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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Microbiological and Product Quality Consequences of Housing Laying Hens in Production Systems

Location: Egg Safety and Quality

Title: Impact of commercial housing system on egg quality during extended storage

Authors
item Jones, Deana
item Karcher, D -
item Abdo, Zaid

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 29, 2014
Publication Date: May 1, 2014
Citation: Jones, D.R., Karcher, D.M., Abdo, Z. 2014. Impact of commercial housing system on egg quality during extended storage. Poultry Science. 93:1282-1288.

Interpretive Summary: A variety of hen housing systems are used in U.S. egg production. The impact of the various housing systems on egg quality, as defined by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service standards and other quality assessments, is unclear. A collaborative study was undertaken to ascertain if egg quality during extended cold storage was impacted by hen housing system. Various egg quality measurements were conducted on a bi-weekly basis during 12 weeks of refrigerated storage. It was determined that the rate of egg quality decline during extended storage is not impacted by housing system and that current federal egg quality standards should adequately describe eggs from conventional cage, as well as enriched colony cage and cage-free aviary production systems.

Technical Abstract: U.S. egg producers are utilizing a variety of commercial egg production systems to provide consumer choice and meet legislative requirements. U.S. consumer egg grades were developed for conventional cage production and it is unclear what impact alternative production systems might have on egg quality during retail and consumer home storage. The current study was undertaken to determine what changes in egg quality characteristics occur during extended cold storage for commercially produced conventional cage, enriched colony cage, and cage-free aviary eggs. During 12 wks of cold storage, egg weight, albumen height, Haugh unit, static compression shell strength, vitelline membrane strength and deformation, yolk index, shell dynamic stiffness, and whole egg total solids were monitored. Overall, aviary and enriched eggs were significantly (P < 0.05) heavier than conventional cage. Albumen height and Haugh unit (P < 0.05) were significantly greater for conventional cage than enriched eggs. Static compression shell strength was greatest (P < 0.05) for enriched eggs compared to aviary. There were no overall housing system impacts for yolk measurements, shell dynamic stiffness, or whole egg total solids. Albumen height, Haugh unit, and yolk quality measurements were all greatest at 0 wk and lowest at 12 wk of storage (P < 0.05). The rate of quality change amongst the housing systems for each measured attribute at 4, 6, and 12 wk was determined. Other than differences in the change of egg weight at 4 wk, no significant differences in the rate of quality decline was found amongst the housing systems. The results of the current study indicate that current U.S. egg quality standards should effectively define quality for commercially produced conventional cage, enriched colony cage, and cage-free aviary eggs.

Last Modified: 11/21/2014
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