Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions. We have eggs — and answers. Below you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about eggs, hens, and our processes.

What’s the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?

The color of the eggshell is determined by the bird’s genetics. Typically, hens that lay brown eggs are heavier, less excitable birds and are generally used in cage-free and organic production. Hens that lay white eggs are less meaty and more excitable (e.g., during thunderstorms) and are therefore safer in pens, which prevent them from piling on top of one another and getting hurt.

What are “specialty” eggs?

Free-range, cage-free, organic, Omega-3 enriched, and all of the Eggland’s Best eggs are considered specialty (or added-value) eggs. The cost to produce specialty eggs is higher due to expensive feed ingredients, increased labor, and more costly housing, which are all required to meet consumers’ demands when it comes to their personal diets or hen care.

What do egg grades refer to?

Eggs are graded based on their internal quality, shell quality and appearance. There is no difference in nutrition or safety between grades. Grade AA eggs have thick, firm whites and high, round yolks. They’re also the most well shaped. Grade A eggs have whites that are reasonably firm — best for hard-cooking. And Grade B eggs have thin whites and wider yolks. They are most often used for baking.

How are eggs sized?

Eggs are sized based on their weight as a per-dozen unit. A dozen large eggs, for example, weighs about 24 oz. A dozen medium eggs weighs about 21 oz. A dozen extra large eggs weighs approximately 27 oz.

Do you still candle eggs? What do you look for on the inside?

The inspection of the interior content of the eggs is now done mostly by electronic scanners. These scanners look for the same things we did when we rotated eggs over a bright light by hand – blood spots, cracks, or overall imperfections. If any of these are found, the imperfect egg is removed.

What is a blood spot?

These are tiny spots caused by a blood vessel that ruptured during the formation of the egg. They are not harmful. We see more of them after a violent thunderstorm when birds have been startled. Most eggs with blood spots are removed during the candling process. If you encounter an egg with a blood spot, you can remove it with a clean knife or spoon before cooking. Again, the egg is safe to eat.

What are those white strings near the yolk?

The strands on either side of the yolk are called the chalazae (or chalazas).They hold the yolk in place in the center of the thick white. The more pronounced the chalazae, the fresher the egg.

Why don’t my hard-cooked eggs peel easily?

Most likely because your eggs are so fresh. The ideal time to hard cook an egg is when it is 12 to 14 days old.

How fresh are Herbruck’s eggs?

Eggs typically leave our farms early the morning after they were laid. This means they are often less than 24 hours old when they arrive at the store. If your retail grocer turns stock properly, you may be buying eggs that are only a day or two old.

How should I store eggs?

Eggs are best kept in a covered carton at 38 to 40 degrees F on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator – not on the door, where they are regularly jostled. For every hour that an egg sits at room temperature, it ages the equivalent of an entire day. Eggs stored properly should remain safe to eat for up to 45 days.

Should I be concerned about salmonella?

Herbruck’s has never had an incidence of salmonella, nor have our eggs ever been recalled. We go to great lengths to steer clear of the salmonella enteritidis (SE) bacteria. Here’s how: 

  • We receive only SE-free chicks.
  • Our vaccination program blocks SE infections later in a bird’s life.
  • We conduct SE testing both on the growing pullets and on birds in the layer house.
  • Eggs are gathered, sanitized, packed, and refrigerated very quickly.
  • Eggs are shipped in refrigerated trucks at below 45 degrees °F.
  • All of our egg-gathering belts and equipment are inspected daily for sanitation.
  • We use technology to track food safety controls (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP) in our processing plants.
  • Herbruck’s was one of the first egg producers in the nation to implement the Safe Quality Food program and to attain Level 3 certification.
  • You can be assured that Herbruck’s is providing premium-quality eggs produced and processed to the highest safety standards.

How much cholesterol does one egg have?

Today, a standard large egg contains approximately 185mg of cholesterol, on average. This measurement, reported by the USDA in early 2011, is 14 percent lower than levels reported in 2002. (The same recent USDA analysis found that today’s eggs have a greatly increased amount of Vitamin D.)

According to the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “evidence suggests that one egg (i.e., egg yolk) per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people.” Eggland’s Best eggs, which contain less cholesterol than standard eggs, allow even those with dietary cholesterol issues to consume up to 12 eggs per week.

How many eggs are laid at Herbruck’s each day?

Our hens produce approximately 7 million eggs a day. These are healthy, diligent birds!

How many birds does Herbruck’s have?

We have approximately 10 million laying hens total on our farm locations. In addition, we raise pullets (from one day to 20 weeks of age) at a separate facility. These hens regularly replace aging flocks that can no longer produce high-quality eggs.

How do you take care of so many birds?

Herbruck’s has nearly 400 talented, well-trained employees, as well as others who work on contract to help care for our birds. Additionally we have our own veterinary staff on hand to provide care for the hens.

How long does a hen produce eggs?

A laying hen will begin laying eggs at about five months of age. Commercial layers typically produce for two to three years. A Herbruck’s hen typically produces one egg every 24 to 26 hours, with occasional days off each week. The average is 310 eggs per year. As a hen ages, her shell quality goes down, making for more broken eggs.

Are hens social?

Yes. Research has proven that hens form social groups and prefer to be in the company of their peers. They tend to want to stay with their own social group, and when a caged hen escapes, it tries very hard to get back in with its social group to continue to practice its sub-group behavior.

How do you know if a hen is content?

Experience shows that the more attentive we are to our birds’ security, health, and welfare, the more eggs they produce. Herbruck’s operations have some of the highest egg production rates in the nation. Close observation by layer workers indicates that housed birds are curious, bright-eyed, active, and become bonded to their caretakers. In addition, tests have shown that the levels of the hormone corticosterone – produced by laying hens in response to stress or fear – are similar in both free-range and caged egg layers.

How much space does each bird have?

All of our hens have plenty of space to conduct their natural activities: preening, pecking, scratching, laying, feeding, drinking, socializing – and flying, in the case of cage-free hens. Hens in cages are housed under United Egg Producers animal welfare guidelines. Each bird has 67 to 76 square inches, depending on the cage. Having both caged and cage-free birds allows us to provide consumers with choices about the eggs they buy.

Do you trim the hens’ beaks?

We give our hens a non-invasive laser treatment to remove 1/8” of the sharp tip, so they won’t hurt each other when they peck. Our hatchery staff members who perform this treatment are highly trained and follow strict guidelines.

Where can I find even more information about eggs?

The American Egg Board! Thanks to the Egg Board, both industry professionals and curious consumers can find all the egg information they’d ever need in the Eggcyclopedia.

See for yourself!