Just one of the top 10 table egg-producing states, No. 1 Iowa, increased layer numbers, but modestly, with a 2 percent growth in layer numbers, in contrast to the state's rapid growth in recent years: Iowa layer numbers were up 6 percent in 2006, following a strong 12 percent rise in 2005.

Yet Iowa's 2007 total egg production was even with 2006 levels, due to a decline in eggs per layer of 265 from 268 the previous year.

For the United States as a whole in 2007, both layer numbers and egg production were down 1 percent from the previous year, the USDA/NASS annual Chicken and Eggs report shows.

Looking at other top states in layer numbers in 2007, Ohio was down 6 percent, Indiana was down 1 percent; Pennsylvania, down 5 percent; no change in Georgia, California, Texas, and Arkansas; Nebraska, down 7 percent; and Florida, down 2 percent.

Five states reduced layer numbers by 5 percent or more: Hawaii, down 16 percent; Idaho, down 13 percent; Nebraska, down 7 percent; Ohio, down 6 percent; and Pennsylvania, down 5 percent.

In terms of efficiency, Montana led all states with 301 eggs per layer in 2007, followed by Wyoming, with 300; a tie for third place between Oregon and Massachusetts; New York next with 289; Michigan, 286; Pennsylvania, 284; Vermont, 283; Colorado, 281; and New Jersey, 280. The U.S. average is 263 eggs per layer.

Looking to 2008

In contrast to last year's decline in layers and egg production, total U.S. egg production for 2008 is forecast to increase slightly more than 1 percent. Table egg production declined 1.3 percent in 2007, but is expected to increase 1.2 percent this year, Joel Greene, USDA livestock analyst with the World Agricultural Outlook Board said at the department's recent Outlook Forum. Eggs broken declined 1.3 percent in 2007 as egg prices soared, but are expected to increase 1.2 percent this year as egg prices moderate, Green says.