A chicken lays an egg. You eat an egg for breakfast. But what happens in between? A virtual field trip to Hertzfeld Poultry Farms showed us how eggs get from the chicken to you! This was the latest Chickenology VFT, sponsored by Ohio Soybean Council, GrowNextGen, and Ohio Poultry Association.

Our host was Jenna Gregorich, Bird Health Programs Manager for the Ohio Poultry Association. She spoke with Jordan and Thomas Hertzfeld about the family-run operation. They have approximately 1,000,000 laying hens on the farm in Grand Rapids, Ohio and an additional 300,000 at other locations in Ohio for a total of 1,300,000.

When a chicken lays an egg in one of the 8 barns, it rolls down to a belt which carries the egg into the processing room. Eggs are washed to clean outside of egg according to USDA standards, and they then go through a dryer and UV disinfection.

100,000 eggs are processed each day: cleaned, sorted, weighed, and placed in appropriate packaging. Robots sort the eggs according to size and place them in cartons. “Typically we process from 7 am to around 3 pm; it just depends on time of year,” Hertzfeld said.

After being laid, the eggs must be place into the 42 degree cooler within 36 hours, but it usually only takes about an hour to get there. The eggs are then delivered by truck to stores within 1 to 5 days.

Much of the virtual field trip tour shows the large amount of equipment that operates to process the eggs. Both Jordan and Thomas talked about the advances in technology that have improved their production. “We’ve seen in the last few years an upgrade on robotics and the mechanical aspects of this facility. There’s a need for people in this kind of work.” They focused on the importance of careers in robotics and engineering.

Most of the people working at Hertzfeld did not come from an ag background. “Anyone can get into this and make a career of it,” Thomas said. “I get to work every day with really good people who care about what they are doing.”

“I enjoy doing something different every day and working in different parts of the production process,” Jordan said.

Watch the recording of this trip on our YouTube channel here!