Ohio a leader in egg farming
Story by Sarah Allen
No Easter is complete without coloring eggs — though the journey from the hens to the dye cups is far from a simple one. But, in Ohio, farmers are at the top of the game when it comes to eggs.
Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association, described the role Ohio plays in egg production.
“Ohio is one of the largest egg farming states in the nation, producing more than 9 billion eggs each year with a value of nearly $480 million,” he said. “Ohio egg farmers are proud to provide Ohioans with high-quality, wholesome eggs and achieve this by making egg safety and hen care a top priority on their farms.”
The poultry association website further explains how the egg has become a staple in Ohio agriculture. It states that egg production is responsible for the creation of 12,503 jobs and results in $438 million in annual earnings. And all of that comes from the 33 million hens laying throughout the state.
And just one of the many farms across the state producing those eggs is Prairie Star Farms in Darke County.
Leah Knapke, with the farms, described how the eggs travel from the hens to the stores.
“Once a chicken lays an egg, it gets carried on conveyor belts through the egg process,” she said.
She added that chickens lay around five to six eggs per week. “So a little less than one per day,” Knapke said.
Next, she said, “Eggs are washed, graded for size and quality, and then separated by a machine to be packed into whatever the end product will be. There are on-site USDA inspectors who grade the eggs to ensure safe, quality and fresh eggs.”
IncredibleEgg.org offers additional insight into egg quality control. Eggs go through a process called “candling,” which means that they are held up to a light source and inspected. Since the shells are translucent, the eggs’ interiors can be inspected for quality without actually breaking the shell.
Knapke explained that, after an egg is in its proper packaging, it is “brought to a large cooler that must be maintained at a specific temperature to keep the eggs fresh.”
“From there, refrigerated trucks pick up the eggs and deliver them to their final destination,” she said.
But this time of the year, eggs take on a special, magical quality — after all, what else would the Easter Bunny hide?
Knapke offered this advice when it comes to getting eggs ready for the holiday.
“The fresher an egg, the harder it is to peel after it is boiled/dyed,” she said. “The ideal age for hard boiling is between seven and 10 days old.”
But making the perfect eggs for Easter all starts on the farm.
“Egg farming is much more complex than most people understand,” Knapke said. “But in the end, an egg is an egg.”
And those eggs, whether for breakfast or for holiday fun, have safely found their place in the Buckeye State.
To learn more about egg production, visit www.ohiopoultry.org or www.incredibleegg.org.