By Charles Bourns, poultry farmer and chair of Copa Cogeca working group on poultry and eggs
In the past month I had several interesting visits as a judge leading up to the National Egg & Poultry Awards. I was asked to visit two poached egg manufacturers; I do not know how good you are at cooking one, but I try and seem to end up with a foamy mess. However, now I know how it should be done!
If I asked you the cooking time you would probably say a few minutes: well in the factories it takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 40 minutes. In both cases just the eggs are broken and put into small sealed pouches before being cooked to a uniform temperature per batch. Following this they are cooked again for five minutes and this process cooks the white (at 74.2°C). They are then cooled again so the white is cold and then cooked again at a lower temperature (the yolk cooks at 50-60°C).
The end result is a poached egg that can be heated for 3 minutes at 90°C to produce the perfect egg with the yolk still runny. These eggs can also be eaten cold and some people are using them in salads. I was lucky enough to bring some home which I shared with friends who were all universal in their praise for the end result. This is just one example of the amazing ingenuity and investment being used by manufacturers to sell more eggs and in both cases Lion eggs were being used.
In other news, the new regime has started with Red Tractor audits and I would just like to warn producers that all non-compliances are registered even if they are put right during the audit so please be mindful of this. It is also important to explain why you do things in a particular way, especially if they are challenged during the audit. There may be a reason why something is different to the norm such as an unusually low drinker height. This may be questioned but if there is a reason and it’s explained it shouldn’t be a problem.
I have read that arable and other farmers are looking to the poultry industry to diversify into post-Brexit. If you are asked about this, please warn them that they must make sure they have a contract. We need to learn a lesson from the free-range egg sector where farm growth has been 10% while the market has increased 5% per year hence the present challenging market situation. In fact one of the poached egg manufacturers I referenced at the start of this article has had a load of medium free-range eggs delivered at next to no money; if he had not bought them I was told they would have gone as waste.
One of my other experiences this month was as a steward at the Three Counties Show for Jacob sheep. No one had told me that the judge would ask for the sheep to run loose in the ring and in one class we had 25 sheep. I was not worried until one passed me at chest height! Anyway, they say variety is the spice of life.
At home we tried Baycox as we do suffer from a little cocci. The product did the trick, but it played havoc with the dosing machine and we ended up with airlocks. A fun time was had by all.