Friday, August 4, 2017

Selling fresh eggs

If you've had chickens for any length of time then you know their egg production has peaks and valleys. While some of those low times can make you feel like you'll never get another fresh egg again, the high production times can leave with with more eggs then you've ever seen before!

sell chicken eggs

When your chickens are laying like crazy, you might have considered selling eggs from your hens. While it may seem as simple as putting them in a carton and exchanging them for money, it's usually much more complex. It can depend on where you live and how many chickens you have. In some states you need to wash and refrigerate the eggs and in others washing and refrigeration is strictly forbidden! 

There are even more rules about packaging and handling. Plus, what about taxes? It's a mess quite frankly, but how do you figure it all out?


Laws first:
First you need to get the facts. Look up your state laws. The rules on backyard egg sales seem to change fairly often so you should check them at least yearly for any changes. You can find the local rules on your state department of agriculture website. I live in the state of Pennsylvania. I simply googled Pennsylvania egg sales and came up with the Pa Dept of Ag website which has a link to a PDF explaining all the rules for a egg producer with less then 3,000 hens. These rules include how to package eggs, temps for storage, how soon you have to sell them and what information you must include.

Collecting your eggs:
No matter what the rules say about the handling and storage of fresh eggs, it's important that you collect the eggs from the coop every single day. This is even more important in the summer when fertile eggs can start to develop if left outside in high temperatures for too long. "Too long" in this case, is more than 24 hours. Make sure they're brought in out of the heat daily. 

Packaging:
I've seen some really adorable packaging setups for farm fresh eggs. I've also seen eggs be offered in just a plain blank egg carton. (in some states you must use new cartons and in others you can reuse clean egg cartons) Whatever you decide to do I think the consistency is important. I also think it's important to have either a label or business card attached to them so that people know how to get in touch with you to order more eggs. If you live in a state where reusing cartons is allowed, make sure you mark off any manufacturers info like the date stamp on the end or the company name.

You could order fancy eggs stamps and egg container liners and things like that. I don't think they're necessary. They're also an added expense. However, expenses are deductible when you do your taxes at the end of the year so that would be completely up to you if you think it's worth it. I will say the memorable packaging can help you get the sale at places like farmers markets where customers are browsing.

Pricing:
Figuring out how to price your hens eggs can be tricky. You can't use the grocery stores as a guideline at all. You won't be able to compete with their low pricing, and they can't compete with your high quality. You could possibly check the prices on organic free range eggs in your store and use that as a guideline, if your store carries those! Your best bet is to try to figure out what price people are already paying for the same product in your area. Visiting a farmers market or small farm store should give you an idea of what to charge. 

Your motive for selling eggs can also help determine what to charge for them. If you just don't want them to go to waste or want to put a dent in the feed bill then a low price might be good for your situation...especially if you want to move them fast! If you're looking to start making money off your eggs, then you'll want to charge more. Sometimes charging more can mean heading into the city where fresh eggs are more of a rarity.

Decide where to sell:
This brings us back to those state regulations. You may be allowed to sell from your home only or not at all. Many states allow for farmers market sales. Find out if you're allowed to sell from your home and if so a "fresh eggs" sign hung at the end of your driveway might be all you need.

Decide how many eggs to sell:
If you're getting enough fresh eggs to stock a whole stand then a farmers market may be right for you. You could also consider cutting out the footwork and going to a gourmet restaurant and sell eggs directly to them. If you'll only have 2 dozen left after you keep what you need for your family though, a more low key approach is needed. Once customers get a taste for your eggs they will be coming back again and again for more. Make sure you let them know if you're not going to be able to provide eggs for them in low production times so it doesn't come as a surprise. 

Be careful with your descriptions:
All backyard chicken keepers know how misleading terms like free range eggs or cage free hens can be. Unfortunately they're also regulated terms. In order to use these terms you have to get approval from the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service). It's a pretty complex process so I would just suggest using non regulated terms like 'naturally raised' or 'from happy backyard chickens'. If you want to get into all the details though, here's the FDA link.

I know this seems like a lot, but making sure you follow the rules in the beginning can save a lot of headaches for you in the long run!

~L
Shared at:  Simple Saturdays Blog Hop   Good Morning Mondays   The Homestead Blog Hop  To Grandma's House We Go!  Simple Homestead Hop                                                      

2 comments:

  1. Hi!
    I just saw this on The Simple Homestead Blog Hop. This is a great post full of very useful information. I also sell my own eggs and your guidelines are perfect for anyone who wants to begin making money on their homestead.
    Thank you so much, bookmarking your page so I can refer back to it. :)

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  2. Very useful information that I am sure a lot of people would not consider before hand. When I was a child we used to sell eggs to the husker (as they called them then) and I remember we had to clean them, weight them (had to be a certain weight) and have them ready in specific cartons when he arrived. Congratulations on being featured on Homestead blog hop. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

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