Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska
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Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska
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Nebraska Poultry and Egg Production

Nebraska Poultry

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.

For more information on poultry farming in Nebraska, check out these links:

Key points about animal welfare:

  • Top management must sign off on the program.
  • Company must have a person or management group in charge of animal welfare throughout company.
  • Those involved in handling live animals must be trained annually.
  • Abuse of the animals is not tolerated under any circumstances.
  • Stocking density is limited based on size of the individual bird.
  • Ammonia in atmosphere and moisture in litter are limited.
  • Humane handling required at catching.
  • Wing and leg damage are limited and monitored.
  • Birds protected from extremes of temperature in transportation and holding and provided with ventilation.
  • All birds must be dead before entering the scalder.
  • Culled birds to be humanely euthanized.
  • “Major non-conformance” (live chicken in hatchery waste, abuse of birds, live bird in DOA bin, live bird through scalder) results in audit failure until problem is corrected.

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