• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

How much do you charge or pay for fresh chicken eggs?

 
                                                
Posts: 43
Location: 14519
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I paid $2.50 per doz this week. Brown large eggs. Xlg are $3.00 He raised his prices after grain when up due to NY's law requiring us to purchase inferior gasoline.
 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It ranges from $4-6/dozen. $6 is for certified organic free range. $5 no gmo free range. $4 free range .

How much would you say that it would cost a family enough to maintain a flock enough to provide 2 dozen per week?
 
Posts: 39
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
[in Ireland] I keep around 50 chickens free range (mostly purebred dual-purpose breeds) and sell eggs out of an honor-box at the bottom of our drive on a quiet back-road for €2.00 for 6 (which would translate to about $5.30/dz at current exchange rates).
That's a fair price out here as I feed almost exclusively organic feed (2/3 layers pellets always organic, 1/3 grain organic if I can source it) and certified organic eggs retail at €2.80-3.00 per 6.
When I started out I thought most of my sales would be to organic heads/hippie types etc. Turns out, it's mostly the neighbours and some from a few miles away, most of them conventional farmers. Except around now when the "big egg flush" is on and before many of the girls are going broody and hatching egg sales start big time, demand always exceeds supply.
Having said all that, it is a zero-sum game, because feed is incredibly expensive here (€17.50 = $23.25 for 25 kg org. layers pellets (imported), €12.50 = $16.60 for 25 kg org. wheat bulk sourced from an Irish farm. It costs me about €30 ($40) to feed an adult bird per year, never mind housing, fencing etc., feeding the roosters, and all the work.
 
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just bought 100lbs of regular layer feed for $36. I have 9 hens and that will last me for about 6 weeks or more. But My Hens mostly free range and I only give them a small amount of the layer feed. I try to encourage them to forage more than eat from the feeder.
 
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Being transplanted from the Metro NYC area, our concept of value is greatly skewed from where we now live.

We have over 100 chickens, all completely free-range, pastured, supplemented with locally-made, all-natural (non-certified) organic feed. We began with 12 hens and one rooster only 2-3 years ago, and most of our current flock are descended from the originals, with a few exceptions (some make HUGE eggs!). They also get milk and whey from our cows (hand-milked, all natural), and veggies and leafy greens from our gardens. They are *so* free, some of them steal cat and dog food from our pets right off our porch, regardless of our pet food defenses.

Anyway, our neighbors and others driving by stop frequently, seeing 100+ chickens roaming freely throughout our property, and ask if we sell eggs. The problem here, in rural Alabama, is that they are looking to SAVE MONEY, and NOT eat better. Most people expect to pay -- and this is no exaggeration -- $1.00 per dozen! They also want to buy our (laying) chickens for $5.00/ea. I'd rather slaughter and freeze one for our consumption (something we do almost monthly to cull new roosters) or to give away to friends than sell one for that little!

As a matter of principle, we GIVE our eggs away to close friends, family, and (sometimes) neighbors. My wife and I refuse to sell anything that cheaply and support such a ridiculous perception of value.

When it comes to raw milk (which is illegal to sell for human consumption here in AL), the thinking is similar. So, the gallons of milk and many dozens of eggs we get every single day benefit a small cadre of friends and family (and us, of course). We never intended to sell anything, though our animals produce far in excess of what we can use personally, and as a result would *like* to recoup at least a nominal amount to supplement the tens of thousands of dollars we have sunk into our "lifestyle."

Unfortunately, regional perception simply does not allow it.
 
Brendan Getchel
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Thelma McGowan wrote:I just bought 100lbs of regular layer feed for $36. I have 9 hens and that will last me for about 6 weeks or more. But My Hens mostly free range and I only give them a small amount of the layer feed. I try to encourage them to forage more than eat from the feeder.



That's $720/ton! Is it certified organic? We buy (by the ton, so...) locally-made, all natural (non-GMO, no hormones, etc) layer and feed for $350/ton. The only unfortunate part is we have to drive 70 miles to pick it up, but we buy all of our feed -- cow, dairy, pig, chicken -- by the ton and make one trip every two months or so. It saves BIG in both dollars and time over the course of a year.
 
Posts: 3
Location: SW Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi all, I'm new here, having stumbled across this post on egg prices.

We have a couple thousand hens and sell our eggs though an organic marketing cooperative. We produce the eggs and the cooperative hauls them to a contracted processing plant where they are processed, packaged, and shipped out to retail markets.

Our production is USDA Certified Organic with hens kept cage free in a large hen house and having seasonal access to pasture.

At retail, our eggs fetch around $4.50 under the co-op's label.

From the farm I charge $2.50 per dozen for Jumbo eggs in our own cartons. The $2.50 is based on the the wholesale price we'd get for the eggs (just under $2 a dozen) plus a small amount for the extra labor and carton. Sometimes we deliver eggs into town. If we have to deliver them we charge $3 a dozen.
 
Mac McCarty
Posts: 3
Location: SW Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Brendan Getchel wrote:As a matter of principle, we GIVE our eggs away to close friends, family, and (sometimes) neighbors. My wife and I refuse to sell anything that cheaply and support such a ridiculous perception of value.



Why are those prices out of line? I can get an 18-week-old ready-to-lay certified organic pullet for $7.50. After a year of laying they are worth around $1 as a live bird from the farm (or whatever I could convince somebody to pay). I could dress them out and sell them as organic stewing hens for $6, maybe $7, each. (Comparable to $3 per lb). What makes you think that live layer is worth more than $5?


 
steward
Posts: 3488
Location: woodland, washington
118
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Brendan Getchel wrote:
That's $720/ton! Is it certified organic? We buy (by the ton, so...) locally-made, all natural (non-GMO, no hormones, etc) layer and feed for $350/ton. The only unfortunate part is we have to drive 70 miles to pick it up, but we buy all of our feed -- cow, dairy, pig, chicken -- by the ton and make one trip every two months or so. It saves BIG in both dollars and time over the course of a year.



how well does your feed keep over two months? I've found that two weeks is about all I can store feed before it goes stale and the birds won't touch it until they're really hungry. sort of turned me off buying feed at all.
 
Brendan Getchel
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

tel jetson wrote:
how well does your feed keep over two months? I've found that two weeks is about all I can store feed before it goes stale and the birds won't touch it until they're really hungry. sort of turned me off buying feed at all.



Maybe it's climate-related, but it seems to stay reasonably fresh, and none of our critters complain or eat any less, even as it gets down to zero. It still smells fresh, but the "bulk" we're buying now still comes in sealed 50# bags. We were buying large, bulk tote bags of Bovatec, which was more expensive and would quickly break down and clump, with some fungus clumps setting in.

Our new / natural feed does none of this. It smells great and keeps that smell even after 1-2 months of storage in the barn. The feed we use now is ground-up grasses and grains along with minerals, etc.

 
Brendan Getchel
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mac McCarty wrote:
Why are those prices out of line? I can get an 18-week-old ready-to-lay certified organic pullet for $7.50. After a year of laying they are worth around $1 as a live bird from the farm (or whatever I could convince somebody to pay). I could dress them out and sell them as organic stewing hens for $6, maybe $7, each. (Comparable to $3 per lb). What makes you think that live layer is worth more than $5?



Well, since we put so much into them, I guess they're just worth more -- to us. I'd rather slaughter and freeze the chicken, which makes it worth more than $5 to me, or give it to someone we like for free

If we had 10,000 of them, then maybe $5/ea would seem like a decent amount, but it isn't worth catching one and walking to the end of my driveway for that little. I don't think I'd even sell them at $10. It's just not enough incentive, unfortunately.
 
Mac McCarty
Posts: 3
Location: SW Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

tel jetson wrote:
how well does your feed keep over two months? I've found that two weeks is about all I can store feed before it goes stale and the birds won't touch it until they're really hungry. sort of turned me off buying feed at all.



I would expect it to keep for longer than two weeks.

I do see a slight difference in our bulk feed after about two weeks of storage though. Our birds eat about 5000 lbs a week and I order 2-3 weeks at a time. It is milled right before delivery. After two weeks or so I see a slight decrease in egg weights. With a fresh batch of feed I see a slight increase in egg weights. I'm not sure why this is. I see this effect even in the depths of our Wisconsin winter when the feed is kept below freezing. Either they are eating slightly less feed or the nutritional value drops slightly in that time frame. I don't know...

However, this effect is ever so slight. It's not like they are refusing to eat or starving to death because of poor feed quality. Since I collect over 300 lbs of eggs each day, and record the total egg mass and the number of eggs each day, I can see variations in average egg weight of less than one-half of one percent from day to day and see whether average egg size is trending up or down.
 
Posts: 24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We charge $3/dz for farm fresh free range ungraded eggs. This allows us a few dollars "profit" (feed cost compared to money received) a month. I'm just happy to break even since the chickens are kind of a hobby anyway. I just like having the chickens on the farm and some eggs for personal use.
 
Posts: 137
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in a community where there is one grocery store. The store pays the farmers 1.22 per dozen and she resells them for 2.00 per dozen to us. any more than that we would not buy them. The store in the big town which is thirty miles away sells eggs for one dollar and fifty seven cents per dozen.
 
Jeremiah wales
Posts: 137
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I see some people on this thread think that five dollars is a fair price. That seems very high. I would never pay that high of a price. That is fourty some cents per egg. I know there are expenses, But they are Eggs.........
 
pollinator
Posts: 255
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
42
dog forest garden books cooking bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Probably not relevant to most, but just for variety -- 1.5 EUR (about 1.8 USD) per 10 eggs at the farm in Slovenia.
 
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
206
cat fish trees books urban food preservation solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Currently here, store bought large eggs are running $1-1.10 a dozen. Those that have laying hens are charging about $2 a dozen. Most of those get to freerange and get supplemented with Layena (with oyster shell). A few have tried for $3 and nobody buys. Maybe near Easter when eggs go up and supply runs tight, they can sell. $5 for a live bird (meat bird) that will dress 3-4# is also a common price. Butchered will go $6-10 depending on weight. Store average is around $2-3 a pound here for industry farm raised-they don't stock anything fancy. Parts in store range from about $2-5 a pound.
 
Posts: 134
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yikes, what a range.  In 2017 I will be charging $6 CDN.  I did the math the other day, and at $5 CDN per dozen that I've been charging, I'm losing a bit of money.  Customers and other backyard producers say $6 is the going rate now for farm eggs, and that's the number I need to make things work.  For reference, "factory" eggs can be as little as $3 per dozen at the store.  Organic but non-certified feed has gone up to $20 for 20 kg, which is about 45 lb.  I live in a relatively remote and sparsely populated area, where transportation costs are high.  I pasture feed in summer, when I can be home, but can't do that for six months of the year.  Someone I know told me that she gives her chickens hay that she grows, and that suffices.  Must try taking the hay that the goats waste, to the chickens.  That would close a couple of loops.
 
Deb Rebel
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
206
cat fish trees books urban food preservation solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Regan Dixon,

A friend who keeps a flock, her spouse has a riding horse and he got some wheat that was not worth harvesting so the fellow straight baled it (big round bales). He also gets baled alfalfa for his horse, square regular sized bales.

She will give her chickens the scattered wheat hay and about 3 cm of an alfalfa bale a day when the weather is really bad and they have to stay in the coop (nice big coop, about 24 hens). That plus a feeder of Purina Layena with oyster shell, and some lights on timer to give them a longer day, and they are happy and will lay all winter.
 
Posts: 121
Location: zone 6a, NY
9
duck forest garden chicken
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Four dollars a dozen is pretty standard here. Six for duck.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1562
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
531
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My current prices:
...a dozen smalls & peewees $3
...a dozen mediums $4
...a dozen larges $5
...a dozen extra larges $6

 
Posts: 23
Location: Southern NSW Australia
6
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For pastured chook eggs in Australia, you're lookin at between $8-$12 per dozen (700gram - 900gram eggs). Can't even buy the cheap nasty eggs for $2 anymore. And you know what? In my mindset, eggs are one of the perfect foods. I'm happy to pay more in return for a better tasting, more nutritious egg. But if everyone felt that way, Aldi wouldn't still be selling out of their nasty month+ old eggs.
 
gardener
Posts: 220
Location: Morongo Valley
90
dog duck forest garden fish fungi chicken cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We pay $6 for organic and Non-GMO fed chicken eggs, and paid $7 for duck eggs.  

People might want to read this Weston A Price Foundation article about the myths surrounding cholesterol. Myths & Truths About Cholesterol - WAPF

Duck eggs are much more nutritious than chicken eggs, and they are very delightful to eat!
 
Deb Rebel
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
206
cat fish trees books urban food preservation solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The Weston article seems a bit content free and doesn't have much behind it if you follow the links. Or so to me when I checked it. (read the comments too)

Overall though, it was said in the early 70's that the 'old time' way to deal with cholesterol was to eat at least six eggs a day. It somehow would force levels down for a lot of people. I tried it in 2014 as an elderly friend swore by it (her husband had done so) but it didn't work for me.

Egg yolks contain the cholesterol, egg whites are very low.

Anyways, to further point out our regional egg prices, is we are very rural and agricultural so a lot keep some hens for their own use; and most others won't pay much for eggs. Go into a bigger metro and better prices can be commanded and gotten for a dozen quality eggs. Commercial eggs are a poor choice if you have truly free range and organic diet (maybe feed some flax to increase omega3) eggs available, but here... a lot have their own. Hence commercial are cheap and those with layers who have extra just can't get $6 a dozen. At $3 they tend to be eating or throwing them as nobody wants them. If you are trying to raise and sell, it won't work. If you run more hens and have extra, selling is mostly so they aren't being thrown. And I expect Large prices to climb close to $3 a dozen commercial in the few weeks before Easter, then plummet again to $1-1.50 a dozen. And private will probably remain about $2 except there won't be many to be had for that month before Easter.

 
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

The maximum price that I will pay for eggs is $4 per dozen. IF, they are free ranged with dark orange yolks. Those only come to me from local small scale farmers, not from the store, or from local mega-farms. Some people at my farmer's market ask $5, but don't sell many at that price. At the grocery store, bland eggs with pale yellow yolks are about $1.50 per dozen. I typically pay around $3/dozen for home-raised eggs with pale yolks.

I also eat a lot of "free" eggs, because they come to me by way of the local "gifts, barter, favors" economy.
 
Kim Goodwin
gardener
Posts: 220
Location: Morongo Valley
90
dog duck forest garden fish fungi chicken cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for pointing that out to me, Deb Rebel.  I have one of her "Nourishing Traditions", and a ton of references are  in that one.  In the book, the history of the demonizing of cholesterol is laid out, including how the early research findings were blatantly misinterpreted under industrial influence.

I think I should suggest they beef up the online short a bit.  Thanks for bringing that up.
 
master steward & author
Posts: 16281
Location: Left Coast Canada
3835
books chicken cooking fiber arts sheep writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the grocery stores here, a standard, commercial dozen of eggs is about $4.  An organic, local, free run, whatever words you want to put on it is up to $12 a dozen.

Farmgate, one would expect the price to vary throughout the year.  In the late spring, it can go as low as $3.50 a dozen.  In the deep winter or deep summer, it's usually around $6 a dozen.

I market my eggs as 'happy eggs from happy hens'.   Basically, I show them the hens and they decide which words they want to call it (free range, pampered, organic, I don't care what words they choose, it's meaningless anyway).  To me, I just want tasty eggs and happy hens - so I do what I need to.  
To my friends, I pick a middle price at $4 a dozen  This just about covers the cost.  Some people will choose to pay more because I have damn fine eggs and very limited quantities.  Other people grumble at the price, so they don't buy my eggs, then they grumble at the quality of other eggs from other farms.  There's no satisfying some people.

Given how the price of keeping the hens has increased this last year, I'm thinking of upping the price to $5 a dozen.
 
Deb Rebel
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
206
cat fish trees books urban food preservation solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kim Goodwin wrote:Thanks for pointing that out to me, Deb Rebel.  I have one of her "Nourishing Traditions", and a ton of references are  in that one.  In the book, the history of the demonizing of cholesterol is laid out, including how the early research findings were blatantly misinterpreted under industrial influence.

I think I should suggest they beef up the online short a bit.  Thanks for bringing that up.



If it wasn't something so near and dear to my heart (I survived cholesterol levels of over 1000, and no medication out there was going to help) I wouldn't have mentioned it.

There is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, and everyone's systems acts or reacts a little bit differently. I will look up that book you recommended, thank you, Kim Goodwin.

As it is I recently acquired 75 dozen medium eggs and am in the throes of how to preserve them, so the value of a dozen eggs around here has approached "free". (the mediums are someone closed down and are liquidating their very large pastured flock, I don't do meat (medically ordered diet) but spouse does so I am going over in a few days to help slaughter the older generation that were about to drop off anyways and get a few for the freezer in return)

Eggs are not the enemy, they're delicious, and it s nice if someone can get enough $ for good organic free range home raised eggs, enough to make a return. Around here everyone would have a few chickens if they could possibly get $12 a dozen...
 
Posts: 2
Location: Okotoks, Alberta
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In Alberta there are a few producers that charge under $5 a dozen but all the good farmers that have good feed and truly free range chickens are $5-6/dozen.  The cost is worth it and now that I raise, chickens, turkeys, and cattle and know what my costs are, I can't believe what corners must be cut to produce a $2-3/dozen egg.  I don't know how some posts above can charge that and stay in business.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Robin Curtis wrote:I don't know how some posts above can charge that and stay in business.



What's the cost of feed for eggs produced by truly free ranged hens?

What's the amortization cost of a 30 year old chicken coop?

At least at my place, chicken-scratch food is easy to come by.
 
Robin Curtis
Posts: 2
Location: Okotoks, Alberta
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Robin Curtis wrote:I don't know how some posts above can charge that and stay in business.



What's the cost of feed for eggs produced by truly free ranged hens?

What's the amortization cost of a 30 year old chicken coop?

At least at my place, chicken-scratch food is easy to come by.



I have a special feed made up for me by the pallet that is certified organic, with no soy or corn filler.  It costs me $26 a bag.  This compares to a non-organic cheap feed of $15/bag.  I also supplement with all the compost coming out of a few houses and one restaurant.  I also supplement DE and turmeric and irregularly other vits/nutrients.  Without the table scraps and free range feed supplementation I would be really close to not being profitable or at least minimally profitable.  Even at $2 profit per dozen eggs, that's only $20 profit on 10 dozen eggs.  That has to cover your labour, coop amortization, bird losses, the 6 months of feed eaten prior to egg production etc.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Most of the people that I source my eggs from are not raising eggs as a "business", they are raising them as a lifestyle. The cost structure seems much different between the two models of egg production.

 
pollinator
Posts: 521
Location: Missouri Ozarks
66
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems to me that a proper "permie" approach (and, really, a proper approach in any case) would be to determine how to RESPONSIBLY price one's eggs.

If you're raising hens as an income source, you have to make enough profit to keep at it.  Determine what you need to make to make it worth your while--and be sure to accurately include ALL associated costs--and set your price based on that.  If folks don't bite, don't lower your price (that price was based on what you NEEDED to make, remember?), drop the enterprise and do something else that will compensate you appropriately.  Otherwise, you're just delaying the inevitable; you'll eventually come to the conclusion that it's just not worth it and drop the enterprise.

If you're not raising hens as an income source, but just selling a few extra dozen from your home flock, remember that there are others who are actually doing this for a living; dramatically undercutting their (usually quite reasonable) prices is harmful to them, and all so you can offload a few dozen extra eggs.  

It is, of course, the responsibility of those doing this for income to effectively market their product, but it's incredibly frustrating to struggle against those few 'hobbyists' who just dump their excess at prices less than the cost of production (to say nothing of a reasonable return).  "You get what you pay for" is a useful refrain here, but it would be nice if it didn't have to be used.

Point being, whether you're selling to make a living or not, keep in mind ALL those who will be affected by your choices, not just whether you can make a few extra bucks or not.  

I'll get off my soapbox now.
 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
246
forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Robin, take a little time poking around the chicken forum here and you'll see that many people have found ways to reduce the cost of feeding the chickens without sacrificing nutrition. Some capture a waste streams in their home or community, some it's by strategic planting, some people are fortunate in a climate and location where free ranging provides nearly all the food, there are even people who go to the effort of raising insects specifically for chicken feed. Everyone has varying levels of physical resources, time and energy but maybe some of their techniques could be helpful in your situation.

That said, I took a moment to see if you were anywhere in my region because it sounds like you're producing some prime eggs with the diet you're using. Definitely something worth a premium price.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wes: My farmer's market contains an "anti-dumping" rule. In essence the rule is a price-fixing strategy to make sure the the mega-farmer's can charge as much as they want for vegetables, and everyone else has to match their prices. To the best of my knowledge, the rule has never been enforced and it can't be enforced... But the big businesses that occupy seats on the market's governing board still feel inclined to throw their weight around. A mega-farmer at my market is doing all kinds of things that dramatically raise his expenses: air-conditioned greenhouses, heating greenhouses to tropical temperatures, spraying toxins, fertilizing, weeding, fancy vehicles, etc, When I plant corn, I put the seed in the ground, then ignore it until harvest 75 days later. I can harvest a truckload of corn in an hour, so my labor on a truckload of corn is around two hours. Takes longer to sell it, than to grow it. Therefore, I have no hesitation at all asking prices that are much lower than his. It's his choice to live a high-expenses lifestyle. It's my choice to garden inexpensively, and to use food as a way to nurture my community rather than to take advantage of their need to eat. Any vegetable that comes from my farm is safer and cleaner than what he can bring to market. At least in my egg market, the "business" eggs are the lowest quality that I see: Pale yolks, runny whites, bland taste. The highest quality eggs that I discover generally come to me as gifts from people that are not interested in profit nor return-on-investment.

Another example: My community is under religious edict to grow gardens. Most members of the community are compliant with the edict, so there is a proliferation of gardens in my community. The gardens produce a tremendous amount of food. The excess food is gifted widely through the community. That includes milk, meat, eggs, fish, cheese, preserves, pickles, ferments, wine, vegetables, seeds, tobacco, etc, etc, etc. I'm an integral part of that food gifting network. Every day I eat something that came to me without "business" being involved at all. I don't feel the slightest bit of guilt that our food production and sharing network might be harming a "business". If an egg producer can't provide inexpensive, wholesome eggs, then maybe they should find a different way to try to make money.



 
Wes Hunter
pollinator
Posts: 521
Location: Missouri Ozarks
66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Wes: My farmer's market contains an "anti-dumping" rule. In essence the rule is a price-fixing strategy to make sure the the mega-farmer's can charge as much as they want for vegetables, and everyone else has to match their prices. To the best of my knowledge, the rule has never been enforced and it can't be enforced... But the big businesses that occupy seats on the market's governing board still feel inclined to throw their weight around. A mega-farmer at my market is doing all kinds of things that dramatically raise his expenses: air-conditioned greenhouses, heating greenhouses to tropical temperatures, spraying toxins, fertilizing, weeding, fancy vehicles, etc, When I plant corn, I put the seed in the ground, then ignore it until harvest 75 days later. I can harvest a truckload of corn in an hour, so my labor on a truckload of corn is around two hours. Takes longer to sell it, than to grow it. Therefore, I have no hesitation at all asking prices that are much lower than his. It's his choice to live a high-expenses lifestyle. It's my choice to garden inexpensively, and to use food as a way to nurture my community rather than to take advantage of their need to eat. Any vegetable that comes from my farm is safer and cleaner than what he can bring to market. At least in my egg market, the "business" eggs are the lowest quality that I see: Pale yolks, runny whites, bland taste. The highest quality eggs that I discover generally come to me from people that are not interested in profit nor return-on-investment.

Another example: My community is under religious edict to grow gardens. Most members of the community are compliant with the edict, so there is a proliferation of gardens in my community. The gardens produce a tremendous amount of food. The excess food is gifted widely through the community. That includes milk, meat, eggs, fish, cheese, preserves, pickles, ferments, wine, vegetables, seeds, tobacco, etc, etc, etc. I'm an integral part of that food gifting network. Every day I eat something that came to me without "business" being involved at all. I don't feel the slightest bit of guilt that our food production and sharing network might be harming a "business". If an egg producer can't provide inexpensive, wholesome eggs, then maybe they should find a different way to try to make money.



Doubtless it's a complex issue.  With your corn example, you are (presumably) getting a fair return on your time and effort, even selling at a lower price than your 'competitors.'  There is, of course, nothing wrong with that.  Your prices accurately reflect your costs, as they should.

With many products--eggs being a great example--the standard fare supermarket options are unreasonably cheap.  The prices don't accurately reflect what it costs to get a real egg to market.  (Maybe that's the issue--they aren't real eggs.)  There's a lot wrapped up in that, but I think that's a fair summation.  And because many folks thus have an expectation that eggs are necessarily cheap, many producers start playing the "what will people likely pay for mine?" game, which is ultimately unsustainable.  They set their prices based on what they think the market will accept, paying little mind to associated costs and reasonable return, then ultimately throw in the towel because they're getting too little return for too much effort.  Happens all the time.

It's all relative, of course.  There is no right amount to charge for a dozen eggs, or a pound of butter, or a quart of green beans.  I'm only suggesting that folks who do decide to sell something do so responsibly.

As a country (world?) we have this strange notion that food should be cheap.  Industrial ag (and associated government involvement, and economics-as-usual, and general human silliness, and on and on) has done that to us.  Food should be reasonably priced, which often means it should cost more than the bargain bin junk at the supermarket.  (That, and/or other costs of living should be lower...)  But of course, food probably ought not be more expensive because the farmer needs to make payments on his fancy new pickup or the acre-eating combine or the latest greatest fertilizer or weed killer.  There is a balance to be struck, to be sure.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When thinking about things like this, the externalities spin my thoughts... For example, a high quality free-range egg is akin to medicine due to it's health promoting nutrients. How do I calculate the reduced risk of disease and thus reduced medical expenses that accrue by eating properly raised eggs? How does one enter that into a profit/loss spreadsheet?

At my farm, I stopped comparing prices with the grocery store, because I figure that what I am selling is not the same product at all. That is especially evident in fruits, and in eggs. The problem I see often times with eggs, is that people are selling a product that is essentially the same as a grocery store egg, but wanting prices for them that I would only be willing to pay for a different product: Eggs grown free-ranged in an abundantly producing food forest.
 
Wes Hunter
pollinator
Posts: 521
Location: Missouri Ozarks
66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Setting prices is my least favorite part of farming, in large part for the reasons you mentioned.  What is the true value of the food we produce?  What is a reasonable return on my time?  If I'm getting paid for my time, should I try to be as efficient as possible, or do I work at a more enjoyable pace?  Should I charge more, or am I content with the advantages of living at or below the "poverty line"?  

I see it often: a new farmer comes on the scene, offers a staple like eggs, undercharges for it, then throws in the towel and says "There's no money in eggs (or whatever)," then disappears from view.  Then their customers disperse, buying from other farmers (who may then run short of eggs for their regular customers), possibly balking at the price, until a new farmer sees that demand is high, then undercharges (likely to attract new customers) and the cycle repeats.

Folks who charge premium prices for standard products, that's another issue entirely.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

One way that has worked for me in deciding what products to grow, and what prices to ask, is to say to myself, "What hourly rate do I want to pay myself for picking green beans?" Then time myself picking beans, and double the price, figuring that planting, weeding, and irrigating takes about the same time as picking. It's fortunate, and I suppose expected that crops that are fiddly to pick bring the highest prices at market. Many of the crops that I grow require very little labor to grow or to harvest. They end up being the staples in my garden. When I finally get chickens, those crops will be the mainstays of the chicken food.

I often choose to skip picking the fiddly crops. Take raspberries as an example. There are around 200 berries in a pint basket. Each one needs to be picked individually. So I get 1/2 pound of really fine food for my effort, and it will sell for $5 at market. Or, I can pick one winter squash,  and sell it for $2 to $6. I might get 3 to 15 pounds of decent food by picking one squash fruit.  I can pick maybe 20 squash in the time it takes me to pick a basket of raspberries.  $5 for 8 ounces of raspberries, or $100 for 200 pounds of squash. When it comes down to making a choice between picking a few raspberries, or a truckload of squash, I choose to pick the squash every time.

For my own use, and that of my close collaborators, I'll pick raspberries all day long for free: But not for market.
 
Deb Rebel
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
206
cat fish trees books urban food preservation solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think Joseph has it here. What are you willing to do for the return? And it can be valued differently.

As for the eggs; as a child on farm we raised everything, grew a large garden, and kept/raised animals for food. In that sort of 'whole farm' model, you had a food stream that helped feed everything fairly economically (grain screenings became chicken feed, etc; several things ate table scraps, nothing went to waste) and fairly healthily. The butcher steer was pastured and ate well, in the fall it came in for a few weeks to be finished off with some grain. The pigs same thing, they had pasture, were given silage grown and made on the farm, and otherwise lived a fairly natural life before going in the freezer or crock or smoker. Chickens freeranged, and got chased into their coop at night in the caged and wire roof inner yard for protection. The garden was worked in daily from planting to cleanoff. A big bed of strawberries and a thicket of raspberries produced. Kids were your greatest resource as they could often be made to go pick those fiddly crops and not eat them all... and did some of the lighter chores as well.

In that sort of a full rounded farm, your food was healthier, fresher, tasted better, and during season was often picked then brought in and went to the pot. The eggs, were a nice dark yolk and flavorful, snitched that morning from the old brooders at peril to your kid life with an old piece of lath to defend yourself from the old hen or worse, the rooster. Those were stealth pecking machines that often snuck up on you.

In this sort of economy you were either cityfolk (lived in town) and bought your eggs from the store, or knew a farmwife who passed you some eggs occasionally if they had extra for a bit more than the store bought.

Now more people live in cities than do NOT on Earth. We have passed from a rural agricultural life to an urban one. In that setting, how do you get what you need for your eggs?. It is somewhat what your market will bear. Here, we are one of those pockets that the lifestyle is still geared towards rural agricultural. A lot keep their own hens. Unless you're growing your own flax or know someone that is, and other related things (I mention flax as that is one thing to add to a hen diet to boost the omega3 in the eggs), hen feed isn't cheap unless you're on a 'whole farm' model. And you will still have to buy some scratch (oyster shell) to keep the shell quality up. So here, egg prices are depressed as nobody around here will pay $5-6 a dozen for premium eggs. Go a few hours from here (ignoring the fact it's over a state line for any large urban within 2-5 hours) and those eggs can command those prices. So it's knowing your local market on if you want to make a profit for going through with producing those eggs. Some that produce eggs here are doing trade with them, so in that case the value is what do they get that the producer wants, and is it worth producing eggs to get the trade?

Going for profit is a tricky business.

As Joseph pointed out with farmer market and that I did elsewhere... I can grow lovely totally organic tomatoes and take them to the farmers market. Which here (before we were shut down because the state has draconian cottage industry laws and some people dared sell home kitchen made jelly and salsa) could mean there's eight people selling tomatoes, similar in appearance and way they were raised... I'm not going to get $3 a pound (over store cost for hothouse, which go for $2-2.50) when the other seven have an abundance of them too and are willing to sell them for 50c a pound.

The person who is unloading 2-3 dozen extra eggs a week is not a major player in what eggs cost, and shouldn't be worried about too much as whatever they are charging, they can't really supply more than 1-2 customers. And that may not be steady.
The person producing ten dozen a week for sale, needs to be getting enough return on that many hens (a dozen hens during summer is about 10 eggs a day) to sustain the keeping of them, the care of them, and sending the production to market. By the same token, as they build their market they have to keep supply up too.

Do you have the potential customer base? The bigger your urban or the more densely populated your area (we are VERY sparse here, mostly ranches) the more potential market you have. Doublecheck if your government is going to rain on your parade (the bit where the government shut down a lot of C grade dairies, people running say 30 milk cows, and selling their milk to a cheese factory that would send a refrigerated tanker weekly to pick up the milk and cut the farmer a check every month... with some ridiculous expensive testing PER 5 gallon pail). Can you afford to feed the flock and provide what they need? If you're part of a 'whole farm' that is often a lot easier than having to buy all the feed other than bugs/greens and a good deal cheaper. Dealing with weather, predators... so. Make all the hurdles, you have your good eggs. What did it cost, and can you get that from your market? How do you get the eggs to the market?

Hence, just reporting what current prices are; that is why here they are so low. Commercial eggs, the cheap, fluctuate between about $1 and $3 a dozen, the month running into Easter they usually rise, and often do hang around $2 for Extra Large to Jumbo. Farm run eggs will be a mix of medium to extra large (most of the farm gals will keep the pullet eggs and for every really big egg put one medium in the carton, so you get an average weight around the upper end of 'large'). I've watched many try for $3-4 a dozen and nobody will buy them. Market right where I'm sitting just won't pay it, when someone else is charging $2 to 2.50. A few do get $2.50 I found out. And have waiting lists.

So, if you are in more densely settled, you have a better chance at a living price for your product (covering costs on your dozen much better quality eggs). As there is a larger potential market, and people more willing to pay more to get the proportionally rarer product. If the area was zoned for urban chickens (everyone of a certain sized lot could have a few) the demand would also drop for the quality eggs. All factors.  

So this simple question gets very complicated. I report here right now, eggs are rising a little and Store eggs are now about $1.25 a dozen; most private produced farm eggs if you can get them from someone, are going for $2 a dozen. And because everyone knows everyone it is almost an insult if you would offer someone $3 to snap up their eggs and displace their customer list of loyal customers who were there first and used to getting their supply from X. I know, I've been on someone's list. (and usually means too treating the cartons nice and giving them back to go around again)

If you are just producing a few extra dozen, try to charge to cover costs. Or use them as barter, which often generates more goodwill and gets you things you need directly. If you are going to sell them to make something, research carefully for what your market will bear and have a realistic look at your costs/overhead. And things will vary greatly. If I was in an unzoned (county) chunk near Dallas, I could get a lot more for my dozen than in the literal middle of nowhere (dust bowl) that I live now. I would also probably have higher living expenses too if I was near Dallas... so it's all relative. Maybe our local $2 a dozen would be $6-8 dozen equivalent in Dallas...  
 
Beauty is in the eye of the tiny ad.
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!