PROAN first stop: egg processes
“Impressive” is the word that comes to mind when describing the USB See for Yourself Program visit to Proteina Animal (PROAN), one of the largest ag enterprises in Mexico. The PROAN operation near San Juan de los Lagos is expansive, consisting of egg, milk and pork production. PROAN uses U.S. soybean meal in its feed rations.
Our visit to PROAN consisted of 5 different tour stops. The first stop was at one of the egg laying facilities, of which there are several locations. All of the farms are at least a mile apart. At this particular farm, there are 1.2 million hens in production. In total, PROAN has about 22 million hens producing about 19 million eggs each day.
PROAN hatches and grows the chicks at other farms. Hens arrive at the commercial laying houses when they are 16 weeks of age and begin producing at 18 weeks. They continue to produce for 60 weeks on average, producing 20 – 22 kilograms of eggs in a lifetime.
There is a very high level of biosecurity and sanitation at this farm. The 42 workers shower in and out and wear protective clothing. Although the hens are behind glass so we had no direct contact with them, our hands and feet were disinfected twice before entering and we wore hair nets and face masks and were not allowed to carry in backpacks or purses. Our host and guide, Corporation Manager and Chief Veterinarian Alfredo Biecerra, told us that the only people who visit this plant are U.S. farmers.
The laying house has an automated collection and feeding process. Conveyor belts bring the eggs to the workers where they are sorted and packaged to go to three different markets.
The “cleanest” eggs are packed in small plastic “convenience” boxes and are sold in bigger stores like WalMart. Those that are what the interpreter called “a little dirty” are packaged for the corner “Mom and Pop” stores, where most of the eggs in Mexico are sold. Neither are washed.
Each egg is stamped to identify it as a PROAN egg and with the farm number and the date it was laid. Biecerra told us this helps with traceability.
Once the eggs are packaged, a conveyor belt takes them to workers who load them on trucks.
Those eggs that are the least clean are washed and sold in liquid form to hotels, restaurants, and processors.
The litter is hauled away every day to be composted on 10 – 12 hectares of land nearby. At the end of their productive life, which is approximately 60 weeks of age, then hens, according to the PROAN website, are then slaughtered and processed,in the slaughterhouse, which operates under the TIF system (Federal Inspection Type) in order to produce products of high commercial value, such as chicken pieces, pastes, stabilized fats, meat, and blood meals.
I would describe what I witnessed at this PROAN egg laying farm as efficient, sophisticated, biosecure and worker-friendly.