Start Your Egg-venture! Tips for Hatching a Backyard Egg Business

Discussion in 'Sponsored Content, Contests, and Giveaways' started by Monica S, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. Monica S

    Monica S BYC Content and Advertising Specialist

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    By Tiffany Towne, Nutrena[​IMG] Poultry Expert

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    You’ve cared for them, raised them, housed them and, dare we say it … pampered them. And now your flock is healthy, happy … and producing more eggs than you know what to do with! This is a great problem to have – and it may mean you should consider taking on a new venture in poultry, like starting your own backyard egg business.

    First and foremost, the key to a successful egg business is a high-quality product. There are several ways you can impact the eggs you provide to customers.


    Strong Shells


    One of the main differentiating factors between eggs from your flock and store-bought eggs is the strength of the eggshell. A hard-shelled egg is pleasing to crack against the pan. Here’s how you can influence the strength of the eggshells in your hens:

    • Make sure a commercial layer ration is available at all times and makes up the majority of the diet. This type of feed includes the correct vitamins and minerals, including extra calcium, for excellent quality eggshells.
    • Offer oyster shells or other types of supplemental calcium free choice. Provide this in a separate container and allow birds to have access 24/7. They’ll take what they need. A hen’s requirement for calcium varies greatly based on her age, stage in the lay cycle, and other factors. Even though layer rations have extra calcium, it still may not be enough. That’s why extra supplemental calcium is essential.
    • Don’t over feed treats. Even though they are good girls and certainly deserve it, don’t give your flock members too many extras. Treats include things like scratch grains and kitchen scraps. These unbalance the diet and can affect eggshell quality.


    Golden Yolks


    There is nothing more beautiful than cracking a fresh egg and seeing a dark golden yolk. Yolk color is affected by the bird’s diet. Birds that free range on dark leafy greens will have darker yolk color due to the carotenoids that occur naturally in the diet. But if you don’t have the space or ability to free range your birds, don’t despair. Providing a feed that includes marigold as an ingredient will provide the carotenoids that give your eggs a dark golden yolk, too. Keep in mind, yolk color has no effect on the nutritional value of the egg.


    Egg Whites


    An egg that stands up in the pan and gives you a delicious egg white is definitely a good goal. One of the best ways to achieve a nice egg white is to ensure your eggs are fresh. Have you ever cracked an egg and noticed that the white is runny or watery? That’s probably because the egg was not as fresh. Eggs that have just recently been plucked from the nest box will tell you how fresh they are by the way the egg white looks – it should hold together well and not be runny.
    Another way to get awesome egg whites is to feed the correct amount and balance of amino acids. The correct combinations will affect the Haugh units (the measurement of how high the egg stands up in the pan). Again, a commercial layer feed will provide the amino acids that your girls require.


    Shell Color


    While you can’t impact shell color by what you feed your hens, you can plan for shell color when you are considering breeds for your flock. Eggshell color depends on the breed of the hen. You can tell if a hen will lay a brown egg if her earlobe is red. If her earlobe is white, she will lay white eggs. The ever popular Easter Eggers are the chickens that lay the blue or green and even pink eggs.


    Promote your business


    Once you have beautiful eggs, you are ready to get the word out that they are for sale. There are some easy ways to do this:

    Tell your friends and neighbors that you are selling your eggs. Chances are they will “flock” to the opportunity to buy eggs fresh from you girls versus purchasing them at the store. Spread the word further by posting a flier on your local community bulletin board, civic center, or at your local farm store.


    Price Appropriately


    Compare the price of eggs at your supermarket, farmer’s market, etc., and talk to your customers about what they may be willing to pay. Then decide your price based on make sense for you. You may be able to demand a premium for certain benefits (free delivery, cage-free, etc.), depending on your customer base.

    Don’t underestimate the value that many people place on buying local. Above all, have fun with your new business egg-venture!

    To find a Nutrena dealer near you, visit www.NutrenaPoultryFeed.com. Also sign up for Flock Minder at www.FlockMinder.com to receive timely tips delivered directly to your inbox.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
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  2. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd just like to say that in order for you to have good laying hens, that you don't need egg layer ration, my hens lay more eating whole corn, oats, and a bit of oyster shells everyday
     
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  3. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Well fresh food from a mill or something or at least whole ingredients instead of commercial stuff is of course going to be better anyways and they'll probably lay more but just corn, oats, and oyster shell isn't at all a balanced diet and where is the protein??? If you don't have health problems now you will eventually....
    . And even if you don't, it's probably just luck and not something to be recommended
     
  4. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Whole corn here offers 18% protein actually. And its much cheaper. I've actually talked to poultry vets about it and they said it would be totally fine and that my chickens wouldn't have nay health problems.
     
  5. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Really? Wow. Well I guess if you talked to a vet then it might be fine but I've just heard a lot, mostly on here how scratch (which is mostly corn and some other stuff) Isn't balanced or how it's bad or whatever but maybe whole corn is different than cracked corn? Also do yours free range? Because if they do they'd probably be fine but for confined birds maybe it would be a problem?
     
  6. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes they free range. Whole corn is so much better for them then the stuff that's in scratch, they get a little bit of layer feed every other day also in there big feeder. The reason I feed them how I do is beacsue I have a 4-5 foot long feeder, its probably 6 inches deep and 5 inches wide. I fill it all the way up with oats, then the chickens are able to eat all day. when I let them out in the morning I fill up a coffee can that has corn, oyster shells, and oats in it and throw it out to them in the yard. When I lock them up at night I put some corn, a little bit of layer feed, and oysters on top and they eat that. They are then able to eat as much as they want in oats all day, and some corn, oyster shells, when I let them out. some corn and layer feed at night, feeding the corn and layer feed at night also helps train younger chickens that they should come in at night also
     
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  7. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Ahh that makes a lot more sense then. Although you mentioned you do put some layer feed in there, I'm sure it2not much but it probably still helps them stay more balanced along with the free ranging to just get bugs and stuff. If somebody only fed the corn and oats with no free ranging then maybe there would be problems. Or maybe the problem comes from feeding only scratch and whole corn is maybe better. But yours free range which us probably oart of why they hsve no issues
     
  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    After producing those abundant eggs from good nutrition (thank you for the article), the first step to any backyard egg business should be to check your state laws. Do you have the ability to sell "farm to consumer?"  If not, your venture may require licensing. Also check for language if farmer's markets are allowed as a place of "farm direct" distribution. Some are, some are not. Generally if you try to sell to restaurants or markets or any redistributor, even in small number, you are required to maintain an egg producer/dealer license, are required to uphold state egg regulations (and possibly FDA as well), and your facility may be required to be inspected.

    Whether or not any licensing is required, once you begin to sell to the general public, you may want to consider your methods of chicken keeping. What is acceptable for a family's personal use may not be recommendable for eggs sold to others.

    Do you worm? How do you fend off external parasites? You may need to consider only products that are FDA approved for "layers of eggs for human consumption." The list of drugs for layers is very limited. AND it can be challenging to keep up with the current regulations as approved drugs change regularly.

    The list becomes even smaller if you desire to be "organic." Organic labeling is fairly restrictive, so if you desire to sell "organic," you will need to be aware of those additional requirements as well.

    While most small producers are exempt from egg inspection and general poultry producer licensing laws, and there is no "egg police" running around to inspect small holders, the issue of general care could arise if anyone became sick from your eggs. Remaining within FDA guidelines could show an effort has been made to maintain good industry practices.

    Most states have egg handling fact sheets (and many have egg handling requirements) for small producers through their Ag Departments. In these fact sheets they will recommend how you should collect and handle your eggs for distribution. Many states require labeling your egg cartons to indicate produced/packaged in a "non-inspected facility" or "these eggs come from a non government approved source" and may require removal of any previous producer's label. (Many of us sell in clean reused store cartons, but this technically is not "legal" in most states).

    I'll link some websites that have been beneficial for me in figuring out how to best handle eggs for small scale distribution.

    One final thought, at some point a decision will need to be made whether or not to really make the business work or to scale back and enjoy your hobby selling only to a few select friends to offset feed costs. There does come a "tipping point" where you either really put effort into this, or simply scale back and enjoy life keeping chickens. Any successful business will require careful planning, implementation, and investment, which can take the joy out of chicken care unless you are really prepared for the commitment.

    Good luck in your endeavors.

    Lady of McCamley

    http://sd.appstate.edu/sites/sd.appstate.edu/files/egghandling.pdf
    http://nerous.org/state-laws-regulations/egg-laws-by-state/
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
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  9. WPFarmstead

    WPFarmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, if you have roosters you should not feed a layer feed. This is my biggest pet peeve for my flock. I cannot find a good non-layer feed in any local feed store.
     
  10. knightgang

    knightgang Out Of The Brooder

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    This is not a true statement. There is nothing in Layer feed that will hurt the rooster. Mine has been getting layer feed for the past 7 months and I know others that have fed layer feed to the rooster for 20 years with no adverse affects.

    I personally am now feeding a home mix, but not due to the rooster, but changed the entire flock. Hard to separate feed rations when they share the same coop.
     

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