How to produce organic eggs – Η διαδικασία παραγωγής βιολογικών αυγών

Hello! I am called George Constantinides and we are at Ygea Farm, in Cyprus. The Farm began its operations in October, 2015. We have been subsidized by both the European Union and Cyprus Government for the creation of the farm. Here, we produce organic eggs, organic oil, aromatic plants and a small amount of honey. As it has been mentioned, part of our work at Ygea Farm constitutes the production of aromatic plants. We basically use those aromatic plants for their blossoms, thus securing pollen for our bees. Simultaneously, we use sage and oregano to feed the hens. We also cultivate rosemary, exclusively for beehives. Moreover, we cultivate oregano, of which the blossom is being used for cooking while its leaves are being used for the feeding of the hens. Accordingly we try to cultivate each plant with the aim to serve at the same time multiple operations, using it for apiculture, human consumption, as well as for the feeding of hens. Taking into consideration the fact that a bee is able to fly up to three kilometers away from the hive, we have been trying to produce within the farm the necessary amount of food for the bee in order to keep our bees inside the farm, thus guaranteeing an excellent quality honey. We have been confident that within the next three years we will have managed to produce various species of aromatic plants which are flowering in different periods of the years, therefore setting as the final aim to meet the bee’s nutritional needs throughout the year. When we had started with the egg production, we aimed to get a product that is ‘as close as possible’ to nature. To reach such target, we knew we should incorporate as a daily habit, a beneficial diet for our hens. After research, we came to the conclusion that organic barley grass is very beneficial for the nutrition of hens. Consequently, we proceeded with the creation of this chamber here, therefore producing three hundred and twenty kilos -approximately- per day. This is a seven-day old barley grass. The hens tend to eat the seed, the root and all the green part on top. The green part of the barley grass is what gives the yellow color to the egg yolk. If the hens do not consume grass, the egg yolk will not have a bright colour . Another reason for cultivating barley grass is that we can use limited amount of water daily, which is being estimated to 24-25 L for the production of three hundred and twenty kilos of grass. And if we also take into account the high levels of drought in Cyprus, this is also an ideal scenario from a water-saving perspective. Every day, we begin with filling up the trays with barley. If you look inwards you can see that all the trays are full with barley grass. For instance, this is a five-day old barley grass. By tomorrow, when it will have been completed, the grass will look like this. Subsequently, those trays will be placed within the chambers in which chickens are hosted. At a later stage, you will have the opportunity to see where the completed product ends up. When practicing bio-cultivation, water recycling constitutes a prohibited function. And exactly for that reason the trays have holes at the bottom, so as the water recedes, thus preventing it from being re-used. This is one of the most important regulations that apply to organic farmers. In other words, we are not entitled to implement hydroponics by re-using the same water. We have been transferred to Chamber 2, in which the youngest flock is being hosted. Those hens are thirty weeks old. Their specie is being called ‘Isa brown’, an English breed which we import from Netherlands, by plane, when the chicks are only one day old. The small houses you can see are where the hens lay their eggs every morning. This happens with the first light of the day. Subsequently, we collect all the eggs of the chamber by using the white conveyor belt. We will monitor this process later on. This chamber contains approximately two thousand hens, which give us one thousand eight hundred eggs on a daily basis. Downhill floors have been located at the bottom of the houses, thus allowing the eggs rolling in the middle of each nest and then falling onto the white conveyor belt; accordingly, when we are ready to collect the eggs we just have to put the strap into operation and transfer the eggs towards this particular table. In Chamber Two we use the green trays, in Chamber One the orange ones and in Chamber Three the red ones. The reason we do that is to remain aware of the chamber from which each of the eggs comes from. This facilitates the process in case we encounter particular problems with the appearance of the eggs. Barley grass constitutes a part of the diet of our hens. We use approximately one hundred and twenty kilos of barley grass for each chamber. Barley grass contains various beneficial substances while it is a small part of chickens’ diet, 10-15 grams per day for each hen. The rest is being composed of organic chicken feed imported from Greece, which does not contain anything genetically modified. This implies that the organic cereals contained within the feed, such as vetch, pea or soy have not been sprayed with any pesticides, and does not contain any coloring matter that modifies the color of the egg yolk, such as carotene. As it had been mentioned, the color of the egg derives merely from the grass with which hens are fed. And this is the reason why in organic eggs the color of the egg yolk is usually dark yellow. During the Winter period, the egg yolk in organic eggs becomes orange, due to the abundance of grass in such wet seasons. All the farm eggs end up in the packing room. Through this particular machine that we can see here we weigh the eggs and subsequently add a unique farm code to the eggs. At a later stage, when the eggs pass under the light, the farmer attempts to detect any dirt or even any egg cracking. While the eggs go through the printer our farm code is being recorded. As far as our code is concerned, the zero implies that the egg is an organic one ‘CY’ indicates the country of origin (Cyprus), and 4152 constitutes the serial number of this particular packing room. Subsequently, ‘69’ indicates the serial number of Ygea Farm. As I mentioned before, zero (0) is being used for the organic eggs, number one (1) is being used for the free-ranger eggs, number two (2) is being used for the barn eggs, while number three (3) corresponds to the cage eggs. After being weighed, the eggs are automatically separated, depending on their weight. The first lane is for the ‘extra-large’ eggs that weigh more than 74 grams the second lane for ‘large’ eggs, between 64 to 73 grams the third lane for the medium, between 54 to 63. The small eggs of the fourth lane weigh less than 53 grams. Depending on the time of the year, we tend to produce different sizes of eggs. In Winter for instance, we tend to produce bigger eggs, as due to the ideal temperature conditions, our chickens tend to produce bigger eggs, as due to the ideal temperature conditions, our chickens tend to consume an ideal amount of food. Contrariwise, during the Summer, hens tend to eat less and as a result they produce medium-sized eggs. Lastly, the eggs are being put in special boxes, the ones you can find in supermarkets, bakeries and organic shops. For instance, this particular box I am now holding contains medium-sized eggs of category ‘A’. On the box it is stated that, this is a Cypriot product certified by Lacon that it has to be consumed the latest by the indicated date, always written on the box. The box has been carefully selected with the aim to facilitate the process of separation of the eggs in a way that they do not touch each other, thus being prevented from cracking. Our tour in the Ygea Farm has now been completed. Organic farming requires sacrifices whilst involving many challenges. However, regardless of any difficulties he might encounter the farmer gives his best by putting all his attention and effort to the production of a distinct egg of high-quality.

3 thoughts on “How to produce organic eggs – Η διαδικασία παραγωγής βιολογικών αυγών

  1. Άκουσα σε κάποιο πρόγραμμα του YouTube ότι βάζουν στις κότες βούκοβο .
    Τι είναι το βούκοβο στην κυπριακή διάλεκτο δεν κατάλαβα.

    Από Κύπρο

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *