[ Back to EurekAlert! ]


[ | E-mail ] Share Share

Contact: Egg Media Hotline
Edelman Public Relations

Landmark egg production study reveals reduction in environmental impact over past 50 years

Today's egg production is more efficient than previous decades and leaves a smaller environmental footprint

PARK RIDGE, Ill., (January 24, 2014) – A new study published in Poultry Science shows that while U.S. egg production has increased over the past 50 years, the industry has also been able to significantly decrease its environmental footprint. Researchers conducted a lifecycle analysis of U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010 to evaluate environmental performance measures for the complete lifecycle from crops to hens to the farm gate. Study findings indicate that the environmental efficiencies are the result of a wide range of factors, including the reduction of natural resource use, improved hen feed, better disease control and advancements in hen housing systems.

"The U.S. egg industry has evolved remarkably over the past five decades by incorporating new technologies to protect natural resources," said Hongwei Xin, agricultural and biosystems engineering and animal science professor at Iowa State University, director of the Egg Industry Center and the study's lead researcher. "Egg farmers have improved their production practices, allowing them to provide an affordable source of high-quality protein while using fewer resources and producing less waste."

Key results of the study found that compared to 1960:

A Closer Look at the Findings

Due to increased feed efficiency, advancements in hen housing and manure management, egg farms now use less water and energy on a daily basis and release less polluting emissions. Every aspect of the egg production process, from cultivating feed to raising the laying hens, has led to a reduced environmental footprint.

Looking Ahead

With the growing U.S. population and egg demand on the rise, egg farmers play an important role in providing an abundant and affordable source of high-quality protein.

"The U.S. population has increased by 72 percent over the past 50 years, but efficiencies in egg production have enabled us to meet the demands of the growing population with just 18 percent more hens, while also leaving a smaller environmental footprint," said Bob Krouse, an egg farmer for Midwest Poultry Services in Indiana. "Egg farmers are now in a position to help fulfill the growing need for an affordable and nutritious source of protein in an environmentally responsible manner."

Egg farmers are dedicated to providing safe, nutritious food while maintaining the highest quality care for their hens. At the same time, farmers understand the importance of protecting the land, water and air for their communities and future generations, and they are always looking to identify ways for continued improvement. Efforts to further improve feed efficiency, hen housing facilities and manure management will facilitate even greater environmental footprint reductions in the future.


The study was funded by the American Egg Board, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the United Egg Association -- Allied and the Egg Industry Center. To obtain data for 2010, researchers conducted anonymous surveys with egg farmers and collected data on 57.1 million young hens and 92.5 million laying hens. For more information visit http://www.incredibleegg.org or to read the full text of the study visit http://www.poultryscience.org.

About the American Egg Board (AEB)

AEB is the U.S. egg producer's link to the consumer in communicating the value of the incredible edible egg™ and is funded from a national legislative check-off on all egg production from companies with greater than 75,000 layers in the continental United States. The board consists of 18 members and 18 alternates from all regions of the country who are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The AEB staff carries out the programs under the board's direction. AEB is located in Park Ridge, Ill. Visit http://www.incredibleegg.org/good-egg-project to learn where eggs come from and how you can help fight childhood hunger alongside America's egg farmers.

About the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is an all-feather organization representing the complete spectrum of today's poultry industry, with a focus on progressively serving member companies through research, education, communication, and technical assistance. Founded in 1947, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is based in Tucker, GA.

About the United Egg Association – Allied (UEA – Allied)

The United Egg Association – Allied is a trade association representing those who provide products, services, consulting and/or information services. UEA Allied was organized in January 1995 as a trade association representing companies or individuals that are engaged in providing products, services, consulting and/or information services to the egg industry but do not produce eggs or engage in the processing of eggs into egg products. UEA Allied members, who in many cases, have office or manufacturing in urban areas, help egg farmers expand the communication with state and federal legislation.

About the Egg Industry Center

Established in 2008, the Egg Industry Center adds value to the egg industry by facilitating research and learning for egg producers, processors and consumers through national and international collaboration. The vision of the Egg Industry Center is to assist a thriving egg industry in advancing egg production, processing and product development, building a new paradigm for how research is conducted, and improving society's understanding and value of egg producers' contributions to the economy, environment, community, and consumer health and well-being. Visit http://www.eggindustrycenter.org for more information.

[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.