Development Of The Egg Industry

Eggs have been a human food source since the beginning of human residence on earth. The first usage of eggs was probably the taking of eggs from nests of wild birds. In primitive societies this continues to be significant source of high-quality protein, especially during the egg production season of wild birds. As civilization developed, the birds were domesticated and were kept in pens and shelters. In Western societies the chicken became the primary source of eggs. The growth of the egg industry in selected countries from 1965 to 1995 is shown in Table 1. The egg production in China amounted to almost 50% of total egg production in the world in 1995 and is continuing to increase at a rate greater than world average.

Until relatively recent times the keeping of chickens on farms was generally only a sideline to the main business of farm operation. Commercial egg farms became a primary source of farm income only in the last century. Large poultry farm operations for egg production did not become common until the last half of the twentieth century. The change in size of egg production units in the United States is shown in the data presented in Table 2. Data for recent years are not available in a form as presented in Table 2. However, a 1995 survey indicated that less than 1% of all eggs produced in the United States were from flocks of less than 1000 layers. In 1997 there were less than 350 egg-producing farms with more than 75,000 laying hens.

Table 2. Changes in Size of Laying Flocks in the United States from 1959 to 1974

Size of flock

Percentage of all eggs sold

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