At The Farm
The laying barns at Sparks Egg Farms have two types of hens – White Leghorns, which produce white eggs, and Rhode Island Red hens, which produce brown eggs.
Today, our farm's production is highly automated because there is a great demand for eggs and it is impossible to keep up otherwise.
The Advantages of Automation
During World War II, the world saw an increase in demand for poultry and eggs. To meet the nutritional needs of more people on the same amount of land, and with fewer workers, required new breeding, feeding and management methods. This triggered the development of modern production practices, moving hens from straw floors and farm yards to cages in highly automated barns.
Animal welfare was not a primary concern in those early years, but continued advancements have allowed the industry to focus on the care and comfort of poultry, as well as issues affecting food quality.
Sparks Egg Farms has made the health, welfare and security of our hens a top priority. Our hens are housed in clean, well ventilated buildings where temperature, humidity and lighting are controlled for year-round comfort. Control systems regulate heat, light and humidity for day and nighttime patterns. Music is sometimes piped in to help soothe the flock.
Even manure management is much easier in an automated system. Cage and flooring designs allow waste to drop directly into a manure disposal pit, keeping both the eggs and hens clean and safe from parasites.
When eggs are laid they automatically roll from cages onto conveyer belts for prompt collection and refrigeration, minimizing the need for human disruption of the hens’ environment.
The conveyor belt gently carries the eggs to a central packing area and places them in sanitized flats with the wide end up to keep the yolk centered. Flats are then placed on pallets and stored immediately in a cooler or cool room and chilled to 10° to 13° C. At this temperature, eggs retain their freshness and quality while awaiting shipment to a registered grading station - usually within four days.
A Working Life
The average laying hen produces more than 280 eggs a year. Hens begin egg production at five to six months (19 weeks) of age and continue to lay for at least 12 months. The average registered egg producer cares for about 9000 hens. By having different flocks of hens at different ages, egg producers have a steady supply of eggs to market and a stable year-round income. This also keeps egg prices at a consistent level!
The most popular breed for egg production in Canada today is the White Leghorn - a small, light bird that lays far more eggs than its ancestors. Each stage of the hen's development cycle requires specialized care and attention. Chicks are hatched at hatcheries, raised in pullet operations (pullets are hens less than 19 weeks of age), and then transferred to producers. Some producers run their own pullet operations.
Wild birds lay only in springtime when daylight hours are increasing. To stimulate laying hens to lay eggs all year round, lighting is maintained for 14 to 17 hours a day.
In addition to light, a well balanced diet, fresh water and comfortable surroundings are essential for hen health and egg production. A hen's diet consists of grains, proteins, vitamins, minerals and plenty of fresh water.
Every aspect from feed to egg collection is controlled and monitored so the hen has a comfortable, safe environment.
A Word from our Poultry Specialist
Ken Severson is the Nutrition and Poultry Specialist for Sparks Egg Farms. Ken takes care to make sure the hens and pullets are fed a balanced diet, and to safeguard their health and welfare.
The 4 Pillars
At Sparks Egg Farms we respect 4 important pillars of responsibility.
Read more on 4 Pillars
Our new facility in Westlock, Alberta, is a proud example of our strong commitment to sustainability.