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Selling Eggs from your Backyard Chickens

egg stand selling eggs in cartons

So now that the three chickens you originally started with just to provide your family with enough eggs to eat has turned into 25 laying hens because you just HAD to have one more breed, a new, exciting egg color or some of those adorable chicks from the feed store last spring.

...so what do you do with all those eggs?



wire basket of eggs with colored egg cartons

When we first started raising chickens, we started with just six hens. We could keep up back then. But a few years passed, and we were getting more than two dozen eggs EVERY DAY from our 36 chickens, and I finally broke down and stopped hoarding all our beautiful eggs.

I started giving eggs away to friends, family, neighbors, our UPS man, our mail carrier, the woman at the dry cleaners and the garden center manager. My husband was still in the Navy so he gave a few dozen to his co-workers.

But we still had more eggs than we knew what to do with, so I was thinking of putting a stand at the end of our driveway or setting up a booth and selling some at the local farmers market.

But what were the regulations for selling eggs from your backyard chickens ? I had no idea. So I realized that I needed to find out before went any further. Since we were living in Virginia at that time, I started researching the regulations relating to selling eggs in Virginia.

wooden roadside egg stand

Selling Eggs From your Backyard Chickens

Virginia Egg Laws


Here's what I found out about selling eggs in the state of Virginia:

You do not need to register with any state or federal agency, pasteurize your eggs or use any special wash on the eggs you sell as long as:

  • you sell  only your own eggs from your chickens
  • you sell your eggs only at your house or farm, through home delivery or at a farmer's market
  • you don't grade (AA, A or B etc) or sell your eggs by size
  • the eggs are fresh and UNwashed
  • you don't label your eggs as "organic" (you can't use the term organic unless you have been certified under the National Organic Program' standards, which is a rigorous - and expensive - process)

Virginia's  official "Egg Laws" apply only to those selling more than 150 dozen eggs a week: all others are exempt from any further regulation.  

However, if you sell eggs at a farmer's market (regardless of how many or few sold), then all eggs must be:

  • clean 
  • stored at a temperature of 45 degrees or lower
  • cartons must include a label with the seller's name and address 
  • Eggs must be graded and labeled as such or marked "Ungraded" 
  • the term "fresh" can not be used on ungraded cartons of eggs and then only used if the eggs are Grade A or better
  • cartons must be marked with the following: Safe Handling Instructions To prevent illness from bacteria:  keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. 
Source: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/fdsafety/pdf/foodlaws.pdf



eggs and egg carton

Maine Egg Laws


Several years later, we moved to Maine where the laws are different.

In Maine, at the time of this writing, anyone with fewer than 3,000 hens doesn't need a permit or license to sell eggs, but there are some rules everyone must follow regardless:
  • the size and grade of the eggs must be labeled on the egg carton
  • the name, address and zip code of the packer must also be on the carton (an address sticker or stamp will suffice)
  • eggs in the carton must match what is on the carton as labeled (grade, size and color)
  • cartons must also be labeled to state that refrigeration is required 
  • eggs must be stored and transported at 45 degrees F or less
  • when reusing cartons, the USDA Shield must be obliterated from the carton
  • cartons must be clean and odor free.  (Some grocery chains do not want their cartons to be reused. Generic cartons can be purchased from a local farm store or online)

You will need to check with your own state department of agriculture to be sure you are complying with the local health and sanitation requirements.  You can start with your local extension service or google "Egg Laws" for your state.  They vary state to state.

Source: https://umaine.edu/livestock/poultry/selling-eggs-in-maine/



Check out some other state egg laws:

California Egg Laws
Florida Egg Laws
Ohio Egg Laws
Pennsylvania Egg Laws
Texas Egg Laws

It's definitely worth doing a little bit of research first to be sure you won't be in violation in your state.


Business Insurance

You also should check with your municipality about whether or not you need any sort of business license or permit to sell eggs, and you might want to also consider getting product liability insurance.


Egg Cartons


Once you have made sure you know the rules and are complying with them, you will need cartons in which to package your eggs for sale. Purchasing new cartons is a good idea because many states prohibit the sale of eggs in used cartons.

You can also personalize brand new, blank cartons with a stamp or label with your farm name, address, phone number etc.

Some states do require that your name and address be on the carton, although if you are selling to friends or door-to-door you aren't required to attach any kind of card or print anything on the carton or label unless you choose to do so.

In that case, a business card with your name or your farm name and phone number for customers to call to re-order attached with a colorful ribbon or piece of twine makes for a nice presentation.

Strips of scrap booking craft paper and a pretty card glued onto these cute break-apart cardboard cartons make simple pretty packaging.


Advertising

If you are going to be selling your eggs at the end of your driveway, you will want to put a sign out on your mailbox advertising that you have eggs and likely you'll need to construct a stand to sell your eggs.

A mailbox sign with a hanging "chalkboard" makes it easy to advertise your current price or tell customers when you have eggs for sale and when you don't. You can easily make one yourself.

Putting up flyers at the local feed store can also help customers find you, as can announcements in local online groups and forums.

Of course, word of mouth is always the best way to build a customer base! Try giving some eggs away to your neighbors as an introductory offer of sorts - and ask them to tell their friends that you have fresh eggs for sale.



Taxes/Record Keeping

Egg money is income just like any other type of earned income and you'll owe taxes on it. So be sure to keep good records of sales, and also records of all your expenses relating to selling your eggs.

It's best to talk with an accountant about your specific situation, but some common expenses that can be deducted from your egg income might include:
  • cost of egg cartons, labels, stamps etc
  • gas and/or mileage to farmers market or to make deliveries
  • cost of chicken feed
  • cost of chicks/chickens
  • advertising
  • table, chairs, cooler, signs or other things involved in setting up a booth at a market

wire basket full of brown and white eggs

Keep Giving Those Eggs Away! 

Even if you're not interested in selling your eggs, remember that they do make wonderful hostess gifts. Instead of a bottle of wine, next time you're invited to a friend's house for dinner, arrange some fresh eggs in a pretty basket with a vintage cloth napkin or tea towel.

I keep a stash of baskets and napkins that I find very inexpensively at Goodwill, on Ebay and at yard sales for this very reason! Everyone loves being gifted a pretty basket of eggs.

eggstand by the side of the road



So in the end, I decided not to sell our eggs but least I have stopped being an 'egg hoarder'. I guess admitting it was the first step...

(The plans to build the cute wooden roadside egg stand featured in this post appear in my book DIY Chicken Keeping available from Amazon.com and wherever books are sold.)





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