Written by: Sarah Novak | May 22, 2020
It seems every month has a great agricultural product to celebrate and May is no exception to that. Almost everyone in my family loves eating eggs, but I think my husband loves them the most. Scrambled, fried, over-easy, poached, hard-boiled – honestly, I don’t think there is a way he doesn’t like eggs. What makes me happy about my choice in preparing eggs for my family is not only are they very nutritious (what other product can pack in 13 essential vitamins and minerals and high-quality protein for only 70 calories?), but the egg industry has come a long way in hen health and sustainability.
Researchers in life-cycle assessment have compared egg production from 1960 to 2010 and found incredible results. Today’s hens are producing more eggs and living longer due to better health, nutrition and living environments, yet at the same time, today’s egg farmers are using fewer resources and producing less waste. This seems to be a win-win for everyone.
From 1960 to 2010, the U.S. population increased 72%, while hens produced 27% more eggs per day to keep up with growing demand, with only 18% more hens! In addition, animal nutritionists have found better ways to feed hens a balanced diet, which has led to improvements in feed efficiency (this means the hen need less feed to produce an egg), resulting in about 26% less daily feed and 32% less water.
Food for thought: if we were using 1960 practices today to supply the 77.8 billion eggs we’re currently producing, it would require 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans! In addition, 2010 egg production resulted in 71% lower greenhouse gas emissions than in 1960 – roughly the amount of carbon dioxide reduced is equivalent to taking 5.2 million cars off the road for a year!
What are hens fed today?
The Institute for Feed Education and Research completed a report on U.S. animal food consumption in 2016 and showed that America’s laying hens consumed nearly 16.4 million tons of feed that year. The studied showed that corn made up the majority of a hen’s diet (8.6 million tons), followed by about 20% soybean meal (3.2 million tons), roughly 10% bakery meal (1.6 million tons) and a little less than 10% dried distillers grains (1.6 million tons).
Here’s a trivia question: do you know that the state with the most egg-laying hens? The answer is Iowa, closely followed by Ohio and Indiana!
Overall, I couldn’t agree more with the Egg Nutrition Center – “Credible Science, Incredible Egg.” Enjoy an egg today, whichever way you like them!