Factors Affecting Egg Quality

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Many factors affect egg quality. Sometimes the cause is not a single factor but a combination of factors. A few of these problems can be prevented or reduced by good hen management. Producers should remember that genetics, feed quality and environment play a role in egg quality. The most reliable factor is age. A young pullet produces smaller eggs with strong egg shells and albumen that stands high. As the hen ages, the shells thin, and the albumen begins to weaken and run. Hens can be molted to induce another egg cycle, which will improve egg quality, or they will need to be replaced with young pullets.

The following charts summarize factors that may affect egg quality and suggest corrective measures. As more emphasis is placed on egg quality, it is important that all possible defects be eliminated. When defects are found, consult the chart for possible causes and solutions.

The Shell

Causes Corrective Measures
Thin, sandy, misshapen,
rough, ridged or
Age of hens Replace after 12 to 14 months of lay
Arasan, Tetrame
Thylthiuram Disulfide); used to control mold and fungus
Do not include arasan treated grains in the diet of layers. Law requires that treated grain be dyed.
Sulfanilamide (sulfa drugs) Use according to accepted recommendations
High constant temperatures Control temperature. Provide plenty of water
Respiratory diseases
(Newcastle, infectious
bronchitis and
Follow a recommended program for vaccination and disease prevention in poultry
High salt (NaCl) Feed less salt
Drugs for rodent control Keep rat bait away from poultry
Fright Avoid sudden noises. Approach birds cautiously
Reduced calcium intake Provide 3 percent calcium during cool weather
Provide 4 percent calcium during warm weather
Heredity Select strains that produce eggs of good shell
Abnormal color (brown to  yellow) Nicarbazine; a treatment
for coccidiosis in broilers
Do not feed to layers
Chlortetracycline (600-800
gm/ton), Aureomycin
Use according to accepted recommendations
Gas lead in lines or burners Maintain tight connections in gas line, keep burners in excellent working condition and provide ventilation in areas where gas is used to heat egg rooms
White to brown Iron (FeSO4), (7H2O)
0.1 ppm
Have iron content checked in water used for washing eggs. Keep below 0.1 ppm
Faded color Low calcium in diets of
Raise calcium levels for increased shell color and improved shell thickness
Mottling of shell
(bright  spots or moist appearance
around pores, observed by
Water retained by protein
in spongy layer of the shell
Do not mistake for a crack or cracks in the shell. Maintain 80 percent humidity in egg room
Porosity Age and breed of hens, environmental
temperatures, and
season of year
Keep hen house cooler, hold eggs in cool place, sell hens after 12 to 14 months of lay or molt, and select strain bred for good shell texture
Tremulous or moving air cell
(observed by candling)
Rough handling Observe and make necessary alterations in egg-handling practices
Tainted shells Paradichlorbenzene
(moth repellant)
Do not feed to birds

The White (albumen)

Causes                                  Corrective Measures
Pink egg whites Cottonseed meal (often
found in cattle rations)
Avoid using in the diet of layers
Weak, thin or
watery whites
Age of hens Replace hens after 12 to 14 months of lay
Ammonia from droppings Better ventilation, use superphosphate on litter and manure and remove droppings regularly
Increased alkalinity, (pH)-Loss of CO2 Use a shell coating such as oil or refrigerated temperatures (40 to 55ºF)
Respiratory diseases (Newcastle,
infectious bronchitis
and laryngotracheitis)
Follow a recommended program of vaccination and disease prevention in poultry
Heredity Select strains of known egg white (albumen) quality
Arasan Do not use arasan treated grains in the diet of layers
Vanadium Use sources of phosphorus in feeds known to have low amounts or none
High environmental temperatures Collect egg often (three to five times a day) and hold in refrigerated temperatures (40 to 55ºF)
Sulfanilamide (sulfa drugs) Use according to accepted recommendations
Flecks or spots in
Partially cooked Avoid excessive heat when washing eggs
Blood and meat spots Select strains known for clear egg whites (albumen)
Green rot and other type of
Microorganisms, including bacteria,
molds, and fungi
Maintain clean nesting material. Gather eggs frequently (three to five times a day). Use clean water for washing eggs. Maintain temperature of egg wash water (100 to 120ºF) above that of the egg at all times. Use recommended amounts of detergents and sanitizers. Keep equipment clean. Use clean packing material. Keep eggs refrigerated. Green rot is easily detected with an ultraviolet lamp candler. Other types of advanced spoilage are easily detected with regular candling techniques. Egg wash water containing 0.4 ppm of iron can promote bacterial spoilage.
Cloudy white Prompt oiling of newly laid shell eggs Delay oiling for one to six hours after eggs are laid.
Prompt refrigeration of newly laid
shell eggs at 32ºF
Keep eggs refrigerated below 45ºF
Off-odors and flavors Chemicals for treating parasites.
Odorous flowers, fruits, and
vegetables in egg storage areas
Use chemicals recommended for lice and mite control. Do not use materials capable of imparting odors or flavors to eggs such as BHC, Lindane or Hexaphene. Do not store flowers, fruits and vegetables in the same area with eggs
Blood and meat spots Hemorrhaging before and during
Tranquilizers, vitamins A and K, and aureomycin
Breed Select strains with low incidence
Continuous intermittent periods of
Use 14 hours of light 
Color or pogment caused by porphyrin
as found in the brown shell egg
Select strains with low incidence

The Yolk

Causes                             Corrective Measures
Olive- or salmon-
colored yolks
5 percent or more
cottonseed meal (found
in some cattle diets)
Avoid its use in the diet of layers. Do not allow free-range poultry to consume spilled cattle feed
Platinum yolks
(colorless yolks)
Possible infection (causative
agent unknown)
Antibiotics (200 gm aureomycin and 2 lbs NF-180 per ton of feed for seven days)
Colorless yolks Lack of xanthophyll Consideration should be given to the source of xanthophyll such as yellow corn meal, alfalfa leaf meal, etc
Green yolks 100 to 250 mg of sodium
chlorophyllin in feed
Avoid feeding to hens
Seed pods of Shepperd's
purse and pennycress
Use clean grains in feeding programs
5 gm or more of pimento
peppers daily to each hen
Use smaller amounts for a desirable color in the egg yolks
Red pepper Avoid feeding to hens
Yellow to orange
Seaweed meal (algae),
dehydrated alfalfa meal, corn
gluten meal, flower petal meal,
dried chili peppers, powdered
African red peppers, dried
sweet potatoes, dried carrots,
corn oil products, food grade
fat soluble dyes, etc
Feed recommended levels of xanthophyll bearing materials for desired egg yolk color.
Yellow= 13 mg of xanthophyll per lb of feed
Medium orange= 23 mg of xanthophyll per lb of feed
Orange= 34 mg of xanthophyll per lb of feed
Maximum color will be present 10 days after the hens are placed on feeds for yolk color
Misplaced egg
Large end up with yolk in large
end - thin egg white and/or fat
content of yolk. Large end up
with yolk in small end - thin egg
white and/or water content of
Use accepted quality control practices while gathering and storing eggs in a cooled atmosphere
Blood and meat
Hemorrhages (ovarian, may be
Select strains with low incidence. Older breeds have approximately 30 percent blood spots in eggs
Mottled or
blemished yolks
Nicarbazine Do not feed to layers
Cottonseed meal Avoid feeding to layers
Piperazine citrate Do not use frquently or continuously
Movement of water from egg
white across vitelline membrane
into yolk material
Cool eggs quickly and keep cool. Use other accepted quality control practices
Thick, pasty, rubbery
or cheese-like
Crude cottonseed oil (malvalic
acid and sterculic acid)
Avoid feeding to layers
Yolks laid internally Remove offending birds from the flock
misplaced egg
yolk (observed
in the whole
egg by
Unknown The egg positioned with the small end down may help correct this situation
Off-odors and flavors Chemicals for treating parasites.
Odorous fruits and vegetables in egg storage area
Use of chemicals recommended for the lice and mite control. Do not use materials capable of imparting odors or flavors to eggs such as BHC, Lindane or Hexaphene. Do not store flowers, fruits, vegetables or petroleum products with eggs
Chemicals or egg washing compounds Do not place egg-washing powders or liquids directly on eggs
Flat Weak vitelline membrane Gather eggs often (three to five times a day). Maintain temperatures of 40 to 55ºF. Market often
Stuck yolks Necastle disease Use recommended vaccine
Storage at high temperature Store at 40 to 55ºF

Munawar Ali Munawar Ali
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
July 23, 2008

Very useful and informative article. about the  Factors Affecting Egg Quality.

Dr. Munawar Ali

Youssef Attia Youssef Attia
Animal Nutritionist
July 25, 2008

Excellent paper about egg quality. We need such short cut brief papers that are helpful regarding to parent stocks and layers industry.

August 4, 2008
Avian Influenza is also affecting egg quality. There is not a single word about this disease which is the challenge of the day.
August 8, 2008
The information that I read was really excellent since I am so specific in the broiler breeder management. Thanks a lot.
Dr.Iftikhar Ahmad Mashhadi Dr.Iftikhar Ahmad Mashhadi
Animal Nutritionist
August 9, 2010

Factors Affecting Egg Quality by R. Scott Beyer,is an article really appreciated and I agree with Dr.Habib comments

Dr Kamran Dr Kamran
Agricultural Engineer
August 18, 2010



January 18, 2011

very educative article about egg quality.

Dr. Manoranjan Sharma Dr. Manoranjan Sharma
February 18, 2011

Very Very informative and needs to circulate the article among the layer farmers to avoid economical losses due to usages of drugs that is detrimental to the egg quality.

Veterinary Doctor
June 29, 2014
What percentage of inorganic trace minerals can be replaced by organic trace minerals and what % is best for better selection percentage of hatching eggs.

Also whether the breeder ration to be supplemented always with both organic and inorganic or 100 % organic trace minerals only.

Same can be followed in Broiler ration.
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