UNDER STRICT OBSERVATION
Egg production at the Gauthiers’ farm strangely resembles that of a modern factory: each step of the production follows a meticulously followed protocol. Like any production chain, operations start with chick orders. These hatchlings are raised in one of the farm’s dedicated buildings until they reach laying age.
Once they have matured, the hens are transferred by lot to the main building, which is entirely automatized for laying. They are sorted by age group to optimize bird management since each lot of one-, six- or ten-month old layers behave differently, producing distinct categories of eggs. To ensure homogeneous eggs that meet customer expectations, the layers’ feed must be rigorously fine-tuned.
To ensure unwavering quality in the flock’s feed, the company has chosen to invest in a mill to make their own poultry feed. Located in the centre of the poultry houses, this mill blows the adapted feed to the birds through underground or aerial tubing. Totally automatic mechanization gains a maximum efficiency and improves the flock’s well-being.
At the Gauthiers’ egg farm, the day starts around 7 a.m. when the grading and candling employees arrive. At the same time, egg collection begins according to the layers’ age group, as does pre-grading, which takes place in a modern building adjacent to the poultry house where the farm’s 32,000 layers are located.
Since collection is totally automatic, only one person is needed to oversee the eggs’ arrival in the pre-grading room. These eggs are then put into refrigerated storage. About 30% will then be shipped immediately and the remainder will be directed to the Gauthiers’ grading room, which is located just a few hundred meters from the production site.
The eggs sorted in the morning were laid the day before. By late morning, this operation is finished and the eggs are ready for shipping. Every morning six days a week, no fewer than 24,000 eggs have been candled and graded, a rate of 7,000 eggs per hour. Each egg is examined closely by a three-person team, who leverages all the benefit of their modern equipment.
Egg production and, more specifically, egg marketing is increasingly regulated by federal standards, which are among the world’s most rigorous, and the unforgiving laws of the retail market.
Data on all farm operations-from the raising of the chicks to the delivery of the eggs at the retailer-is entered and compiled. For any given year, the Gauthiers are able to pull up data on the company’s activity, the recipes for any lot of layers and their eggs from the hen laying rows to the client. They can also easily access information gathered during observation of their flocks and eggs.