The 2019 National Egg Laying Industry Needs Assessment -- conducted by Darrin Karcher, Ph.D., animal science professor at Purdue University, in conjunction with the Egg Industry Center, United Egg Producers (UEP) and the United Egg Association -- surveyed egg farmers on topics related to current employee education, undergraduate education and research needs. This would allow university poultry extension faculty and industry members to better identify and create training programs for poultry farm employees.
The survey had 447 responses. Industry members that responded identified themselves by the areas in which they work. "Respondents were 53% production, 17% processing, 17% feed mill, 7% breeders/hatchery and 6% allied industry/other and most respondents (92%) were associated with complexes housing more than 50,000 hens. The top 3 egg-producing states were best represented: 14% Iowa, 13% Ohio, 13% Indiana. When asked where the company seeks information/education/training, responses were 30% university, 24% consultants and 23% commodity associations. Local and state extension services are used by the table egg industry 51% to 68% of the time," said Karcher.
People surveyed included complex managers, chief executive officers, service technicians, presidents and marketing advisors.
"Need for additional employee training across different areas was assessed by ranking on a 1-10 scale (none to extremely beneficial). The mean scores for different areas were animal welfare (7.72), management (7.72), biosecurity regulations (8.23), manager training (7.57), food safety (7.49) and product quality (7.42)," said Karcher.
Karcher found it most interesting that perceptions of where employees needed training did not always align with upper management. Breaking down the data into the UEP regions similar needs for employee education were the same.
Participants were asked open-ended questions throughout the survey to understand more specific programming. According to Karcher example responses included:
• "Smaller companies are the ones most in need of training and most will not likely send their non-supervisory employees far off for training. Training that can be developed, shared and implemented locally may be more utilized and effective."
• "Cage-free production assistance."
• "More on-site education and guidance."
Overall, the needs assessment indicates numerous programmatic areas should be addressed over the next 3-5 years. Karcher says, "The impact could be magnified if we rethink collaborations amongst extension personnel, commodity associations and private consultants when creating these education programs.”