A Page in Time

AU­GUST 1976

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

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.¡

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