It’s unlikely you will become a millionaire selling poultry eggs.
However, you should be able to generate a small income that can at least cover the costs of feed.
What follows is a basic primer on how to sell your eggs, whether you have a small amount every week or if you have a larger amount to move along.
Remember, all countries and municipalities usually have laws concerning what you can sell and where.
Although we will briefly touch on this, it’s up to you to find out what you need to do in your area.
And if you play your cards right, you can make a profit. Profiting from poultry eggs (as food or as hatching eggs) requires the right kind of marketing plan.
Preparing Your Eggs for Sale
Firstly and most importantly, your eggs must be clean.
Poop and dirt on egg shells is not acceptable to the general public or the USDA – although your Aunt Maud may turn a blind eye and declare it’s natural!
Friends and neighbors will probably turn a blind eye to those slightly misshapen eggs too, knowing that they are fresh and healthy.
Some folks won’t and will dismiss these ‘oddities’ as not for consumption.
As far as I can tell, there is no law against selling ‘visually unappealing’ eggs if your customer doesn’t mind.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not have to clean your eggs prior to sale.
In the UK, eggs do not have to be cleaned unless dirty and can be sold un-refrigerated. In the US, eggs have to be cleaned prior to sale and must be refrigerated.
Both of these approaches are to mitigate the possibility of salmonella in the eggs. The UK/EU vaccinate hens against salmonella. The USDA prefers to rely on clean eggs and careful handling to reduce the chance of contamination.
The UK started vaccinating chickens in 1997 and over succeeding years saw the cases of human salmonella drop a whopping 96%! The FDA has been considering this idea for several years now but believes the data is inconclusive.
The easiest way to keep the eggs clean is to keep the nesting boxes clean.
Check them every morning, replace nesting material as needed, removing dirt and poop balls as you go. Collect eggs frequently to prevent soiling and damage.
If you have a couple of hens that like to sleep in the nest boxes at night, it’s time for them to graduate to the roosts – shut off the boxes at night if needs be and park them on the roost.
According to the USDA Farm to Table website, “It’s not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs and may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be “sucked” into the egg through the pores in the shell When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. Government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using only compounds meeting FDA regulations for processing foods.”
Depending on your local laws, you may prefer to not wash the eggs you will be selling. Some chicken farmers have begun advertising their eggs as “dirty eggs” to educated consumers who understand the benefits of keeping the bloom intact.
In fact, some consumers prefer to wash their own eggs because they can do it just before eating (having left the protective bloom intact) and wash based on their preferred cleaning method.
With that being said, you probably don’t want to sell extremely dirty, or poopy, eggs to your customers. Those should be washed and kept separately or discarded.
Egg Grading and Size
The egg industry has defined what is ‘acceptable’ to the public in the size and shape of eggs and many consumers believe that all eggs are exactly the same. Anything different is frowned upon and considered ‘inferior’ – we know differently though!
Industry eggs are graded and for the most part only ‘grade AA’ eggs make it to the supermarket for general consumption.
Grade ‘A’ are considered ‘acceptable’ but of lower quality.
Grade ‘B’ are eggs that may have stains, irregular shape or shell quality. These are sent to foodstuff manufacturers. ‘B’ eggs are not sold to the general public because they don’t measure up to the industry standard.
The size and weight of eggs are generally divided into six categories:
- Peewee – 1.25 oz
- Small – 1.5 oz
- Medium – 1.75oz
- Large – 2oz
- Extra- large – 2.25oz
- Jumbo – 2.5oz
You do not have to grade or size your eggs unless you intend to sell commercially.
Farm gate sales are exempt from grading.
Also, you do not have to fill the carton with eggs of the same size, you can vary the size with two large, two medium and two small for instance.
You cannot use ‘brand name’ egg cartons since you are not selling the ‘brand’ eggs.
However, new egg cartons can be purchased inexpensively from your local farm or garden store.
I will re-use cartons that are clean, not broken or damaged and non-soiled erring on the side of caution.
If you plan on making this a regular occurrence, you might consider putting a label on the carton with your name, address and phone number. This way people remember where they bought those delicious eggs!
Also don’t forget to put a ‘best before’ date on the carton so folks know the eggs are really fresh.
Where Can You Sell Your Eggs?
You need to know who your potential customers are.
If you have a small amount of eggs to sell weekly, the customer base may just be friends and family.
If you have a neighbor who is a bit ‘iffy’ about having hens next door, bribery usually works so ‘donate’ them some eggs once every couple of weeks. They may decide that the eggs and hens aren’t so bad after all and start to buy from you!
But, if you have more eggs to sell, you will need to start looking further afield.
Check around your area to see where you may be able to sell to.
Camp grounds, local farm stores, farmers markets are all good places to start your sales pitch. Remember, if you sell beyond the ‘farm gate’ you will generally need a license. However, if the owner of the campground comes to you – you will not need a license!
In my experience though, the best advertising is of course word of mouth.
If your eggs are tasty, reasonably priced and local, you will probably have more customers than eggs, especially in the winter months.
Setting up a Roadside Stand
Before you start, think about other roadside stands you have seen.
Would you have bought from them? Why did you buy from them – more importantly why didn’t you buy from them?
A tatty makeshift stand that’s held together with a couple of nails and duct tape is not going to attract customers! People will notice you can’t be bothered with a ‘good appearance’, so what else can’t you be bothered with?
You can either build your own stand or use a small garden shed for the task. Unless you have many other things for sale, a small home-made stand will probably be sufficient. Make it simple and fitting for your needs.
Freshly painted frame, good presentation of your products, even some whimsical decorations all help to attract folks. You need to put some time and effort into presentation – even if it’s just a sign saying ‘eggs for sale’.
If you are in a position to be able to have folks come to the door and ask for eggs, you need to ensure you are available at all reasonable hours.
If you want customers to come to your door, make sure you say something like ‘knock on the back door’ – it gives the idea that they are welcome and also gives direction! No one wants to be poking around looking for someone to buy the eggs from!
A poster showing your hens and the pasture etc. will let people know your hens are free rangers. A couple of close-ups of your girls will likely bring a smile to faces and they will remember you for the future.
Make sure your products and prices are clearly displayed so there is no room for confusion, always check your spelling.
If you rely on peoples’ honesty and are using an honesty box, do it cautiously. Ensure your money box cannot be broken into and bolt in to the stand. Sadly, people can and will take not only your product but your cash too.
How Much Should I Sell My Eggs For?
Many consumers these days are aware of the terrible conditions in which hens are kept in the commercial world and will buy local, free range eggs whenever possible.
Pricing your eggs to sell can be tricky. If you take into account all your expenses (feed, housing, water, electric etc.) the eggs may be too expensive for many folks, especially when they can buy a dozen much cheaper at the supermarket.
I generally sell mine to cover the cost of their feed.
Pricing will also have to take into account the local availability of your product. If you live in town, folks may pay more for fresh laid eggs. In some rural areas where almost everyone has chickens, you may have to sell them cheaper. Markets fluctuate, so keep your eyes open!
If your customers live a short distance away from you, they may appreciate ‘free delivery’ of their eggs – it really personalizes the service.
If you raise bantams, quail or ducks there are specialty markets out there for you. Bakers love duck eggs – if you have never baked with duck eggs I highly recommend it!!
You will have to do your homework to find these places, but it can be well worth it in the long run. If you can get a small local restaurant or bakery to buy all your eggs that is a bonus and a good start for your small business.
Legalities of Egg Selling
Finally, we need to touch on the legalities of selling eggs to the public. In a nutshell, small private sales from your home are typically exempt from licensing.
If you wish to sell at farm markets, CSAs’, local stores, then you need to be licensed. You also need to be inspected by the USDA and have your facilities inspected yearly.
Each state in the US is different and the UK and Canada also have licensing systems in place which you will need to comply with (if you sell there). It can be frustrating to plow through the rules and regulations, but to avoid problems it is well worth the effort.
If you do plan on becoming a business you will also need a business license(s). These are usually available from the municipal building; the cost varies from State to State but is usually quite reasonable.
For example, in NY state you will only need a business license if you have over 1000 dozen eggs to sell per year!
Links to your local state requirements can be found here: www.nerous.org.
In general, the rules are not too onerous for the backyard seller, it only gets complicated once you decide you want to make it a business.
Selling some of your eggs can be a great way to cover the cost of your feed. This way, all the eggs that aren’t sold you get for ‘free’.
An average fifty pound feed bag costs $15 here and will last thirty hens around two weeks. If you can sell your eggs at $3/dozen you’re going to need three dozen eggs/week to cover the cost of the feed.
Every penny helps and if you stash the cash in a separate container, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly it adds up!
Do your research, enjoy making your farm stand and enjoy the pocket money generated by your ladies. Who knows? You might make enough to buy some more chickens!
Let us know in the comments below if you sell your eggs and how much for…