Egg farmers work hard to properly care for the land, air and water on and near their farms. In fact, compared to 1960, today’s egg farmers are using less resources, like feed and water, to feed more hens and produce even more eggs. At the same time, they’re creating less waste, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. While carefully considering the needs of their animals, employees and neighbors, North Carolina egg farmers responsibly care for the environment and assure consumers can buy safe and nutritious eggs at local grocery stores. Find out how egg farmers are reducing their environmental impact.
1. Increased Feed Efficiency
Feed efficiency plays a key role in reducing environmental impacts. Thanks to improved nutrition, among other improvements in egg farming, hens are living longer and producing 27% more eggs than in 1960. Additionally, today’s hens consume a little over half the amount of daily feed to produce a dozen eggs.
2. Cleaner, Better Water Usage
Compared to 60 years ago, modern egg farms use 32% less water to produce a dozen eggs. Through reducing both water intake and usage, and by implementing smart environmental practices to save and recycle water, advancements in egg farming have led to cleaner and better water usage across the U.S. and right here in North Carolina.
“When it comes to taking care of the environment, we’ve added grass waterways to improve water quality on and around our farm, and we’re in the process of building a catch pond to provide a water source for our hens.” – Jackie Hunter, Hamptonville, N.C.
3. Advanced Hen Housing and Disease Control
Advancements in hen housing, such as improved building ventilation, temperature control, better lighting and a more secure housing environment, help to ensure that hens are protected from diseases and outside threats. These techniques have been widely adopted by egg farmers across the country, leading to healthier hens with a lower mortality and higher rate of egg production.
“We follow strict biosecurity and environmental guidelines set by the industry. Plus, our experience in observing and caring for our hens is a valuable tool in maintaining the health and productivity of our flock.” – Edward Maness, Star, N.C.
4. Improved Manure Management
Manure management has played a role in minimizing the egg industry’s environmental footprint. The vast majority of manure from laying hens is recycled into crop production, providing nutrients for plants, contributing to healthy soils, saving energy and reducing commercial fertilizer use. Farmers implement best practices and work with their neighbors and local agencies to ensure proper manure management.
“We work with our neighbors and other farms nearby to ensure everyone’s success. We also consult with the Alamance County Soil and Water District to develop a manure and litter management plan that follows the guidelines they set. One measure we took recently to protect the environment is building a dry litter storage facility. This facility allows us to store dry litter until conditions are suitable for application on land, or until litter can be picked up for use by others as fertilizer or animal feed, or can be composted.” – Natasha Swaney, Snow Camp, N.C.
5. Farming Local
Advancements in technology have allowed egg farmers to buy feed and nutrients for their hens locally. In North Carolina, 85% of corn is from local farms and, in most cases, the farthest any feed travels is 50-60 miles from the farm, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the overall environmental footprint of farming. Egg farmers also support their communities by providing jobs to local workers, being involved in local organizations and causes and shopping at area businesses.
“We love our community, and we love agriculture, so we want to play a part in making our community better every day. We employ local folks, buy products from local farmers and give back to mission-driven organizations. As part of our mission to enrich the community, we make ongoing donations, including egg donations, to local food banks and other communities in need across North Carolina.” – Trey Braswell, Nashville, N.C.
Now you know, every aspect of the egg production process, from cultivating feed to raising the laying hens, and implementing smart environmental practices on egg farms, has led to a reduced environmental footprint in egg farming. And farms are continually looking to identify potential areas for environmental improvements. To learn more about how egg farmers care for the environment, check out the Incredible Egg and Egg Nutrition Center.