>> Welcome to what's now the world's biggest hatchery, where about 400,000 chicks are hatched every day. The facility in northern China opened last week. It's all part of the country's plan to modernize the supply chain in its $37 billion egg industry. The Chinese eat almost 1 billion eggs a day, now demand is driving a shift from backyard producers to factory farms.
And the new ways won't make easy viewing for many consumers. Reuter's Dominique Patton says it's all about using technology to make this mega hatchery much more efficient.>> Sorting eggs, grading them, sorting the chicks, vaccinating the chicks, clipping their beaks, getting them ready to go into the farms afterwards.
So that's speeding up all those processes that can produce larger batches of day-old chicks than used to stock than larger commercial farms.>> The overhaul's expected to raise quality and safety in a country where eggs have featured in a series of food safety scandals. Chicks of a similar size are likely to have the same feeding ability, and birds of the same age on one farm also less likely to spread disease.
Once they hatch, the females go to automated beak-clipping machines. A practice that some companies have begun to voluntarily phase out. Although China has no animal welfare regulations, the hatchery is a joint venture between a local company and a U.S. genetics business called High Line.>> So a lot of the technology used here is supplied by foreign companies, so they're now exporting to this fast growing market.
And this company itself has told us today that they are also thinking of going overseas and developing new markets like in Africa and in Southeast Asia.>> That market growth is pushing small farmers out of business with most egg producers now earning between 20 to 50,000 hens. Anyone with less than 10,000 birds is likely to be shutdown.