From coast to coast, more than 1000 farm families produce the eggs we find in our stores. 26 of those farmers are located right here in Nova Scotia! The eggs we buy in our stores come from farms that are committed to some of the highest standards of egg production in the world.
The journey of the egg begins at the hatchery where fertilized eggs from breeding flocks are placed in special incubators. Twenty-one days later these eggs hatch into baby chicks! The chicks are then homed in a pullet barn, a special barn for young hens. The chicks stay here for 19 weeks until they mature into hens. Once this happens, they move again to their new home in the laying barn and begin laying eggs.
Preparing for a new flock means a lot of preparation. This is a busy time for the egg farmer and farm hands. Before the new flock can move in the barn is thoroughly cleaned and all equipment is inspected to ensure it is in working order. Once the new flock has moved in the farmers check the barn daily to make sure their hens are healthy and comfortable.
Eggs are delicious no matter which way you cook them. But did you know that making sure the egg is always nutritious takes work? It does! That’s why egg farmers work with nutrition specialist to ensure hens receive a balanced diet consisting of grains, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Wheat, corn, barley, rye and oats in the feed provide energy and are also sources of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Legumes (like soybeans and peas), and oilseed (like canola and flax) are more concentrated sources of dietary protein and fat.
Regardless of the mix of ingredients, feed for laying hens in Canada is always free of added steroids and hormones. And, antibiotics are not required for egg production. Egg farmers in Nova Scotia and across the country follow feed regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Did you know? A hen’s diet can change the colour of the yolks egg! For example, corn-based diets, more common here on the east coast, make for a darker coloured yolk? How neat is that!
Did you know that brown eggs come from hens with brown feathers, and white eggs come from hens with white feathers? It is that simple!
You may also want to know that eggs aren’t just delicious, they are extremely nutritious! Eggs are an excellent source of protein and provide a number of essential nutrients. In fact, eggs are one of natures most nutritious foods. One large egg is only 70 calories and 5 grams of fat. It also contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and provides 14 essential nutrients such as vitamins A,D,and E , folate, iron, zinc, and choline. This means eating eggs is good for your bones, teeth, skin and eyes!
Eggs travel from the farm to the grading station registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Here the eggs are washed, gently scrubbed and dried to clear away the dirt and bacteria from the shell. Egg quality is then examined using a process called “candling” where the egg passes over a bright light, revealing the condition of the shell, the size of the air cell and whether the yolk is well centered. The eggs are then separated into grades based on predetermined criteria, packaged according to their weight and delivered to the store.
Eggs are washed and candled to verify they meet Canadian standards for liquid and dried egg products at the breaking station. An automated machine, called a “breaker”, breaks the eggshell and in some cases separates the yolks from the whites.
These eggs are then pasteurized and processed into liquid or powdered form to be used in restaurants and bakeries or to make other products like mayonnaise!
Eggs travel from the grading station to the store in a refrigerated truck. The eggs are kept under refrigeration at the store and are carefully rotated to ensure the eggs that arrive first are the first ones sold.
Standing in front of the egg cases today, you might be in awe of the variety. We, as Canadians, are fortunate to have such a selection of eggs to choose from. And to know every choice is a great one!
Visit our types of eggs page to read more about the eggs you can buy in stores.
You have just bought some fresh, local, high-quality Grade A eggs – and now what?
Make sure to store your eggs in the carton in the body of the fridge. This helps keep your eggs a consistent temperature. By keeping the original carton, their porous shell will not take on the smell of other foods in your fridge and you will always know the best before date!
Whether you like them boiled, poached or over-easy, eggs are a snap to cook, and there are many delicious and nutritious ways to enjoy them! Browse our recipe collection for some egg-filled inspiration.