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Your Backyard Egg Sales (Marketing and Branding)


A quick disclaimer: Please research your county/city ordinances and all applicable tax codes before creating your own backyard sales plan.

Every year, they pop up like little beacons of an early spring - you've seen them, in fact, you may even own one: a fold-out sign advertising that your hens are back in business! "Eggs for Sale!" "Farm Fresh Eggs Sold Here!" Or, as one of our neighbors down the street puts it "Range Eggs $4.50" - I have a sneaking suspicion she doesn't call them "Free Range" because people thought the eggs were actually "free!"

However you choose to get the word out, selling eggs is, indeed, on many chicken owner's minds. Some of us want to subsidize our hobby, some may just want to "break even" with the feed bill, and some may even desire to make a small profit from their enterprise. Whatever your goals, effectively marketing your product can help you achieve them.

When our family decided it was time to take the plunge into backyard poultry land, chicken math got the best of us. We went from "Oh, we just want to get a few birds because our house came with a ready made coop and fenced acreage on which to pasture them" to "I can easily add three more coops and fully enclosed pens." My husband laughingly chided me, "What are you going to do with all the eggs!? We're going to be over run with them!"

I took my husband's chiding as a bit of a challenge. I needed a plan. When the girls out back began to lay, I wanted to make sure those eggs would not just be piling up in my refrigerator. The first question I asked myself was - what makes my eggs better than the ones in the store? Pretty much every household uses eggs, so why should they switch to mine? As every backyarder knows, the public must be educated about the value of non-commercial egg production. So, I began a blog and turned my friends and family its direction in order to begin the conversation. I understand that writing is not an enjoyable hobby for everyone, so one might start by simply emailing friends and family about your endeavors, and perhaps posting some articles on social media about the benefits of eating free range eggs, or the humane practices and excellent health care employed by backyard flock owners.

My next step was to consider the name of my enterprise. There are some absolutely amazing names for small scale chicken "farms" and I may have researched every last one of them! Some were cute and endearing, some were straight forward, and some were full of great puns. I asked myself, "What message do I want to convey in my title?" We settled on "Little Ranchland Farm" because I wanted people to know we are a small enterprise, but that we take our chicken farming seriously - "Ranchland" is simply the name of our street.


Once we had our name and our purpose, and even before our chickens were laying "sellable sized" eggs, I cut dozen egg cartons in half and made "pullets packs" as free gifts to folks who had expressed an interest in becoming regular customers. I had quite a few used (but clean) egg cartons, but felt there needed to be a way to identify them as "ours" so I created a flyer to rubber band to each pack. Our flyers are half sheets of 8-1/2x11 paper with our logo, phone number and blog site on the front and an article, chicken biography, or funny chicken story on the back. When I gave my first pullets packs away, I encouraged feedback, but also reminded them that they were in for such a treat with that little box of gems!


The toughest part of marketing my own product is the "ask." I had the strategy all set up, I just needed to ask folks if they wanted to begin weekly purchases of our eggs. Why was this so difficult? Not being a salesperson at heart, I had to remind myself that I actually provide a service that people need and want. If they said "no" it was their loss, not mine. So, I asked.

Currently, I have as many weekly dozen deliveries as my hens can fill the boxes for. If I ever have extras, I give my customers or neighbors a call and they generally scoop them up. I print up a new story for my flyer every week, and have great responses to this little bonus. One client doesn't want the cardboard boxes (she gives me a plastic container to fill) but she said, "I still want the stories!"

Creating your own "brand" for your egg sales really just requires you to be you! Think about your own flock, the message you want to convey, and your most comfortable means for conveying it. You love that group of chatty, goofy gals out back, and their amazing eggs - now it's time to convince every one else!

Oh, and by the way, mornings at our house often include my husband asking, "Are there any eggs left for me?"

Comments (22)

Good job, well written!
Very well written, I'd give you a ten if there was a poll.
Very well put! I like that you put a story with each carton. I'd be a buyer! 
Love the story idea as well as the pullet packs.
Really good article! I'm excited to get started!!
Loved the article!
Craigslist is a great starting point- every customer we got from there became a regular, then one coworker became several and that brought us to capacity.  I think there are folks out there that wait for another flock to pop up to gain a steady supply!  Price wise, we looked at store eggs of the free range variety, cage free etc. and have no problems emptying the fridge.
Also, food pantries in your local community may be very happy to see your eggs of any size, pullet eggs on up.  Do contact the organization to make sure they are able to accept refrigerated items - some do not have refrigeration capacity, or are only open every two weeks etc. so storage is a bigger issue.  I looked for one that was open multiple days a week - makes storage almost a moot point.  They even offered to replenish the cartons.
How do you decide how much to charge?
Good question, because not only did I have a hard time asking folks to buy eggs, I also had a hard time setting a price point. I started under market retail price first (I use organic feed, so I compared them with the organic- free range eggs in the market which go for about $5 a dozen) so I figured $3.50 was good since half of my customers have never bought an organic anything and are used to the 1.99 white egg grocery store price. So far, I haven't had anyone blink at the cost, and am just breaking even with my feed bill, so will probably raise it to $4. I will probably do a trial run of the new price on CL and see how many bites I get.
$4/dozen large keeps the fridge empty around here, though we're very near lots of residential - also looked at CL postings for the area and that was the going rate.  We offer a discount every time customers return a carton- carton cost adds up - $.33 or so even bought in bulk- so $.25/dozen off with a returned carton.
Depending on how long you've been feeding chickens - remember that we still feed them when they're growing up and when they're molting- so take into account how much it costs you to feed all the chickens year-round.  Usually the April-June chicks keep our flock laying through the dead of winter, so it's important to calculate what it costs you all year, not just while they're laying.  Now, some of us will probably have "pension" chickens that we'll feed through old age...  and others will eliminate them after 2 seasons - up to you how to calculate that number in...
Great points @Shezadandy! I also do a little bartering with my other small farms friends for great quality, homegrown goods.
great insight, thanks for sharing! LOVE the "stories" idea :)
Fantastic article with a lot of great ideas!!
Thanks oorpeople- I've got a friend who exchanges her eggs for fresh milk straight from the cow regularly!  =)
Nice article for the marketing and start up of a backyard egg business.
 
To flesh out some of the legalities a bit better, after checking with your local ordinances and farm to customer direct (if any) local restrictions, you will need to be aware of federal  restrictions for poultry being used for food products.
 
The FDA has a list of approved and restricted drugs and substances for use on hens that lay eggs for human consumption (layers). This may cause some backyard owners to rethink what has previously been used for their flock with regards to wormers and common medicines.
 
Currently, with the new 2017 FDA laws, a lot of commonly used meds are now banned or not approved for use in layers. That means if you desire to treat with anything off label, even the popular worming meds such as Safeguard (fenbendazole) or Wazine, technically, according to the FDA, you are to never use that bird again for meat or eggs in sales to the general public (which includes friends and neighbors). 
 
Even a vet script will not exclude that animal from the FDA food restrictions for off label products.
 
That means each backyard chicken owner must consider their position within not only local and state but also federal regulations. Since there is no federal "egg police" for small holders, and no inspections of facilities or eggs for small holders (less than 3,000), how this likely plays out is thus... if any customer should get sick and think that it was your eggs that caused their illness, the eggs would very likely be tested. If the eggs were found to contain residue from a restricted substance, according to the FDA, you would be held liable for all FDA regulations with potential financial penalties.
 
It is a bit of a "no man's land," again as there are no "egg police" running around checking small holders. Often backyard sellers choose to use products previously known to be effective for poultry but practice withholding times that exceed known studies for residue . FARAD has a backyard egg withdrawal suggestion article.  Please note that article is from 2015 so recommendations may be changed after the full implementation of the new 2017 restrictive rules that are to be fully phased in by August or September 2017.
 
The safest route is to never treat any hen with anything that is not FDA approved for laying hens if you plan to sell eggs to the public (which includes friends and neighbors). You may keep such hens for family use only or as pets.
 
If you plan to sell with "organic" labeling, that's a whole new level of restrictions, and you will need to adhere to the criteria of "organic" recommendations for poultry including feed as well as any treatments.
 
Good luck with your backyard selling adventures.
LofMc
Another consideration in the backyard egg business is egg handling and storage. While not all aspects will be necessary for every small holder, many of the points in this article will prove beneficial to make sure your eggs are safe and at their best quality for sale.
 
Also check with your state regulations for small sales. Often it is required that the eggs are labeled as coming from a "non-inspected facility" and the owners name and residence should be included on the label. Re-used egg cartons are discouraged in many places and considered "illegal" in others. So know your local state regulations as well.
LofMc
All great information, LofMc. I think it would be awesome if you would consider writing an up-to-date egg safety article. (I know there are some on byc, but it is always good to keep the info "present" - not lost on a lonely thread somewhere on the second page of google!)
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