Ohio's egg, chicken and turkey farmers produce more than seven billion eggs each year and hundreds of thousands of pounds of chicken and turkey. The volume of production in Ohio requires a similarly large commitment to ensuring this food is not only great tasting and nutritious, but also is free from disease and safe for consumption.
That's why Ohio's egg and poultry farmers take their role seriously to uphold the highest animal care standards and farm management practices while being thoughtful environmental stewards.
Below you will find information on animal care, egg safety and quality assurance programs, biosecurity, regulatory compliance, avian influenza and environmental stewardship.
Excellent animal care is essential to a healthy and productive egg, chicken or turkey farm - and it is why farmers take this matter seriously.
Ohio egg, chicken and turkey farmers make animal care a top priority by providing:
- Comfortable barns for hens to live in to protect them from extreme weather, disease, predators and other outside biohazards
- Continuous supply of fresh food and water
- Consultations with veterinarians and use of medications, when appropriate, to keep flocks healthy and our food supply safe
Additionally, Ohio egg farmers have incorporated recommendations from the United Egg Producers' Scientific Advisory Committee for Animal Welfare into their farms, which further safeguards the well being of Ohio's laying hens. Committee members include representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists, humane association members and academicians.
OPA believes providing an environment that is safe and disease-free is the responsible thing to do and also ensures the overall quality and safety of eggs, chicken and turkey for consumers.
Learn more about cage vs. cage-free egg production
Learn more about the United Egg Producers (UEP) Certified Program
Member farmers also follow animal care guidelines outlined by the National Turkey Federation and the National Chicken Council.
Bird Handling Information
Any farmers or individuals who own chicks, ducklings or other birds should take extra precautions to help avoid exposure to Salmonella. For basic safety tips and additional information, please click here.
Ohio's egg, chicken and turkey farmers are integral members of their local communities and are committed to providing a high-quality, safe and affordable product to consumers. In fact, eggs are one of the most versatile and affordable foods in the kitchen with an average price of $1.74* per dozen regular eggs.
Ohio farmers make egg, chicken and turkey safety a top priority. Farmers participate in the Ohio Egg Quality Assurance Program (OEQAP) and the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) two of the many voluntary egg safety programs available to egg farmers in Ohio.
Ohio Egg Quality Assurance Program
The OEQAP is a cooperative effort of OPA and its members with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which sets standards for the production, processing and transportation of eggs. Ohio is one of only 10 states to have this type of program, which was created to minimize the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in eggs.
The program provides step-by-step procedures for egg farmers to produce, pack and sell the highest-quality, freshest and safest eggs for consumers. A 2004 report from the Centers for Disease Control indicated that Ohio's incidence of Salmonella was reduced by more than half following the program's introduction.
For more information about OEQAP, click here.
National Poultry Improvement Plan
The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) began in the early 1930s to coordinate state programs aimed at the elimination of pullorum disease from commercial poultry. Pullorum is a bacterial disease of poultry that is transmitted from a hen to her chicks via the egg. By testing adult birds and eliminating disease carriers from the breeding flock, commercial chicken and turkey farmers have been able to maintain healthy flocks and eliminate a costly disease.
NPIP requirements, developed jointly by industry members and state and federal officials, set the standard for evaluating poultry breeding stock and hatchery products. Compliance with these requirements results in certification of poultry and poultry products for interstate and international shipment and provides assurance that products are free of egg-transmitted and hatchery-disseminated diseases.
Any Ohio operation producing or dealing in poultry products may participate in the NPIP when they have demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the Ohio Poultry Association, that facilities, personnel, and practices are adequate for carrying out the applicable provisions of the NPIP.
Participation in Ohio requires that an operation include all poultry-hatching egg supply flocks and hatchery within the state.
USDA Grading and the Grade A Shield**
The USDA Grade A Shield is an added assurance of quality based on standards developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA grading service is offered on a voluntary basis to those processing plants interested in providing top quality poultry products. Independent USDA graders officially grade the poultry to determine that it meets these strict quality standards and then give it the Government's stamp of approval.
The USDA Grade A Shield
Officially graded means:
- A USDA grader, an independent third-party, examined and certified that the poultry meets strict U.S. quality standards.
- A USDA grader continuously monitored the poultry throughout processing and packaging to assure quality.
- The poultry passed a comprehensive and strict examination process.
- The grade standards were interpreted and applied uniformly.
USDA graders look for certain qualities before they will certify the poultry can be labeled with the USDA Grade A Shield.
The USDA Grade A Shield means:
- The poultry is plump and meaty, and does not have disjointed or broken bones.
- The poultry skin does not have feathers, cuts, tears or bruises.
- Boneless poultry products are free of bone, cartilage, tendons or bruises.
- The package contents are properly labeled and the net weight is accurate.
- Frozen poultry is not dehydrated and does not have excess moisture in the package.
These are just some of the quality assurance programs that are in place to comply with state and federal standards. Voluntary initiatives to ensure the safety and quality of the nation's food supply is the right thing to do - and OPA farmers do so while keeping eggs and poultry products at affordable prices.
*American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey, first quarter 2010.
** Agricultural Marketing Service
Biosecurity is an issue that is taken seriously by Ohio's egg, chicken and turkey farmers.
The health and well-being of flocks, farmers and farm workers is of critical concern. Further, maintaining disease-free, biosecure barns is an important step in providing safe, high-quality food for consumers.
It is in part why modern cage housing for raising commercial poultry have become the preferred method for raising chickens, turkeys and egg-laying flocks. From a biosecurity perspective, it prevents birds from encountering major sources of disease transmission - specifically migratory birds.
In addition, Ohio egg, chicken and turkey farmers employ strict on-farm measures to prevent disease, including:
- Increasing monitoring of flocks by poultry veterinarians
- Restricting access to chicken and turkey barns to essential personnel only
- Prohibiting employees from keeping or handling birds off-premises
- Prohibiting employees from visiting multiple poultry barns on a given day
- Increasing the use of protective gear, including biosecurity suits and shoe covers
Many Ohio egg, chicken and turkey farmers also have installed security cameras and other surveillance measures to ensure no unauthorized person enters a facility and breaches biosecurity efforts
Ohio's egg, chicken and turkey farmers take their responsibility seriousely to comply with state and federal regulations. The regulations that egg, chicken and turkey farmers adhere to in the state of Ohio are among the most in-depth and strongest in the nation, including Ohio's Livestock Environmental Permitting Program, overseen by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). Many of Ohio's egg,chicken and turkey farmers have participated on the Concentrated Animal Feeding Facility Advisory Committee, an advisory group to ODA. Even with a strong regulatory climate in Ohio, farmers choose and continue to farm in the state, further underscoring their individual commitment to safe, effective and compliant farming practices.
In 2000, the Ohio Department of Agriculture established the Livestock Environmental Permitting Program (LEPP), which develops rules and regulations for large livestock farms. A farm with 125,000 broiler chickens - or 82,000 laying hens - meets the definition of a large farm.
The first requirement of the program is a Permit to Install, which allows construction to begin. It helps to assure the proposed building, its facilities and location will adequately support the farm. If a farmer hasn't recently run a large livestock or poultry farm in Ohio, the department runs background checks on the owners or operators for environmental compliance.
At the same time a farmer submits an application for a Permit to Install, he or she must submit an application for a Permit to Operate. These are five-year renewable permits that regulate the management and operation of a facility. The permits go through a review and comment period and require written plans for how the farm will manage its manure, mortality, rodents and insects, records and emergency situations.
After a complete and thorough engineering and legal review to make sure both the Permit to Install and Permit to Operate meet department requirements, the state issues draft permits. It's then that the public has an opportunity to comment on the record.
The department notifies interested parties and local media of the 30-day comment period, meetings are held and the public can submit written comments. Public participation in the process - and communication between farmers and neighbors - are how the Livestock Environmental Permitting Process makes sure agriculture works for ALL Ohioans.
The Livestock Environmental Permitting Program also established the Concentrated Animal Feeding Facility Advisory Committee made up of the general public, livestock and poultry farmers, environmental groups, drinking water utilities, veterinarians and state and local government. The committee wrote what have become some of the most comprehensive regulations in the country for Ohio's largest livestock and poultry operations, which became effective in 2002. In many areas, these regulations are stronger than those required by the federal government.
Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board was established through the passage of Issue 2 in 2009.
The Board is made up of 13 Ohio-based experts in animal care, including academicians, farmers, veterinarians, farm organizations and food safety experts. The Board is responsible for issues including animal care, biosecurity, animal health, food safety, disease prevention and food production practices.
It also ensures continued excellent care for food animals, while protecting the food supply and maintaining safe, local, affordable food for Ohioans. For more information, please click here.
Ohio egg, chicken and turkey farmers for generations have followed best management practices for preserving the land, air and water. Protecting rivers and streams, managing the land and soil, and keeping the air clean is all part of responsible farm management.
Taking care of the environment has long been recognized as a critical component of farming. Farmers live where they work, so that's a big part of why they take environmental concerns so seriously.
They also operate their farms under a number of voluntary and required environmental management standards, many of which are set forth by a number of state and national regulatory agencies.
Environmental Stewardship Awards
Several Ohio egg, chicken and turkey farmers have received state and national awards in recognition of their commitment to environmental stewardship within their communities.
Listed below are two of the highly coveted industry awards and the farmers who have been honored for their environmental stewardship.
The Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA) - presented by the Ohio Poultry Association and Ohio Livestock Coalition
The ESA program annually honors outstanding accomplishments made by farmers who develop and implement exemplary management practices that protect the environment and conserve precious natural resources.
- Bowman and Landes Turkey Farm (New Carlisle)
- Kissinger Brothers Poultry (Versailles)
- Meiring Poultry and Fish Farm (Fort Recovery)
- Weaver Brothers (Versailles)
- Boeckman Farms (Celina)
- New Day Farms (Raymond)
- Stoller Farms (Van Wert)
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association's Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award
This award recognizes exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.
- Meiring Poultry and Fish Farm (Fort Recovery)
- Schwieterman Egg Farm Partnership (Fort Recovery)
- Weaver Brothers (Versailles)
- Boeckman Farms (Celina)
- New Day Farms (Raymond)