A Page in Time
Post-world war two changes in the Egg Industry
“There is the story of a man who borrowed a dozen eggs from one of his neighbours and a broody hen from another. After the eggs were hatched he kept the broody hen long enough for her to lay a dozen eggs and then returned her to her owner, and gave the dozen eggs back to the man from whom he borrowed the setting of eggs. ”The South African Poultry Book, 1944.
Once again it is not as easy as all that today. Pullet quality is probably the most important single profitability aspect, because even under very average conditions a wellreared bird will perform well, whereas an inferior pullet will not give results with the best management, feed and housing available.
A large number of factors in addition to egg numbers and mass contribute to the ideal pullet, such as feed conversion, mortality, live-ability, egg size, shell and internal quality, colour, etc.
Strangely enough, the South African egg producer is still reluctant to pay for quality, and properly reared birds. In one of the latest random sample tests the top entry gave a calculated gross egg income of R545 per 100 birds, and the lowest R425, with an average of R498. Surely and extra R10 per 100 day-old pullets is well worthwhile, as it can mean the eventual difference between a profit and a loss.
It is, however, not only the chicken that counts, but also management programs and technical assistance from the breeder. Notwithstanding the reluctance of the buyer to pay for quality, profound changes took place and gradually good poultry husbandry was replaced by the application of sound genetic principles. In 1965 some 185 different types of laying hens competed in the USA random sample tests, whereas in 1972/73 these were reduced to 38, including only two of the original types. In South Africa, trends were similar and in the latest Glen test only 7 breeders have entered, against 19 in the 1970/72 test. In the latter test entries consisted basically of White Leghorns crossed with Rode Islands, New Hampshires or Black Australops (44 entries), whereas in the current entry only 3 such birds are included and such names as Supertint, Golden Blonde, Hybrid Golds, etc. are now prevalent.
Another major development is the switchover to properly reared point of lay pullets purchased from specialist rearers, instead of buying day-olds. Here again results and not prices are of primary importance. “If you house a poor quality pullet there is nothing you can do to make that pullet perform and you have to live with her for the next year. ”Poultry International. January 1976.
Correct egg sizes have to be tailored to the needs of the individual marketer and can only lead to financial losses if you have a bird – even if a top performer in other respects – giving 50% extra large when your marketing needs are only for 25% extra large or vice versa. Similarly shell quality, incidence of blood and meat spots, solids content, etc. are all factors of economic importance for the man who is producing for the market.
“As a rule 5 to 6 dozen eggs are required to pay for the feed of one hen, so that all she lays over the 5,5 dozen can be counted as profit – that is if your average production is up to 144.” – South African Poultry Book, 1944.
A pity that times have changed in this respect as well, because at today’s production levels all poultry farmers could have become millionaires in a short space of time.¡