Selling chicken eggs for a profit seems like a great idea on the surface. There is a good chance you are raising chickens for yourself anyway. Raising chickens is how many start with their homestead.
I really enjoyed having laying hens. We purchased chicks from our local UFA store, so we raised them from chick stage to laying stage and beyond.
It was such a joy to be able to go open the henhouse every morning, watching the girls are excited at the door. They could not wait to get out onto the fresh green grass. I loved our chickens. They had such personalities.
A couple of years after we purchased old layers or layers that were considered ‘shot out’. We got them for cheap and figured, why not. We had the feed on our yard and the barn.
That was a bad idea….
Selling eggs is often one of the first avenues of income on a homestead. You don’t need a lot of acreage to raise hens. A lot of semi-urban centers will even allow several chickens on your lot.
However, there is a bit more to raising laying hens than meets the eye. And that’s what I want to cover today.
Selling eggs to your community is a great way to make a little bit of income while building your homestead, but you need to be aware that it is usually not as easy as it seems on the surface.
Things To Consider Before Buying Laying Hens
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Demand and Supply
We live in a farming community and there are more than several farmers selling chicken eggs to the public. You need to assess the demand for chicken eggs in your area.
Are people aware of the health benefits of grass-fed chicken eggs? Do they still need teaching on the difference in taste and health benefits of free-range eggs?
More and more people are becoming aware of the horrendous conditions conventionally raised chickens live in. That stress gets into their egg production too.
Eggs are a resource that we will always need. It’s a demand that gets used up, so the demand is always there again. If the demand is great in your community, the chance of building a profitable egg business is much higher.
This was the biggest problem that we ran into when raising laying hens. We live in an area where our winters get to -40 degrees Celsius (-40F). Our barn was not equipped to deal with the massive amount of condensation that 30+ chickens produced.
The humidity in the barn must have been close to 100%. It was so wet. We ran into the problem of our door freezing shut (we were unable to get in to feed them), and the barn floor actually started rotting away.
A wooden floor is not ideal for laying hens in the far north. A cement floor would work much better. Also, you need to have ventilation in your barn. Another thing that is helpful is having a water source where the chickens can not make a mess.
Your hens might stop laying when the days get shorter. We found that this happens more with older hens, but you can also ‘trick’ them into laying more by adding lights into their coops.
If your chicken coop is filled with light for 16 hours of the day, they will usually continue laying. Chickens will have a natural time of ‘molting’, where they don’t lay eggs quite as often, but this usually doesn’t long.
A pause in laying eggs is very natural and good for chickens. Their body goes through this time for a reason, and it’s best to accept it and just wait until they start again.
Proper Egg Laying Stations
Another thing that is VERY IMPORTANT is to have good laying stations. Washing disgusting eggs is not on my list of favorite things to do.
Washing eggs that are stained and yucky is not fun! It makes the small income not worth it. Buy or build good egg nests, and it will be much less of a hassle.
Selling eggs for profit is deceptively non-profitable. A lot of farmers are giving away their products without realizing it because they fail to track expenses.
If the bottom number doesn’t make sense at the end of the day, then why are you doing it? Don’t work for free.
Feed from the farm store costs a pretty penny, and if you aren’t charging enough, you will be giving eggs away for free. Start by tracking all your feed expenses.
Take into consideration the cost of your chickens as well, because you will need to start replacing them after several years (although well cared for chickens can live for many years).
What’s Your Selling Factor
What makes the chicken eggs raised on your homestead unique?
Yes, eggs are very valuable, but why should they buy from you? How are you marketing your eggs? Are your chickens free-range, grass-fed, humanely treated?
For most homesteaders, their animals are part of the family. There is a strong emotional connection with our animals, and we want them treated well.
You could also have an open farm, where you allow your customers to come and see where their eggs come from.
Marketing is an important part of your business plan if you want to make your egg farming profitable. This ties into your selling factor as well. How are you going to get the word out that you have chicken eggs to sell?
Just hanging up a sign on your fence will not be enough. Look into advertising, local Facebook group, and flyers. Do you deliver eggs, or is it on-farm pick up? These are all factors to consider.
Back to our bad experience with buying ‘shot out’ eggs. We bought them with the intent that they would produce eggs just for our family. Not to sell.
The character of these laying hens was a complete 180 degree different from the ones we had raised from chicks. They were raised in small boxes, three hens to a box.
Their living conditions in their previous barn were deplorable. Crowded, dusty, and dirty, the chickens were permanently harmed. They did not produce a lot of eggs after we got them.
They were simply not worth it. We wanted to let them out onto green grass, but they refused to go out of their coop. It was the strangest thing and taught me a lot about bad laying hen management. We ended up getting rid of them at the end of the summer.
Building a Profitable Egg Farm is not easy. It requires hard work, strategic marketing, and investment. Building a business plan before making the investment is always a wise thing to do. Just selling a couple of eggs to friends here and there will not fund your homestead.
In conclusion, egg farming can be profitable when you are aware of the costs associated with egg production. You want your prices low enough that you will obtain customers, but high enough so that you can still make a profit.