In 1773 Captain James Cook brought the first chickens to New Zealand. We now have around 125 egg farms producing one billion eggs each year for the local market.
Around 89% of New Zealand’s egg production is from caged hens. Mesh cages are gently sloped allowing the eggs to roll out onto a conveyor belt for collection.
Free Range Farming
Depending on the size of the egg farm there could be anywhere from 3,000 – 10,000 birds on one site. Free range hens are housed in barns fitted with nesting boxes and perches where they can move about freely; they range freely outside in pastures too.
With barn farming the birds live inside a shed fitted with nest boxes and perches. These birds never go outside. Barn egg production accounts for around 1.4% of our annual egg supply.
Egg farms operate under a registered Risk Management Programme (RMP) and are audited on a regular basis. All farms must by law comply with the egg industry standards under the Animal Products Act 1999. Heyden Farms is audited every three months to comply with our export of hen’s eggs status.
After collection a quality checking process called candling uses a bright light shone through the eggs to show any defects. Dirty, cracked or thin shelled eggs are removed. Eggs with cracks are processed into powered or liquid form for use in commercial baking and cooking.
Eggs are graded, by weight, packaged and distributed to Central North Island wholesalers and retailers. Heyden Farms eggs are graded into four sizes:
- Small (size 5) 44 grams
- Medium (size 6) 53 grams
- Large (size 7) 62 grams
- Jumbo (size 8) 68 grams
Eggs can also be packaged in mixed-grades with the eggs in the packages varying in size.
Shell and Yolk Colour
The colour of an eggshell can range from white to caramel-brown. An eggshell’s colour makes no difference to the quality or the taste, and is determined by the breed of hen.
The Code of Welfare 2005, created by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee guides egg farmers in the welfare of their animals.