Egg Production: What You Need to Do and Charge to Make It Pay

I adore eggs, the way they look with their different shades of white, off-white, tan, brown, green, and blue, their smooth shell, their sensual shape. I love to eat eggs, the quick and easy package of calories, protein, and nutrients they provide and the myriad of ways they can be cooked. In fact, I just ate two sunny-side eggs on top of black beans with an avocado on top for breakfast this morning, taking all of 5 minutes to put the dish together. Even the most expensive eggs provide more protein, calories, and nutrient-density than most meat of the same volume, so they are a populist food. Those that are allergic to eggs or don't like the taste are missing out, but I fully understand. I hate the sulfury flavor of an overcooked egg too. Many small and beginning farmers start with laying hens because of their low-cost of entry and relatively quick cash turn around. Egg production can be a focal point of a farm (as ours once was) or a nice ancillary enterprise for a diversified farm. The hens themselves provide a multitude of benefits to the farm- pest eradication, fertilizer, weed consumption, waste recyclers, entertainment, etc. But increasingly, egg production can be a farm's downfall, money pit, or both. I have to write this article because I am helping yet another farmer understand that their costs of production are too high and that their egg prices are too low in compariso

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7 thoughts on “Egg Production: What You Need to Do and Charge to Make It Pay

  1. How accurate is the study that free range chickens produce less eggs than confined chickens. My chickens & eggs are for my own personal use mind you….I have 8 chickens and they produce fantastic on a daily basis even through the winter with about a week break mid February and they are free range.
    They are most definitely earning their keep with their egg production. Thank you for this great article.

  2. wow, my cos per dozen using local certified organic groan is $7.50 per dozen. Fortunately I will sell the eggs via my CSA for $8 a dozen so will be able to make a very small profit. But If I sold for $8 a dozen to he public I would lose money as few would sell at that price

    1. Lucy- you may need to work on getting your feed costs down. If you are paying $7.50/dozen in feed costs alone, perhaps you need to look to purchasing feed in bulk or use more productive hens. I have never heard of anyone having feed costs that high.

  3. I often see the admonition that egg producers need to cull unproductive birds, from old farming books from the 50’s right through to this article. When you have a few hundred birds that all look pretty much identical running around and you are just coming in a few times a day to feed and collect eggs, how do you know which hens are the freeloaders who aren’t paying their way and need to go?

    1. Michael- I would not make sense in flocks that large to figure out bird by bird which ones are more productive. What we did and many other egg producers do is to simply cull out all the birds of a certain age. We generally do that after two lay cycles. We would purchase a different breed or different color bird for each flock, that way we could tell them apart. We also generally ran flocks separately and didn’t mix them, mainly for biosecurity reasons (vaccines wear off). That makes it easy to know how old a flock is and cull the whole thing (or sell them live to people who want a few for their backyard or their soup pot).

  4. Pretty realistic figures. The only difference I see from what I’m doing myself is feed cost. Mixing all my own feed I am monetizing my grain and covering all expenses at $.24 cents a pound instead of $.32.

    Also if you can develop a good market for spent hens it can almost cover the cost of raising the pullets.

    1. Harold- I agree. In many places you could get between $10-15 for a spent hen, either live or dressed out. That can cover your replacement pullet costs. But I do know some farmers who live in areas where they lack the population of people who want spent hens, so they struggle to sell them.

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