Smooth and brown, the eggs slip through the machine where they are held
up one at a time to the light. The light shines through the shells and illuminates the interior of the egg and then the machine moves the egg down the light so the next egg can be inspected. This process, called candling, is a simple but important step in the quality control process eggs undergo before they are put in their cartons and sold to customers. Imperfections and abnormalities are detected through this tedious process and sorted out of the supply chain by hand before they make it to the shelf, ensuring a high-quality, standardized product.
“We’re just looking for the occasional crack or blood fleck or imperfect yolk, that sort of thing,” says Simone Rudge.
Rudge, of Aurora Mountain Farms, co-owns Farmer Robert’s Store in Whitehorse with Robert Ryan of Ibex Valley Farms.
Farmer Robert’s has recently opened a new egg-inspection and processing facility which allows them to sell their locally-raised eggs commercially. Previously all eggs sold in stores in the Yukon had come from outside the territory.
“Rob (Ryan) could see a huge demand for local eggs,” Rudge says, adding that they’ve sold 884 dozen in the two months since the new project started.
“(Ryan) bought 500 chickens and now we’re getting 500 eggs every day…. you’ve got to have something to do with them!” she jokes.
The layers are a breed known as Bovan Rouge, imported from Quebec. The standard breed use in most commercial egg laying facilities in Canada is the White Leghorn.
“The Bovans do better in cold and are less fragile (than the standard breed),” Rudge says.
In addition to this new local facility, Rudge says they are preparing a cutting room, so that they can butcher (although not slaughter) locally-raised meat on premise. While at present they are already selling locally-raised boar, chicken and elk, this will allow them to do a larger volume and add beef to the lineup. They hope to have locally raised and produced beef available by the end of January.
There are many new opportunities opening up for farmers and retailers as the business of local agriculture expands, says Rudge.
“If anyone is thinking about growing new vegetables in the territory,” she says, “now is definitely the time.”