Chickens

Broiler chickens are market animals raised for meat production and do not lay eggs unlike their counterparts, egg-laying hens.

First, determining what dish you’re going to prepare will help determine what size or cut of chicken you want to buy. When purchasing the chicken, you’ll want to look for one that is creamy white to deep yellow in appearance and without a distinctive odor.

Chicken is a good source of protein, as well as vitamins B3 and B6 and minerals selenium, phosphorus and choline. And it can be prepared in a variety of ways, whether grilled, sautéed, roasted with any number of other tasty ingredients.

You will find useful information about preparing chicken safely from https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/important-food-safety-tips-for-poultry/

Egg-Laying Hens

Hens will lay an egg every 24 to 26 hours, with some down-time during the year for their natural molting cycle. Through the course of a year, they will lay approximately 271 eggs.

There are approximately 324 million egg-laying hens nationally, with 10.7 million of them raised in Minnesota. There is about one laying hen for every person in the U.S. and one hen will lay about enough eggs to feed one person.

Eggs

There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you’re purchasing safe, healthy eggs. First, only purchase eggs from a refrigerated case. Next, open the egg carton and make sure that none of the eggs are cracked. Finally, once purchased and home, refrigerate them promptly in the carton until use.

Each of the roughly 280 million laying birds in the U.S. produces from 250 to 300 eggs a year. In total, farmers in the U.S. produce about 75 billion eggs annually, about 10 percent of the world supply.

As a portion of that, Minnesota farmers produce about 3.2 billion eggs each year.

Eggs should be stored in the carton and in the coldest part of the refrigerator to ensure their safety.

Hard-boiled eggs will safely keep, preferably in the shell, for up to one week.

There are many different ways to prepare eggs. Just to name a few, you can prepare them scrambled, hard-boiled, over-easy and use them in many of your favorite recipes.

Thoroughly cooking eggs is one of the most important ways to ensure that eggs are safe to eat. First, cook eggs until both the white and the yolk are firm. If eggs are used as an ingredient in a recipe, use a food thermometer to make sure they’re cooked to 160°F.

Eggs have a number of valuable health benefits. They are good for your eyes due to their carotenoid content and are high in protein and naturally-occurring vitamin D. Also, contrary to previous belief, eggs do not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans place no daily limit on dietary cholesterol intake; other dietary factors, such as saturated fat or trans fat, have been shown to be more detrimental to heart disease risk. Learn more about egg nutrition here at the Egg Nutritional Center.

The color of the egg shell is determined by the breed of the hen. The white eggs most commonly preferred by consumers are laid by a breed that only lays white eggs.

The color of the yolk is determined by the hen’s diet. The color may vary based on the different ingredients in the hen’s feed at that time. The color of the yolk does not change the basic nutritional value of an egg.

Animal Care

Minnesota’s chicken and egg farmers are committed to ensuring the responsible care of our flocks and maintaining their well-being at all times. In fact, animal care, bird health and well-being are the most important factors to everyone involved in egg and chicken production, including farmers, the hatcheries responsible for raising our chicks and processing companies.

Each of us has the moral and ethical obligation to provide excellent care of our flocks every day. We do so because it is our responsibility, the right thing to do for the birds and it ensures safe, wholesome and quality food for consumers.

Chickens and hens are traditionally raised indoors for a number of reasons, all of which connect to overall animal well-being. As you know, Minnesota winters get incredibly cold. Being indoors allows us to control their environment, protect them from extreme weather conditions, and keep them comfortable year-round.

It keeps them safe from predators and diseases that exist on the outside, and also allows farmers and veterinarians to closely monitor bird health.

Chicken and Hen Nutrition

Farmers have nutritionists who help them develop diets specific to the needs of the birds. As the birds grow, they have everything they need to be healthy. Their diet consists of soybean meal, corn, trace minerals and vitamins. That provides them with a complete package of nutrition.

Chickens and hens have constant access to both nutritionally-balanced feed and water.

Environment

Chickens and hens do produce a lot of manure, but farmers don’t think of it as waste. Instead, it’s an important resource for Minnesota farmers. Chicken farmers are able to collect the manure from the barns and use it as a fertilizer for their crops, or for the crops of neighbors’ farms; oftentimes, these crops will feed more chickens and hens.

Because farmers are able to capture chicken and hen manure in their barns, they are able to ensure it doesn’t run off into the water supply and soil. Farmers then apply the manure where it is needed and in a proper amount to ensure the viability of their crops. Chicken barns also have extensive ventilation systems and manure management protocols that minimize odor – which is important to both the surrounding communities and for the health of the birds and barn workers.

Food Safety

Producing safe, affordable, high-quality and nutritious chicken and eggs is the top priority of Minnesota farmers. This is achieved by proactively monitoring and ensuring the health of all flocks. A healthy bird will produce a healthy product.

Farmers work hard to prevent diseases in the barns. That’s why chicken farmers are pretty selective about who enters the barns – people can bring in diseases from the outside and not even know it. To ensure that those who do visit don’t bring in disease, (like veterinarians, feed suppliers and others) visitors must wear protective gear while in the barns.  Additionally, all employees and visitors are prohibited from visiting multiple farms within 48 hours before entering a new chicken barn. Doing so helps decrease the chance of disease transmission.

Having those measures in place go a long way toward ensuring food safety and that you’re able to enjoy safe, wholesome chickens and eggs from Minnesota farmers.

© 2012- Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota