Simply put, eggs are amazing. But how much do you know about the wonderful little hens that are producing your eggs? Today I’m sharing 3 things I recently learned about eggs from a meeting I had and research done by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply.
A little over a month ago I had the pleasure of attending a blogger happy hour here in Milwaukee, WI. The blogger happy hour was an evening of mixing and mingling (can you tell I have Christmas on my mind…clearly I have the song Jingle Bells Rock stuck in my head) with other bloggers as well as talking with a group of researchers that have been looking into the best way to raise laying hens – be it cage-free, conventional, etc.
We got the chance to speak with a farmer and a researcher to talk about the findings of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply study which looked at how three different housing systems impact not only cost, but other factors as well, including egg safety and animal well-being. Check out an infographic summarizing their findings here.
- The first thing I learned was about different hen housing system – I had no idea that there were so many different housing systems. The three hen housing systems the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply studied were: conventional cages (in which hens are stacked in cages), cage-free housing (in which hens are allowed to roam freely through sections of the barn) and enriched colony (which is a hybrid between the two systems in which hens are in larger cages that contain perches, nesting and foraging area). Here is an infographic showing the different housing systems. There are positives and negative aspects to each different housing system. We did have the opportunity to meet with an egg producer and see a tour of their cage-free egg production operation which I found fascinating.
- After hearing about the different hen housing systems, the question came up about the mental well-being of the hens in the different houses and if there was a difference. We learned that “physiological stress blood samples were taken for assessment of heterophil to lymphocyte ratios and white blood cell counts at pullet placement and then at peak, middle and end of lay; in addition, the hens sampled were euthanized and their adrenal glands were weighed. Overall, the physiological data were not suggestive of differences in long-term or short-term stress between the three housing systems” (source). I found that very interesting and somewhat comforting. Part of me had always wondered if there was a major difference between the mental state of the hens based on which type of environment they were laying the eggs in.
- The third thing I learned is the thing I probably found most useful. During the discussion part of the evening I asked what the sell-by date meant because I had heard a bunch of different things. I learned that eggs have a number on the short side of the carton that is the day of the year the eggs were packed. The day is written as a number (Jan 1 written as 00 and Dec. 31 written as 365) and although a “sell by” date is not required, it is usually listed. It is the date beyond which eggs should not be sold. However, the eggs are still safe to eat four to five weeks after the packaging date, even if the sell by date has passed before then!
I use eggs ALL the time in cooking and baking (like in this 5 ingredient ramen with an egg, in this spinach salad with soft boiled eggs, in these 10 minute breakfast sandwiches and of course eggs are used in these amazing salted caramel chocolate chip cookies) so I always love learning about the ingredients I’m using.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy eggs?
Disclosure: The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply has compensated me for my time to write this post. Thank you for supporting the brands and organizations that make the SweetPhi blog possible. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine alone.