Shell strength: Put your eggs to the test

Learn why eggs don't make it to store shelves and how you can monitor eggshell strength
calendar icon 4 February 2021
clock icon 3 minute read

Why eggs don’t make it to the store shelf

The two main reasons that eggs do not make it to store shelves are:

  1. Egg loss: broken eggs that cannot be sold
  2. Downgrading: eggs that are given a lower score due to visible defects

These issues are nothing new but continue to be responsible for economic loss in the layer industry, and both are related to the quality of the eggshell.

Strengthening the shell

While downgrading can be traced back to several different factors, egg loss is directly associated with a weak eggshell. One of the best ways to help ensure that the eggs produced have a strong shell is through the hen’s nutrition. If we can get her the correct ingredients, then she will be able to provide a more durable egg.

It’s widely known that eggshells are composed mainly of calcium carbonate, phosphorus and magnesium. If we look at the shells more closely, we can find traces of iron, manganese, copper and other organic matter. Even though there might only be small amounts of these minerals found in the eggshell, they play a critical role in eggshell formation. But for maximum effectiveness, the form of those minerals matters. Organic minerals are absorbed more readily by the hen2. Including these organic minerals in layer diets could mean the difference between an egg being discarded or making it to the store shelf.

Putting the eggshell to the test

In addition to focusing on nutrition, there are ways you can monitor the strength of the eggs being produced. Recently, Alltech added a new tool to help producers quantify and better understand their eggshell strength. The Egg Force Reader measures the force it takes to fracture an eggshell. Taking a sample of 100 or more eggs allows the producer to get a good average eggshell performance. Using this data, as well as downgrade data, producers can identify if their eggs will be able to hold up in processing. Furthermore, this data, in addition to candling an egg (shining a light on the egg), can help to identify areas of improvement in nutrition regarding eggshell quality. They say not to cry over spilled milk, but what about a broken egg? Or 791 million broken eggs in one month? Put your eggs to the test with the Egg Force Reader. Contact your local Alltech representative and schedule an appointment.

To watch a video on eggshell quality and for more information, click here.


Roland, D.A. 1988. Eggshell Breakage: Incidence and economic impact. Poult. Sci. 67:1801-1803.2.

Solomon, S.E. 2012. Structural and physical changes in the hen’s eggshell in response to the inclusion of dietary organic minerals. Br. Poult. Sci. 53:343-350.

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