You got chickens in your backyard with the intention of getting fresh eggs for your family. You might be keeping chicken as a means of self-sufficiency, with eggs as the cheapest source of proteins available to man.
When the eggs start coming, you have them for breakfast, every day. As you take good care of your hens, they provide more and more eggs. Sooner than later, you are preparing all manner of egg-based dishes, meal after meal.
The eggs start to pile up and you have too many to keep. A lightbulb idea moment hits you. “I can sell the eggs and make an extra coin. Since my eggs are farm fresh, probably and organic, I will get interested buyers. Store-bought eggs have nothing on your eggs when it comes to taste. “
People want eggs from birds that have been treated humanely. And you treat your hens as egg queens. That is why they keep giving you eggs, happily.
Selling your backyard chicken eggs should be one of the fulfilling phases in your poultry-keeping endeavor. It can be a light task if you plan and set out well.
You will need to do a proper market survey, comply with the law, grade and package well, come up with a fair price and create good customer care and retention plan. Otherwise, failure to do so can lead to frustration and even loss of money.
Having said that, let us look into some of the ways that can make the process of selling eggs easier.
Carry out a Chicken Egg Market survey
Your first clients might be friends and family. Once they taste your eggs, they will want more. Some may order 12 dozens every week. While this is an awesome way to start, it is good to also survey your potential market. This will not only help you manage your production but also make decisions such as pricing, packaging, and branding among other decisions.
Do your market survey way in advance on where best to sell your eggs and to who? Look out for special markets. Some people prefer pastured eggs, while others prefer fresh organic eggs. Other potential clients might not mind the type of eggs at all.
- You can sell at the farmers’ market or through the local poultry CSA.
- You can sell them to your family, friends, nearby stores, or have a booth somewhere in your hood.
- You can target to supply businesses that need eggs in large amounts. An example can be restaurants or bakeries.
Follow the Law and Local Regulations
There are rules, regulations, procedures that govern the sale of poultry products. They differ from place to place, county to county, state to state. Of importance is to be conversant with your areas’ governing laws and regulations.
Some laws that regulate the sell of chicken eggs include:-
- Labeling – The terms used on the packaging e.g organic, free-range, pastured, Omega 3, etc. The laws also dictate the details that must be included in the packaging e.g. Name, address, telephone, lot number, etc.
- Packaging – Some areas may regulate what type of packaging is used. Reuse of packaging may be prohibited or allowed under certain conditions. In states such as the state of Maryland, you may use used packaging as long as you mark out the detail of the original seller. These include marking out the seller’s name, lot numbers, sell-by dates, USDA grade shield, quality certifications such as PA certified, UEP certified, MEQAP, PEQAP. These can be marked out using a sharpie (marker pen).
- Grading and Sizing – Some states may regulate what size of eggs are packaged together. The sale of unclassified eggs is not allowed in these States.
- Mandatory registration – Some State laws make it mandatory for you to register your premises as premises owning a flock. Upon registration, you will be issued a registration number, which must be included in your labeling. Registration in some states is free, for poultry keepers with less than 3000 birds. For over 3000 birds, you need to pay inspection fees.
- Transportation of eggs – Some state laws dictate that eggs must be transported under certain conditions until they reach the customer e.g temperature must be below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grade and Size your Chicken Eggs.
When selling eggs commercially, you will need to grade and size them according to laid-out standards. If you are selling your eggs privately, grading may not be a requirement in your State.
When grading eggs, you measure the interior and exterior qualities of the eggs while when sizing eggs measures the weight of the eggs, per dozen.
There are two procedures carried out when grading eggs. One is the exterior grading of eggs which looks at the quality of the shell and the other is the interior grading of eggs that looks at the quality of the air cell, albumen, and yolk.
Exterior grading of eggs
When doing exterior grading, you will look at the eggshell. It should be oval, with one end bigger than the other. The shell should be smooth, with no rough patches or spots. The eggs should have no cracked or broken shells. You can use an egg candler to check whether there are cracks that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Interior Grading of eggs
When doing interior grading, you will use an egg candler, a process known as candling. This process allows you to look inside the egg, examining the yolk, albumen, and air cell.
The air cell, which is the empty space between the shell and the egg white (albumen) at the larger end of an egg, should not be bigger than normal. When an egg gets older, the air cell depth enlarges, lowering the quality of the egg.
The egg white, also known as the albumen, should be clear, without discolorations or floating spots. It should be dense, allowing limited movement of the yolk.
The yolk should have a clearly distinguishable outline and should not have any spots.
Eggs that have any spots in the albumen or yolk should not be sold.
In the USA, there are 3 egg grade categories. These are AA, A and B.
- USDA Grade AA eggs – According to the USDA, grade AA eggs Have clean intact shells that are not broken. The yolks are round with no defects and the albumens are firm and thick
- USDA Grade A eggs – The USDA grade A eggs carry all the qualities of Grade AA, except in this grade the egg whites do not have to be as firm as for Grade AA.
- USDA Grade B eggs – Grade B eggs should have intact shells. The shells can be stained. The albumen can be thinner and yolks wider and flatter. Grade B eggs are not sold but used for making powdered eggs or liquid egg products.
Upon Grading, you will can use the USDA Grade Badges on your labels. The shield will contain the Grade and he words “Cage Free” where applicable.
Please note that Egg grades do not indicate the size of the eggs, but their quality. Any size of egg can be included in any of the grades.
Sizing Chicken Eggs.
Sizing eggs measures the size of the eggs, per dozen eggs. The weight per egg is taken on average, based on a dozen. When sizing eggs, you put 12 eggs together and then weigh. Then you will divide the weight by 12 to know the size of the egg.
Let us look at the USDA approve egg weights, per egg and per dozen.
- Jumbo – Jumbo eggs will weigh a minimum of 2.5 ounces per egg and 20 ounces per dozen
- Extra-Large – Extra Large eggs will weigh a minimum of 2.25 ounces per egg and 27 ounces per dozen
- Large – Large eggs will weigh a minimum of 2 ounces per egg and 24 ounces per dozen
- Medium – Medium eggs will weigh 1.75 ounces per egg and 21 ounces per dozen
- Small – Small eggs will weigh a minimum of 1.5 ounces per egg and 18 ounces per dozen
- Peewee – Peewee eggs will weigh a minimum of 1.25 ounces per egg and 15 ounces per dozen
Package and Label Your Eggs
One of the principles of selling any product is presented. How you present your eggs might what makes the customer make the purchase. Customers might pass your tasty perfect eggs if the presentation is not well done. Your hens and you have put in a lot of work to produce quality eggs. Now you need the world to see them for what they are.
First of all, clean your eggs well. Dirty and stained eggs are generally not acceptable for public sale. Moreover, why sell a dirty product to your customers!
Package them well to avoid breakages that lead to loss of money. The best way to package them is in cartons. Cartons are widely available at pocket-friendly prices. You can add value to your carton by adding a ribbon, giving them that attractive and creative look!
After packaging, you will need to label your eggs. Be careful not to make claims about your eggs that you cannot substantiate. A great label for your egg cartons should be informative and follow laid-out guidelines.
The label for your eggs should be have your business branding. A nice logo or photo of your best layers can send a great message.
When starting out of a shoestring budget you can go for generic egg carton labels like the one below. You can add other details such as the sell-by date on the label using a pen. This should work well if you are your fresh eggs selling at the farmers’ market.
If you are selling at the farmers’ market, farm stands or roadside stands, take time to develop good branding and display that will be attractive as well communicate the value of your eggs.
Set a good price for your eggs
You will need to set a good price for your eggs. The selling price should put into consideration the costs incurred during production as well as a reasonable profit margin. It should put into consideration the local market price for eggs.
Your eggs are great, but you might not get any sales if you are selling at $30 per dozen, while the market price is $3 per dozen. If the market price is too low for you to make a profit, you will need to look at ways of reducing your production costs.
Develop a great Customer Care And Communication Strategy
Good customer care will keep your customers ordering your excellent eggs. Develop a good relationship with your customers to retain them and help you enlarge your database.
Listen to their cares, concerns, and complaints and attend to each accordingly. Be reliable. Be consistent with your quality of eggs, packaging, and delivery. Surprise your repeat customers with discounts and bonuses when you can.
Let your customers know more about eggs. For instance, the nutritional value of eggs, uses of eggs, how to dispose of the shells, how to clean and get rid of egg smell, and much more.
Keep your ears on the ground to learn about any changes in the market, innovation, offers, and opportunities. Learn more from friends, news, online, etc.
In this manner, you will add value to your sale of eggs as a business.