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Study in Spain Evaluates Lifetime Assessment of Egg Production Sustainability

04/11/2018

A recently published peer-reviewed article evaluated egg production in a 55,000-hen unit in Asturias, Spain.* Research was conducted by the Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, University of Oviedo.  The Study evaluated inputs including feed, water, electrical power, replacement pullets, transport and packaging material.  Greenhouse gas emissions were calculated and the environmental footprint of the farm was characterized including waste and manure, eggs produced and depleted layers.  Taking into account all inputs and production, the study determined that 2.66 kg carbon dioxide equivalents were liberated for each dozen eggs sold.

 

Water consumption and disinfectants for cleaning did not contribute materially to the total impact of egg production.  Feed was the largest source of greenhouse gasses.  Benefits were obtained by recycling depleted hens for meat production.

 

This comprehensive study could serve as a valuable model and benchmark for determining the environmental impact of egg production since it takes into account transport and packaging material which may not have not been considered in other published studies.

 

Unfortunately, the results are not necessarily applicable to the U.S.  The subject farm housed 55,000 hens.  Theoretically, egg production should have attained 16 million at a nominal 80 percent.  The report indicates that the farm produced 13 million eggs corresponding to an average egg production of 65 percent.  Flocks were presumably confined to enriched colony cages which again does not reflect U.S. production practice.

 

 

*Abin, R., Laca, A. and Diaz, M. Environmental assessment of intensive egg production: A Spanish case study.  Journal of Cleaner Production. doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.01.067