Major egg farms throughout Hokkaido primarily raise two breeds of laying chickens: Julia (white-shelled eggs) and Boris Brown (reddish brown-shelled eggs). Smaller-scale farms commonly raise breeds such as White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Nagoya Cochin, and Ukokkei. In particular, these smaller-scale farms often establish unique products through methods such as free-range breeding, or using special domestically-sourced chicken feeds.
Most broiler (meat) chickens raised in Hokkaido are the Chunky breed, which account for over half of commercially-raised chickens. On the other hand, the majority of jidori (“local chicken”, defined as chicken breeds with over 50% of the pedigree originating from Japan) are the Hokkaido II breed, and are raised with careful consideration of their diet and environment.
Shiraoi Town is Hokkaido’s top producer of eggs, followed by Chitose City. Together, these two municipalities produce over half of Hokkaido’s eggs. Other top producing regions include Shimizu Town, Otofuke Town, Nakasatsunai Village, and towns throughout the Tokachi region.
■Map / Major Producing Municipalities
Shiraoi Town, Chitose City, Shimizu Town, Otofuke Town, Nakasatsunai Village
Nakasatsunai Village, Abashiri City, Atsuma Town, Date City, Shintoku Town
Thorough hygiene management is essential for production of both eggs and poultry. Strict standards are in place for large-scale commercial farms. Small farms are also careful to provide air circulation and monitor hygienic conditions, both during day-to-day practices and with regular inspections.
Many of these farms also use safe, reliable, domestically-produced feed. Some poultry farmers even use locally-grown products such as Hokkaido wheat in their feed.
The shells of eggs are sterilized, and each egg is checked for cracks. In order to preserve freshness, poultry chickens are swiftly butchered, and temperature is carefully controlled during shipping.
Although there is some variation depending on the breed and raising environment, most hens begin to lay eggs at an age of about 5 months, and continue to produce for about 12 or 13 months. In accordance with Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries regulations, broiler chickens are shipped within three months of hatching. Hokkaido has a ready supply of both eggs and poultry year-round.