How to Produce a Strong Egg Shell

Posted on January 17, 2017

Proper egg handling and bird management
processes can reduce hairline cracks in
your eggs.

Producing an egg with a strong shell is a complex process. Genetics, nutrition, bird health, sanitation, barn environment, managing bird stress and proper egg handling are just some of the key factors on a long list that influence egg quality and shell strength.

As any producer knows, proper nutrition plays a significant role in shell quality. Calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D are vital for a hen to produce a strong egg shell. These nutrients need to be adjusted based on factors such as: flock age, level of feed intake, sources of nutrients, digestibility, timing of nutrient availability and feed particle size. Ensuring your flock is not producing eggs that are too big, which results in thinner shells, can be achieved by properly managing the amount of amino acid your flock is consuming.

It is also important your flock lives in an environment that is as stress-free as possible. Stresses come in many forms including disease, heat stress, excessive or sudden noises, improper lighting programs, poor air quality and aggression from other birds. Stresses like these impact egg formation, reduce feed intake, and even divert nutrients to needs other than egg production. These stresses can result in smaller, thin or soft shelled eggs, body-checked eggs, slab-sided eggs or misshapen eggs.

Egg handling is another vital step in producing a quality egg. Prinzen knows this, having been in the automated egg handling business for over 30 years.

“Automatic packing saves time and money. But these efficiencies only pay off if the egg is handled correctly and is packed without damage to the egg,“ noted Paul Bossenberry, Sales Representative, Eastern U.S.

Our gentle egg handling begins with our innovative Vencomat, nest tipping floor and egg belt. The Vencomat is designed with small pins that minimize direct contact with the bird, resulting in cleaner eggs. The pins also ensure a slow and controlled roll of the egg onto the egg belt. The tipping floor automatically expels birds from the nest after laying, preventing broodiness and soiling of the nest. Our egg belts automatically transport the egg from the nest to a central collection point. Square perforations in our egg belts mean minimal contact between the egg and the belt (ensuring quality), holding the egg firmly in place while it travels.

Eggs can tolerate a few minor impacts in the journey from nest to packer without developing cracks.  However, after three or four impacts, they can develop hairline cracks. The egg belt is one potential area where they can collide with other eggs and cracks can develop; one way to mitigate this risk is to collect eggs more than once a day.

Another way to cut down on potential impacts is to reduce the number of transfer points between the nest and the egg packer.  “Minimizing transfer points is critical, the more you can reduce the potential of eggs running into other eggs the better, and our systems really excel on this point, by design they have fewer transfer points,” explained Bossenberry.

When all factors are considered and proper egg handling and bird management practices are implemented, the result is a strong egg shell.