Poultry products – including eggs, chicken and turkey meat – are a healthy part of the diets of most Americans. Poultry farmers are committed to caring for their animals, which entails making sure their poultry live in a safe, humane and comfortable environment. Egg farmers follow guidelines to ensure hens are provided with nutritious feed, clean water, proper lighting and fresh air. These guidelines place top priority on comfort, health and safety.
At the beginning of a pullet's (a young female chicken) life in the hatchery, she is vaccinated to prevent future diseases. On the farm, pullets will be grown in cages until they are moved to a laying facility at 16 to 17 weeks of age.
A laying hen begins laying eggs at approximately 18 weeks of age. By the end of her first year, a hen may have produced upwards of 200 eggs.
The hen reaches peak egg production within four to six weeks after she begins to lay eggs. They lay their eggs in a controlled environment that helps ensure the production of high-quality eggs.
On some farms, eggs are still gathered by hand. But in most of today’s modern production facilities, automated gathering belts do the job.
After being collected, the eggs are washed, graded, sorted, and placed in cartons. The eggs are then shipped in refrigerated trucks to grocery stores or to be processed further.
Hens are fed high-quality, nutritionally balanced feed made up mostly of corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals.
Broilers are chickens raised primarily for meat production. It typically takes six to eight weeks before broilers weigh five to eight pounds and are ready for market.
Raising turkeys takes more time than raising broilers, as turkeys take longer to mature. A turkey is sent to market between 15-25 weeks of age when they weigh 35-40 pounds.
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