Egg storage for future consumption has been practiced for hundreds of years. There are simple steps in storing eggs to prevent deterioration, which includes simple storage in proper temperature and proper sanitation.
Eggs for storage must not be washed or wet and should be clean. Dirt and bacteria that enter the porous shell can cause it to decay. Use dry abrasives for scraping and brushing but take care not to weaken the shell and do not increase evaporation.
Shell oiling is a process that can greatly reduce losses by evaporation when eggs are in cold storage. Special odorless, colorless, low-viscosity mineral oils should be used. If eggs should withstand high temperatures, they should be oiled from four to six hours after lay. Eggs that are to be stored at a temperature of 0° C should be oiled 18 to 24 hours after lay. Eggs may be oiled by hand dipping wire baskets or by machine.
Make sure that the temperature of the oil is at least 11° C above that of the eggs. Before the oil is reused it should be heated to a temperature of 116° C to prevent bacteria survival. The oil should then be filtered. The oil reservoirs should be cleaned properly. In terms of appearance oiled eggs differ from other eggs only in the slight shine left on the eggshells by the more viscous oils. Make sure that the packaging material, as well as the storage room should be clean and odorless. Also make sure that there is air circulation in the room.
In hot weather, eggs should be stored at low temperatures. Temperature should be maintained at 13°C or lower (usually between 10° and 13° C). The relative humidity should be between 80 and 85% at a cold storage temperature of – 1° C. At cold storage temperatures of about 10° C the relative humidity should be between 75 and 80 percent. Where eggs have been oiled, less attention can be paid to the humidity level. The average storage life for eggs is between six and seven months.
Transport of eggs should not be delayed to minimize spoilage. This is one of the most important aspects of marketing arrangements. Generally, long distance transport should be made by using refrigerated trucks. Aside from monitoring temperature, eggs should also be protected from contamination during handling. Use packaging materials and transport containers that protect the eggs well from breakage. Egg trays and containers should also be stacked well and secured to protect them from excessive shaking in transit.
Just as in any business, the layer farm should keep records to monitor its production costs and profits. Here are the costs to consider before starting an egg production enterprise:
- Rearing – rearing brooders until they become layers
- Housing – building or maintaining laying house and brooder house
- Equipment – cost of miscellaneous items such as feeders, buckets, fans, etc.
- Feed – total feed used during the year
- Labor – labor costs for managing the farm
- Vaccinations – medicines and veterinary expenses
- Mortality – loss of birds due to disease, etc.
- Various expenses – lighting, water, and other unexpected expenses
Marketing for Eggs
There are two ways to market table eggs: using direct marketing, or marketing through middlemen or intermediaries. Marketing through middlemen is the more popular method and the more advisable one because this gives the farmers the opportunity to concentrate on the farm and production as compared to spending time on marketing and sales. Just remember, the most crucial part of marketing is meeting the demands and requirements of customers, and these usually rely on production, handling, storage, and transport of goods.
The four ways to conduct direct marketing are: sales from the farm, door-to-door sales, producers’ markets, and sales to local retail stores.
When a farmer directly sells from the farm, he gets the advantage of zero marketing costs, and consumers are assured of fresh eggs with almost no quality loss from transport. However, the farmer is not assured that the consumer will be willing to travel to his farm to avail of the eggs at regular market price as compared to farm-gate price.
Door-to-door selling affords the farmer to command a higher price for the eggs for the added service of bringing the eggs to the consumer’s doorstep. However, this does not assure sales until the farmer gets regular customers who order the eggs.
It is not advisable for the farmer to use producers’ markets alone to sell eggs because the main advantage of this market is that the farmer would have reduced the price of eggs greatly toward the end of the day, and the eggs would have already been exposed to the environment and temperature of the market.
Selling directly to local shops, institutions and businesses like restaurants, hotels, schools and hospitals would require a prior agreement and contract. The farmer should be able to meet the quantity and quality demand of the customer organization.
Marketing with Middlemen
Marketing with the use of middlemen or intermediaries is most beneficial for the farmer because he will only need to make the deal with the middleman and will not need to spend time and money for the marketing of eggs. These middleman would have been experienced in marketing eggs and already have contacts to whom they can sell the eggs as well as knowledge of the egg market. Middlemen also pay for the eggs immediately and will take care of transporting the eggs from the farm.
Marketing Costs and Pricing
Costs to be considered during marketing are: packaging and storage, handling, transport, product losses, fees and taxes, and unexpected costs from unforeseen incidents such as derailment in delivery and such.
Pricing for eggs fluctuates during the year, depending on factors that affect production and eventually supply and demand. But farmers should always keep in mind to maintain a steady supply of eggs to maintain stable prices.
Profit can be calculated at the end of the year, when farmers can calculate total sales minus production and marketing costs.
Trade associations are helpful to producers because they are able to conduct dissemination of information and technology to its members. Trade associations also come up with the standard of quality farmers should produce. Overall, trade associations are beneficial to producers because they look out for the producers’ interest.
In the Philippines, there is the National Federation of Egg Producers of the Philippines or Egg Board which has organized two egg shows to date.
Author: Carmela Abaygar, Marid Digest (www.mariddigest.com), photo from nextraterrestrial.com