British Egg Production | Where do your eggs come from?

I’m really lucky, when I fancy an egg sandwich I just nip out to the barn, push a chicken or duck out of the way and grab a couple of fresh eggs.

Not many people are that lucky and most have to buy their eggs in a supermarket but do you understand all that marking on the eggs, are they fresh, are they from battery chickens and are they local?

I am always harping on about buying locally produced food and knowing where your food comes from, so it’s time I gave you some information about eggs in order for you to choose what you are buying.

There is legislation to cover the production, marking, transporting, grading, packing and selling of eggs.

What consumers need to know about producers is:

Eggs without Stamps

Producers with less than 350 laying hens that do not sell at public markets or to shops do not have to register with the Egg Marketing Inspectorate and the eggs do not have to be stamped. Basically this means that if they sell door to door (ie directly from the farm or place of production like an allotment or to you at your home or workplace) then the eggs you buy will not show any marking.

Stamped Eggs

Anyone with more than 50 hens that they sell to shops, at a local market or to egg packing stations must be registered with the Egg Marketing Inspectorate and the eggs must carry a code showing the country of origin, the producers identity number and the farming production method used (eg, free range or caged). If you buy eggs from a market stall, a farmers market or car boot sale the eggs must show this stamp.

Please note that if eggs are sold to you as Class A then they must carry a stamp. See Defra’s website for more information on (stamping).

Some Class A eggs will be marked “extra” or “extra fresh” and this means eggs are sold in packs where the eggs were graded, marked and packed within 4 days of laying.

The best before date must be a maximum of 28 days from the laying date.

Ever looked at a large and medium egg together and can’t see any difference? This is because Class A eggs must be sold according to weight not actual egg size.

Egg Sizes:

Extra Large (XL) = 73g or more

Large (L) = 63 – 72g

Medium (M) = 53 – 62g

Small (S) = below 53g

Production Methods Code:

O = Organic

1 = Free Range

2 = Barn

3 = Caged

The minimum information a stamped egg must show is production type, country of origin and producers ID number, so it would look something like this:


this simply means it is a free range egg, produced in the UK and the producers ID number is 45762

To see how far your eggs have travelled from the production facility to your home then pop the code number into the egg miles calculator.

I believe it is always best to buy locally, so please try to source locally produced eggs where you can find out which production method is used. If possible visit the production site, you only have to do it once to satisfy yourself of the standard of welfare and qulity of eggs.

If you want to read more about production methods for eggs read Defra’s where they explain the criteria for keeping hens and what the requirements of each production method are.

The Vegetarian Society also have some up to date and interesting information on egg production and welfare of laying hens.

The British Free Range Egg Producers Association also has information on production types for eggs and their site is well worth a mooch around, some very interesting articles on there.

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17 Responses to “British Egg Production | Where do your eggs come from?”

  1. (2 comments.) Says:

    Hi Sally,

    That is just about the most useful piece of info I have read on the net for a long time. Thanks. I shall report this to my “Accountant” she will read it with interest. We always eat free range UK eggs.

  2. Richard from Chandeliers (1 comments.) Says:

    very interesting, i never knew anything meant anything significant except the best by date. thanks for the info.

  3. farmingfriends (2 comments.) Says:

    What an interesting article. I sell guinea fowl, quail and duck eggs and before I started selling the eggs I contacted the egg marketing inspectorate and found out that there is no legislation on best before dates for these eggs. I put 3 weeks on guinea fowl and duck eggs and 2 and a half weeks on quail eggs.
    Kind regards
    Sara from farmingfriends

  4. Sally Says:

    Oops I should have mentioned in the post Sara that I was only talking about hens eggs … naughty step for me again tonight. It does however seem strange that the legislation only covers hens eggs, perhaps it is due to the quantity sold?

  5. Maggie from Wheatland farm eco lodges and cottage, Devon (7 comments.) Says:

    I do like that travelling egg calculator… We have our own (ex battery) hens who lay plenty of eggs, but I can think of a few people who might be interested in looking up part of their breakfast food miles…

  6. Sally Says:

    Nice to hear someone else takes in the old battery hens, we have some that have laid for years after the battery places have finished with them.

  7. ron Says:

    I have tried your calculator using the ID (1uk10937) printed on the eggs I purchase and it replies: no supplier found why?

  8. Sally Says:

    Hi Ron

    It’s not my calculator so I can only guess that the suppliers code is not in the database. I checked with five different code checkers and that code didn’t come up on any of them, of course this may just mean they are newly registered and not yet in websites databases but you might like to check.

    May I suggest you contact the Egg Marketing Inspecgtorate and ask if it is a valid code – contact details are here

    Alternatively you could contact your local Trading Standards Office and ask them to check whether it is a valid registered code.

  9. Chris Wilson (1 comments.) Says:

    Sally, although I have kept my own hens for eggs for some time now, your post has provided me with further new information – thank you. I like the egg miles calculator and believe my neighbour who produces eggs for local markets will be also most interested in your information.
    Chris Wilson´s last blog ..A Guide To Candling Hatching Eggs My ComLuv Profile

  10. Mary Ellen (1 comments.) Says:

    I wish I’d seen your website when I was blogging on the great English breakfast — mainly to be read by Americans at — but better late than never.

    Today I was looking for info about eggs, and found your site — I enjoyed clicking through to some of the links you posted, especially the egg miles calculator, but it didn’t work for me. I’m sitting here with a free-range egg from the Co-Op and an organic egg from Duchy Originals (because I pushed the wrong button when I was ordering on-line — I don’t ordinarily pay extra for Aristocratic Eggs), and the egg miles calculator couldn’t find the supplier of either one. Rats…

    I will click around your other posts to see if they answer some of my questions about lamb and beef production. I’d really like to learn where the money goes, because I’m not getting rich and presumably you’re not getting rich either, but food costs a fortune!

    Thanks for blogging — going to go read more now –
    Mary Ellen´s last blog ..Another country feteMy ComLuv Profile

  11. david jones(new comment) Says:

    hi sally
    what an interesting site! i am trying to find the producer’s name for a DOUBLE YOLK free range egg. if one has an egg with (for example) 1UK12345 – how can i, as an individual, find out: a)who is the producer & b) the address of that producer.
    If you can help with this, i will be for ever in your debt.
    Regards, David

  12. Sally Says:

    Hi David

    I’ll send you an email and you can give me the number to trace for you.

  13. david jones(new comment) Says:

    Thanks Sally, BRILLIANT – the producer’s number is 1UK15961

  14. Sally Says:

    Hi David

    No joy I’m afraid, they are not in any of the code trackers, not in the Laid in Britain scheme, etc (probably suggesting a smaller scale producer). All I can tell you is the producer is in the Salisbury area. A full list has never been published, as far as I’m aware, due to concerns about individuals safety from animal right activists etc so it’s up to producers to opt in to schemes and allow their details to be published.

    All I can suggest is for yoplu to contact your local DEFRA office and explain why you want to contact the producer and give them the code and your contact details and then wait to see if they get back to you.

    Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  15. david jones(new comment) Says:

    Hi Sally.

    Thanks for trying anyway and for your lengthy reply.

    These eggs were bought in Waitrose, the packers were “Stonegate Farmers Ltd” (they are the 2nd largest in the country) and the very production of these eggs is, at best, minimal.

    I have added your site to my contacts and will continue to read your blog and questions regularly


  16. david jones(new comment) Says:

    Hi Sally,
    Turning up like a bad penny, again I’m afraid. Would I have any better luck with 1UK17031 which from your tracking service which gave me TA4 (Taunton) appears to be in the middle of nowhere? Thanks again.

  17. Sally Says:

    Hi David

    That code does indeed originate in Taunton and the eggs are produced by Andy Lewis (or rather by his laying hens), who is British Lion registered. The farm, on the map I looked at, is situated next to an historic looking church and looks a fabulous place to live.

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