There’s something inherently rewarding about having your very own farm-fresh eggs every day. When you raise your chickens from the egg to chick to egg-laying hens themselves, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment in what you’ve helped cultivate. And as your egg production increases, you may be wondering if you should start an egg laying business. If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place.
At Freedom Ranger Hatchery, we believe in traditional, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly farming methods. As a result, we’re always happy to help local chicken hobbyists dip a toe into the egg business. While Freedom Ranger is a more extensive hatchery operation in Reinholds, Pa., we started just as simply as you—with a love for raising chickens. Here are a few things to crack into and consider before you get started.
What Are Your Local Agriculture Laws?
If you live in Central PA, it’s not uncommon to see roadside egg stands touting “Fresh Farm Eggs: $4/Dozen.” But what are the legalities behind these egg sales? Are there any guidelines to follow? The short answer is yes.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), there are three qualifiers to be considered a small flock egg producer. First, you have to have less than 3,000 egg-laying hens. Second, you have to sell your eggs within five days of when they were laid. And finally, you’ll need to sell the eggs (predominantly) within a 100-mile radius of where they were produced.
When your egg laying business meets these small flock requirements, the PDA also lists these regulations you have to follow as well:
For more information, refer to the PDA website. You can also find out more details from your local municipality for any ordinances you need to know about.
What Is Your Target Egg Laying Business Market?
Depending on the scale or size of your new egg laying business, you’re going to have different targeted markets. For example, raising chickens as a hobby versus having a flock of hundreds or a few thousand chickens will alter who you’re selling to.
As a hobbyist, you may only sell a few dozen eggs a day to your neighbors, family, or at a local farmer’s stand. On the other hand, expanding your egg laying business to something slightly more profitable will result in a broader market.
Another factor in better understanding your market is knowing what type of eggs are most popular in your area. In the last few years, organic food trends have been on the rise. According to The World of Organic Agriculture – Statistics and Emerging Trends of 2019, organic food sales in the United States reached a record of 49.4 billion dollars in 2017, which is “up 6.4 percent from the previous year.” So, having fresh, organic eggs for sale already puts you ahead of the curve in the egg business.
As we’ve already mentioned, we at Freedom Ranger Hatchery are firm believers in natural, free-range chickens. Chickens should be able to do what comes naturally to them instead of being cooped up 24/7. If you’re itching to learn more about our free-range chickens, read more on our website about how we got started.
What Are Your Production Goals?
When you’re looking to grow your egg laying business, the best place to start is knowing how much you plan on selling. By now, you probably know approximately how many eggs your hens lay a day. On average, a single chicken will produce one to two eggs per day, but will sometimes go a day without laying any. So let’s do some simple math.
Say you have a small roadside egg stand and you want to make a little extra cash to help cover the cost of feed. To simplify the math, we’ll say you have 12 or 15 hens. If all of your hens produce at least one egg a day, you’re looking at having a dozen eggs every day. That’s a total of about five dozen eggs (or ten half dozens) a week to sell. Of course, there will always be days without any eggs or some that get damaged, so you’ll want to account for those potential losses.
Obviously, if you want to make a bit more money, you’ll have to figure out the logistics of having a more significant egg laying business.
What Chicken Breeds Will You Use?
The success of your egg laying business comes down to one thing: your chickens! You want to have the happiest and healthiest birds possible to maximize your egg production and (eventually) make a profit.
To start, you’re going to need healthy chicks, but what exactly are the best chicken breeds for your egg business? Here are a few questions you can think about before you put all of your proverbial eggs in one basket.
What Chicken Breed Can Best Meet Your Production Needs?
Having just any old free-range chicken won’t always do for your egg laying business. Some breeds—like our Freedom Ranger chickens—are better suited for meat production than for eggs. You’ll want to choose high-quality breeds that are egg-layers and have higher egg production rates. Here are a few examples:
- Novogen Brown Egg Layer: A prolific egg layer, this breed yields approximately 395 eggs in 72 weeks. They’re also easy to manage and have a calm disposition.
- Easter Eggers: If you can’t tell from their name, the Easter Egger chickens from Freedom Ranger are great at laying eggs. They bring in approximately 280 eggs a year and are great for anyone just starting with chickens. Their eggs also come in a variety of colors!
- Blue Plymouth Rock Chickens: These birds will produce about 300 large to extra-large brown eggs a year. They do best in free-range environments and have a very docile and curious personality. Egg-laying hens also keep their production up in colder climates with proper care.
- Rustic Rambler: Another hearty egg layer, these chickens will bring your egg laying business about 260 to 280 eggs in a year. Their brown eggs and the amount of appetite these birds have make them quite profitable with their quiet demeanor.
How Will You Raise Your Chickens and Maintain Your Flock?
Once you know what breed of chickens you’ve decided on for your flock, you’ll need to make sure their living situation is up to standard. We only provide the best chicks here at Freedom Ranger, so you’ll want to do your new birds justice by giving them proper feed, coops, and health check-ups.
There are many types of chicken feed out there, which can easily be overwhelming to choose between for those just starting in their egg laying business. Typically, you’ll want layer feed for your egg-laying hens. This, plus a healthy mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, will enhance your egg quality and egg production. You can read more about feed types here on our blog.
Keeping Your Birds Healthy
Speaking of healthy, what you feed your chickens is not the only way to keep your birds feeling their best. Chickens can contract a variety of diseases, but most of the time, you can prevent and treat them. Some conditions, like wry neck or Marek’s Disease, are a bit scarier than others but are also mostly treatable.
Most of the time, diseases can be prevented by having your chicks properly vaccinated. We have several posts on our blog that go over some of the most common chicken diseases you see in flocks, and how you can prevent them.
Compiling All of This into an Egg Laying Business Plan
Now that we’ve fully cracked into some of the nitty-gritty details of the egg laying business, are you ready to get started? If so, know that you should sit down and write out a serious business plan for yourself. This egg laying business plan should include costs, how you want to make a profit, selling prices, and potentially how to continue to grow your business.
If you’re ready to dive in, reach out to Freedom Ranger to place your first order of hens. We deliver all across the United States and are proud to be able to serve your needs. From our family to yours, happy laying!