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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Selling Your Eggs


So now that the three chickens you originally raised 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, egg color or some of those adorable chicks from the feed store last spring...what do you do with all those eggs?



Now that we're getting more than a dozen eggs EVERY DAY I finally broke down and stopped hoarding all our beautiful eggs and started giving some away to friends, family, neighbors, our UPS man, mail carrier, the woman at the dry cleaners and the garden center manager.


My husband has also sold a few dozen to his co-workers and I was thinking of setting up a booth and selling some at the local farmers market this spring. But what are the regulations for selling eggs from backyard chickens ?  I had no idea. I decided I needed to find out before I sold any more or got involved with the farmer's market.
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Here's what I found out:

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 process)

You will also 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.

For example, Virginia's 'Egg Law' applies 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, held at 45 degrees or lower and cartons must include a label with the seller's name and address as well as the word "Ungraded" and 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. 
~Interestingly enough the term “fresh eggs” may NOT be used on ungraded cartons of eggs (and may only be used if graded eggs meet the requirements of Grade A quality or better)~

You also should check with your municipality about whether or not you need any sort of business license or permit to sell eggs.
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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.  The Egg Carton Store  carries a nice selection of different colors, sizes and materials.  

~photos courtesy www.eggcartonstore.com~

And check out Local Hens, a free online resource where customers can enter their zip code to find local farms that sell eggs - so get yours registered !

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 hostess gift (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 so choose).

Strips of scrapbooking craft paper and a pretty card glued on to these cute break-apart cardboard cartons from www.theeggcartonstore.com make for pretty packaging.


You will want to put a sign out on your mailbox advertising that you have eggs.  One with a hanging 'chalkboard' makes it easy to advertise your price or tell customers when you have eggs for sale and when you don't.  

You can easily make one yourself.


I feel better knowing that the laws are, but I think I will still keep giving away most of our extra eggs to friends because they seem to enjoy them so much.

They make wonderful hostess gifts. Instead of a bottle of wine, next time arrange some fresh eggs in a pretty basket with a vintage cloth napkin. I keep a stash of baskets and napkins that I find very inexpensively at Goodwill and yard sales.

At least I have stopped being an 'egg hoarder'.  I guess admitting it was the first step...



~information compiled from several sources including the Virginia Extension Service, Virginia Department of Agriculture, Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis & Rob Ludlow and The Chicken Handbook by Vivian Head~
http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/fdsafety/pdf/foodlaws.pdf


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46 comments:

  1. The best part of that 3x4 egg carton is the fun farm scene on the cover :) I love those, have a whole mess of them, and the empties always get returned because no one else round here uses them.

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  2. I love them. And you're right, I get all mine returned also.

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  3. Thanks for the info! Our 5 yr old wants to try to sell some of his eggs along with the veggies we grow this summer at the farmers market. We hav never done it before but your article makes me a lot more willing to let him try! :)

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  4. I just purchased these cartons as well. On your recommendation Lisa. I love them and the looks I get when I hand them out. "Something old is new again" Love this blog as i have all of the others so far. Keep up the good work!!
    Nan

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  5. We are having the same experience. Our 2 girls don't keep us supplied for how much hubby and daughter eat. So we have 13 more chicks going - 3 more kinds!
    I was just going to start giving some to a friend who I knew bought from someone for $4/dozen - when I told her about it on FB a bunch of people chimed in with SIGN ME UP. So we are hoping for a bunch of girls!

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  6. I find it annoying how much the government butts in to the small homestead farm.
    Not saying I don't understand, but it's been my understanding that most every food recall is related to the big industry processing places.
    Not saying that there aren't some seedy types in the small farm industry, but they are few and far between, I think.

    Still, I will bookmark this because I enjoyed it, and it will remind me where you found your information and because I love all the ideas you came up with for giving them away!
    Hope you all have a wonderful day. :-)

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    1. I totally agree Linda. They need to worry more about the inhumane and unsanitary conditions that exist at the large commercial 'farms' and leave all of us to be able to sell our FRESH, nutritious eggs.

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  7. Thank you Lisa for posting this! I will copy it and give it to my sister as well (she doesn't have internet). This is something we should have all checked into on our own. Thank you for doing it for us, and prompting us to check our local laws! I agree that gov't is too involved. Most people are like me. I won't sell anything I wouldn't feed to my own family! I just hope to cover the feed I put into them. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. We are not wealthy by any means, are just scraping by like so many. But I have hard working friends who have lost jobs that are in danger of losing homes, and I supply them with as many free eggs as they want. I would LOVE to have 100 chickens and go to our local food pantry on food day and hand out dozens of eggs! I feel very fortunate to be able to provide food to my own family and to help others as well. Thank you Lisa for all the great info you post! It helps me to keep my chickens healthy and happy and to help me provide fresh safe eggs to my family and friends. God Bless you!

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  8. apparently in NYS the eggs have to be graded - I started looking into things this morning after reading this!

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  9. UNwashed?! So how do you clean them to sell if they're a little dirty? Hmm...Sand paper?

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  10. Well, I use the rough side of a dry sponge to gently scrub off a bit of dried mud if necessary. If nesting boxes are kept clean and eggs are collected regularly, the eggs shouldn't be dirty and any dirty ones should be washed immediately, and then used, not sold at all I guess.

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  11. how do you clean them to sell if they're a little dirty

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    1. Any eggs that are dirty I just gently scrub with the rough scratchy side of a dry sponge. Really dirty ones, I wouldn't sell. I would wash those immediately in warm water and cook them.

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  17. Thanks for the tips! I've been looking into our state's requirements and in Washington eggs must be washed in warm water only. And I was surprised to find out I can have as many as 2,999 before I need a license! Woohoo! My husband, on the other hand, was not so thrilled to find that out. LOL I'm going to register with that website. :)

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  18. can you relabel a previously used store egg cartons or do you have to have to buy and label your own?

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    1. You'll need to check your state's regulations. Some states require brand new cartons.

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    2. Um.. Ok. Would you happen to know the regulations on that for Virginia?

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    3. I believe in Virginia (which is where I live) you can't reuse cartons unless the person you are selling to provides you the carton. I did a quick search but I can't find the law. I would call your local extension service and ask so you know for sure.

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  20. When you wash the eggs what do you wash them with, if the rough side of a sponge is not enough(info gained from your answer to another person's question)? Is there a special solution or are you supposed to use water? And if water, hot or cold? Or does it really matter? Again I am in Virginia if it makes a difference due to laws.

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    1. What I mean by solution(in comment above)is a solvent mixed in a solute such as baking soda mixed in water. Is there a special cleaning agent/mixture is what I meant to say. :) Truly sorry.

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    2. Oh sorry! You can use baking and soda and water that's what I use on our duck eggs.

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    3. According to VA law tho to sell at a farmers market the eggs have to be UNwashed, which is why I recommend the dry sponge. For selling purposes, any dirty eggs I would not sell, I would rinse those in warm water (cold water can pull bacteria INTO the egg) and then use yourself for personal use right away.

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    4. Oooo! Did not know that about the cold water. Thank-you again for your help. You have been very patient with my questions. :)

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  21. Ok. Sorry, I have another question. Does the profit you get from selling eggs just equal your feed expenses or do you make a profit?

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    1. First "profit" I wrote should be "money". Sorry!

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    2. Well that depends on how many eggs you sell and how much you charge. I think if you manage to make enough money to pay for your feed you're probably doing pretty well!

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    3. My family already has chickens and as a high-school-er I always seem to be short on money. I am trying to see if I could make money for myself by having my own little flock separate from my fam's. We let them roam free and feed them table scraps in addition to feed.

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    4. I have some teachers and several families from our church and school that would buy eggs from us and have even asked if we would sell them some so selling them wouldn't be a problem. All the chicken websites that sell chicks I have gone to only go to a minimum of 15 chicks a shipment. I am not sure if the rate of me needing to buy feed would be quicker than the time I could sell enough eggs to equal the feed expenses. I guess I need to talk to my parents and do the math base on our previous experiences. But we have more than 15 chickens at the moment so our numbers might be skewed to the faster rate. But we also get about a dozen eggs per day. Hmmmmm..... (Sorry. It helps me think if I write stuff out. Ignore me right now.)

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    5. That's okay, think away. You're very smart to think it all through. If you can free range and also feed table and garden scraps will you cut your feed bill quite a bit, so that will help. Also be sure to set your price high enough - for fresh eggs, $3/dozen seems to be the going rate.

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    6. Thanks for all your help the past couple days! I think I figured it out now! ....but if I have any more questions I will be sure to come to you. You have been very helpful and patient with my myriad of questions and overflow of my thoughts turned to words. :) _ _
      . .
      o

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    7. sorry. my "o" and periods got out of line. I was trying to make a smiley face. :)

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    8. You are welcome! I hope you figured it out! And yes please ask away. You can always email me at: fresheggsdaily@gmail.com if that's easier or ask questions on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FreshEggsDaily?fref=ts

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  22. I was just wondering where you found information about Virginia requiring UNwashed eggs. One of my readers had seen this article and was asking me about it. I looked all over the web and the only related results I found were your pages. I'd just like to tell her "here's your proof".

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    1. I actually called the VA Dept of Agriculture and Extension service for the info, but here's something on the unwashed eggs - at the bottom it clarifies its talking about unwashed eggs, although it doesn't specify at the top of the page:
      http://www.virginiafoodfreedom.org/Legalities.html

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  23. Hi!! Well I just tried to post a comment and it vanished, so trying again-- I am hoping that you can give me some insight on something I was recently told--we have a sign that says 'fresh eggs for sale", very similiar to the one in the post--we were told that it is illegal to advertise or label our eggs as 'fresh' bc only eggs graded by the USDA as A-AA are allowed to be called 'fresh'--now personally , I know my eggs are a lot more fresh than those, but I have searched high and low and can not find anything that says I can or cant?? I live in WV and my state guidelines say nothing about it..Any advice??

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    1. I have read that as well that you can NOT use the word 'fresh' - I believe its a USDA federal law not state.

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Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily
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