Every year I look forward to my local newspaper’s holiday haiku contest. Its many ‘winners’ see their poems published in the Christmas edition of the Courier-Journal. In 2014, a sign nailed to a mailbox post stating “Fresh Eggs” inspired me to submit this:
”Fresh Eggs!” shingles read.
Yoking to activism,
Metro Cluckers flock.
When we order our first flocks, do we realize we are local-food activists? When I started, I just wanted protein from my backyard. Now, I’m part of a network of people who raise chickens to be a part of the local-food movement. Chicken-keeping has grown into something bigger for me, just like the size of my flock.
Last year, I added to my initial flock (now nearing age 5) anticipating leaner egg years and eventual deaths. But 15 months after ordering the babies, the original flock remains unchanged. Now, the chickens have the last laugh—I’ve been collecting seven eggs a day for nearly a week. Oops!
As we spring forward into the prolific egg season, I could very well see eight eggs every day. That’s 56 eggs a week! It’s time to start selling the abundance.
Here are the four things I’m considering before launching my egg business:
1. Do local laws allow chicken keepers to sell backyard eggs?
Even if you’re allowed to have chickens as a personal food source, check your state’s laws about selling eggs. If you move beyond casually selling eggs to friends, family and neighbors, you’ll probably need to follow a few specific FDA guidelines regarding temperature, storage and food-safety labeling.
2. Who will buy my product?
Who are your neighbors? Will they be willing to pay the price you’ll demand? You’ll probably charge between $2.50 and $4 per dozen, depending on egg prices in your area and current market saturation, meaning how many people are already selling eggs in your area. If your neighbors won’t buy them, marketing through friends on social media can be an effective way to move your product.
3. What are packaging and labeling costs?
Packaging might be an unwanted cost, but in most places it’s illegal to sell eggs from a re-used container. Why? Washed eggs can allow bacteria from the old container through the eggshells, contaminating your product. And, yes, to sell them, you must wash your eggs.
A professional-looking label on your egg cartons, complete with your contact information, can help your customers spread the word about your flock’s extra eggs.
4. How can I educate people about the origins of their food?
Imagine a consumer switching from store-bought eggs to backyard fresh for the first time, opening a carton, and seeing blue, green and different shades of brown, all in varying sizes and shapes. You won’t get rich selling this magical experience, but you will have an opportunity to step up to the dinner plate as the local-food activist you are.
If you have too many eggs like I’m soon to have, selling them keeps the eggs from going to waste, it helps educate the community about local food, and it can help you break even on feed or to make a small profit from your bounty.