
: as frequently as possible at least twice a week. It is
ential to keep all eggs in a cool atmosphere while en
ite to market. Avoid exposure to the hot sun, dust, rain
MAINTAINING HIGH EGG QUALITY
The second obligation in the maintenance of shell
quality lies with the jobber and retailer or the so-
ed middleman. Presumably, the producer has done an
nirable job in supplying the middleman with a high
lity product. The middleman should then have ade-
ite facilities to protect this high quality.
FACILITIES.-Refrigeration is a must for both short-
le holding and displaying of eggs. Careful processing is
:essary if the eggs are to be rehandled. When eggs are
ng moved from place to place, they should always be
?t cool. Sell eggs on a strict quality grade and weight
basis. All egg handlers should have a working knowledge
of the factors which go to make up egg quality.
The retailer would then place such eggs in a con-
spicious refrigerated display case where the consumer will
not have to search the store over for eggs. The display
case must be kept clean and neat at all times. Remember
that eggs are food to supply proteins, minerals, vitamins
and other essential nutrients for the health and wellbeing
of our bodies. The high quality eggs you have provided
for the housewife will bring her back again and again for
Remember that the important trip the egg must make
is all the way from the nest to the consumer.
References for further information:
1. Florida Egg Law, Department of Agriculture, In-
spection Bureau, Tallahassee, Florida.
2. Regulations Governing the Grading and Inspection
of Shell Eggs, USDA Agricultural Marketing Serv-
ice, Poultry Division, Washington 25, D. C.
3. Poultry Department, University of Florida, Gaines-