Are you a small scale chicken egg producer in the Philippines? Then this advice is meant for you. We offer you some simple guidelines on how you can produce safe and healthy eggs for consumption and still make money from your small venture. If you are going to attract and retain a cadre of loyal customers for your poultry products, then you must adhere to certain quality standards in your production system. For success, you need to understand how you can produce safe and healthy poultry eggs that will meet the demand of your buyers and also potential legal obligations.
Eggs are highly nutritious and are some of the most abundant sources of proteins for many families, including wealthy and poorer Filipino families. This is because it is fairly easy to produce and it is also very affordable.
However, if the eggs are not well taken care of, they have the potential to cause illnesses. If the eggs have been contaminated with bacteria, then they will likely cause food poisoning.
The eggs that you sell to the marketplace must be intact, clean and fresh. Don’t hoard the eggs. Generally, the sell by date for eggs is typically 30 days after they have been laid. You need to handle your eggs very carefully so as to avoid the cracks. If the eggs are cracked or dirty, then the risk of contamination for the internal contents of the egg are fairly high. These eggs are highly likely to cause illnesses when they are consumed.
The conditions in which the chickens are raised is generally a breeding ground for bacteria. These include the bacteria that live in the dirt, the birds droppings and the feathers of the birds. If the eggs are poorly handled and exhibit cracks, these bacteria will find their way into the internal contents of the egg via these cracks. You might not always see these cracks because some of them are too fine. After the bacteria have invaded the contents of the egg, they are going to multiply fairly rapidly and when this egg is consumed, there is a high chance that it is going to cause sickness.
In order to avoid contaminating the eggs that have been produced at home, you have to handle them carefully so as to avoid cracks. You must also observe the highest standards of hygiene so as to avoid contaminating the eggs and contributing to the build up of bacteria.
If you are producing eggs in your backyard for the local market in the Philippines, you still have to maintain the highest quality standards. Understand the various pathways through which egg contamination occurs and learn how you can manage these hazards so as to sell safe and healthy eggs to your buyers.
The bacteria that is most associated with eggs is salmonella. When it gets into the body, this bacteria generally creates severe illnesses especially among kids and the elderly. Other groups of people who are vulnerable to salmonella are sick people and those with weak immune systems. There cases where severe infections caused by salmonella can cause death.
Your Responsibility as an Egg producer in the Philippines
If you are selling eggs for human consumption, it is important to adhere with the following requirements and best practices:-
Don’t sell dirty and cracked eggs
All of us have a profit motive. We want to maximize profits from our poultry egg production venture in the Philippines. However, selling eggs which are cracked or which contain chicken droppings on the outer shell is simply unethical as you are exposing a lot of people to risk of disease. Cracked eggs must never be sold for human consumption. The eggs that you collect from your chickens must be very clean.
One way to reduce the number of dirty eggs produced is by regularly changing the nesting material and replacing them with clean and fresh ones. A lot of contamination occurs on the floor of laying nests or poultry house. For clean eggs, the nesting materials must be clean most of the time. The nesting boxes should not be placed close to the roosting poles or perching area.
Good record keeping so as to ensure traceability
This is especially important if you are venturing into commercial poultry production in the Philippines. With proper record keeping, you will be able to easily trace the sources of disease outbreaks in your flock, for example.
Keep good records of daily egg production so that you can determine the performance of your layers. This will also allow you to determine when the egg production drops so that you can make the necessary interventions. Keep records of sales of your eggs to the various local buyers such as distributors , wholesalers, cafes, restaurants, breeders etc. It is good to keep the evidence of sales such as the invoices, entries on diaries as well as the delivery dockets. This will give you a clear idea of who your customers are.
Selling your eggs to the public at the market or farm gate
To sell your eggs to the public, you will likely need written permission from the local council. Check to establish that. In the market, you will have to pay the council rates.
Egg production hazards in the Philippines and how to manage them
As a home based or backyard egg producer, you are solely responsible for managing the hazards associated with egg production from the time the eggs are laid to the time they reach the marketplace. Here are some of the best practices that you can keep in mind so as to manage the egg production hazards effectively to make sure your eggs are safe for human consumption:-
Take good care of your chickens: You have to take good care of your chickens on a daily basis. Feed them regularly with high quality feeds during their laying period, provide clean and fresh drinking water. If there are sick birds, isolate them and make sure they have been given veterinary attention as soon as possible. Discard the eggs that have been laid by the birds that are sick or which appear sick. When giving the birds medication when they are laying eggs, verify the withholding period and discard the eggs that have been laid during that period.
The shed should be kept as clean as possible at all times. All broken eggs and manure should be removed as quickly as possible. Change the nesting on laying nest on a regular basis.
Egg Collection: It is important to collect the eggs at least daily. In warmer weather, collect the eggs more frequently. Remember that the more time the eggs spend in the laying nest, the greater the risk of contamination. Avoid supplying cracked or dirty eggs to your buyers. If the eggs are cracked, discard them as there is a high likelihood that the eggs contain Salmonella. If you have no idea how old the eggs you are collected are, don’t sell them. Always supply the market with fresh eggs at all times.
How to handle and clean your eggs: Before and after you have handled the eggs , wash your hands so as to avoid spreading bacteria. Eggs that have been lightly soiled should be cleaned with a clean, abrasive and dry cloth. The cleaning cloths should be sanitised and disposed of on a regular basis.
Please keep in mind that it is generally not advisable to wet wash the eggs produced home due to the increased risk of contamination unless the washing condition is controlled very closely. Wet washing eggs generally removes the protective cuticle on the egg shell and this can create pathway through which bacteria will enter the inside of the egg.
Check the eggs for faults
One of the best ways to check the eggs for any fault is by candling the eggs. After candling the eggs, get rid of those that contain hairline cracks, those that have thinner shells or any visible fault on the egg shells. Candling the eggs involves placing them in front of a bright light that can penetrate the eggs and make the contents of the egg visible. Candling can reveal some of the finest cracks that could not have been seen by ordinary viewing of the egg.
Packaging and Labelling Your Eggs
You should store and sell your eggs in clean packaging that is not damaged. Avoid reusing the egg cartons as this is like to cause the contamination of the eggs. As previously stated on this website, labelling of the eggs should include the following:-
- Your Full Name, Phone Number and email address if you have one
- A sell by date. It is generally advisable to sell your eggs at least 30 days after they have been laid. Some recommend 30-35 days after the eggs have been packed.
- Include a form of identification to serve as batch number if you will be selling for the large retailers in the Philippines. If you are supplying large retailers such as supermarkets, do so in new cartons that do not contain information from another producer.
Storing and Transportation of Eggs
When storing your eggs, do it in such a way that the newest and fresh eggs are at the bottom and the oldest are at the front and are used first. Remember that sell by date requirement so you should push the older eggs into the market as quickly as possible.
During the storage and the transportation, the eggs should be kept in a cool environment. Typically, temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius are preferred. The ideal place to store your eggs is in the fridge.
Don’t leave the eggs exposed to direct sunlight or to any sources of heat even for a short duration of time. For example, don’t store the eggs close to a stove or behind a fridge.
During egg storage, try as much as possible to avoid the large temperature fluctuations. Large fluctuations in temperatures will generally lead to condensation on the egg surface which can in turn lead to surface bacteria moving inside the egg shell.
In case you doubt the condition or sell by date of the eggs, simply discard them. The eggs that you take to the market should be fresh and in excellent condition.