This week’s question comes from Nola and she asked me: “I keep hens for eggs. I got them for fun and to have natural, healthy eggs. Now that I have them, I am overwhelmed with the amount of people that would like to buy eggs from me. It seems there’s a real market for them in my area. My concern comes from a legal standpoint. Of course I’m not worried about selling to close friends or family, but what do I need to concern myself with when selling to people outside of that circle? Do I need to be a business? Do I need to submit myself to some egg authority?”
Great question Nola! Not many backyard chicken enthusiast start out planning to sell eggs. I love eggs but I don’t eat them every day, so when our newest flock members start to lay, we could have a potential surplus to deal with! But what do you do when you have more then you can eat and you have given/sold as many as you can to friends and family!?!?
The answer will very depending on what state you live in. For you Nola, in the state of Illinois, if you sell your eggs from your home to household consumers for their own use, you don’t need to be a business, have an egg license or grade your eggs!! Go girl! Sell them eggs! For the whole details on trafficking eggs in Illinois visit the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture’s egg site. Haa! Nola is an egg trafficker…. it all sounds so naughty doesn’t it!
But what about everyone who doesn’t live in Illinois!?!?! You will have to check your state rules as each state sets their own. For my state, Michigan, I simply googled the Michigan Department of Agriculture, typed in selling eggs in their search box and with a little digging came up with the following:
7. Does an egg producer selling shell eggs at the farmers market need to keep those eggs refrigerated? Is the producer permitted to re-use labeled egg cartons bearing another distributor’s name and address on the carton?
There are no specific requirements for egg producers selling directly to a consumer or a first receiver. Maintaining eggs at 45ºF for safety, cleaning eggs and packing eggs in clean, properly labeled containers is recommended.
So as you can see in the two states I have looked into, it seems very easy to sell your surplus eggs! So why not check your state by googling you department of agriculture to find your states specifics. If you do want to start sell your eggs here are some things to keep in mind…….
- Wash your eggs! No one like to get a dirty egg. Keep in mind though, eggs are laid with a protective coating on them. When you wash them, you wash the coating off too. Eggs have lots of little pours and once the coating is washed off, “things” can penetrate the shell. So don’t wash your eggs till right before you plan to sell them.
- Once your eggs are washed they should be stored at around 45 degrees Fahrenheit till they are sold to the consumer.
- Use clean cartons when packaging your eggs. Depending on your state you may have to use new cartons but if not, recycle cartons if you can. It’s good for the environment and your profit margin.
- Make your cartons cute! You can easily print your own labels with your name, phone number (so they can order more) and any cute personal info, like the name of the chicken who laid the eggs! People love that kind of stuff. Depending on your state rules, dates and other information may have to be included in your labels.
- Be fair in your price, both to your customer and yourself. Check out what the eggs are going for at your local farmer’s marker and price accordingly to what the local market will pay. And don’t short change yourself! If the average price at the farmer’s market seems a little high to you, think about the fact that that is what they are selling them for and people are buying them. You could go a little lower for personal customers but don’t cheat yourself either.