Making money from the homestead is possible and raising chickens for eggs can be a good stream of income. Learn how to raise chickens for eggs, what are the best chickens for eggs, how to find customers for your egg farm, and much more in this egg selling guide.
Updated by Rootsy, August 2020
By Guest Contributor Erica Nygaard
When I started homesteading, I did not decide to homestead because I wanted to make money. I homesteaded because I wanted to live a simpler life and provide for myself by producing my own food. After trying to unsuccessfully garden for a few years, I figured out what I was doing wrong. With the garden going strong, I wanted to continue on the homesteading journey.
To me, the next logical step was to get egg-laying chickens. Being a rookie chicken owner, I ordered fifteen brown egg laying chicks in a variety of breeds. They came in the mail, I picked them up as soon as the post office called, and we got them set up in their place. We lost about five of them within a week. I went to the local feed store and purchased six more chicks.
They grew and we eagerly awaited the day they would start earning their keep. Finally, after five months, they started producing eggs. At first, I didn’t think about selling chicken eggs except as a distant possibility. We were eating them as fast as they were producing them. Then we started getting 15-16 eggs a day. We had eggs stashed everywhere!
Find Your Sales Path
I started to ask my family and friends if they were interested in purchasing eggs. I knew I could sell eggs in Iowa. In Iowa, a producer can sell eggs directly to the consumer without a permit or license. If a producer sells to a grocery store or a food manufacturer, then a permit or license is needed. Different states have different rules, but most states have cottage laws that allow small producers to sell directly to the customer. .
Selling chicken eggs from a small homestead is more than likely not going to produce a profit. If you figure the costs of your inputs such as the cost of feed, labor for chores, and start-up costs, you could probably charge $7-8 a dozen for fresh farm eggs. If you are like me and free range your chickens, you might be able to charge more or less depending on your inputs.
However, that price will probably be a deterrent. Most people will not pay $7-8 a dozen for any kind of chicken eggs. Free range or not, that price is not reasonable for most people. Most homesteaders are looking to get rid of their extra eggs and prices need to be reasonable for that to happen.
In my area, a fair amount of people raise their own chickens for eggs which means I have competition for customers. I sell eggs for $2 a dozen. That price is more than the grocery store regular white or brown eggs, but less than the organic, cage-free, free-range eggs sold in the grocery store. In different areas of the country, you may be able to charge more per dozen because of your customer base and demand.
Establish a Customer Base
After deciding how much you want to sell your eggs for, establishing a customer base would be a good idea. You want to know who your customers are, when they will need eggs, and how many eggs they will purchase at one time. Having a customer base gives you a good idea of how many eggs you need to have on hand for them and provides you with consistent income.
You will have a few more decisions to make after establishing your prices and your customers. Some of your decisions will be:
- Will you refrigerate your eggs or not? We do just for food safety reasons, but that is not what all producers will do.
- Will you wash the eggs before selling them or not? We do not wash the eggs so the bloom will preserve the eggs longer. However, you can wash them before you sell them if your customers want them washed or if you feel better having them washed. We are upfront with our customers about not washing them before they buy them.
- Will you deliver the eggs, have people come to your home, or sell them at a farmers market? We deliver the eggs most of the time. The customers appreciate having them delivered to them. We also take them to work with us to sell to co-workers. You can also sell them at a farmers market if their rules allow for this.
- Will you buy new egg cartons or reuse egg cartons from the grocery store? We reuse egg cartons from the grocery store. I have family and friends who save them for me to reuse. The new cartons are nice, but you will have more input costs for selling eggs.
Profit from Selling Chicken Eggs on the Homestead
To be honest, selling chicken eggs from a small egg farm is probably not going to be a profitable venture. You will be able to offset the cost of the feed which is great. You can have younger children in charge of the chicken chores and have them sell the eggs to earn a little extra money.
There are things you can do to increase your profit margin, such as raise chickens that are good egg producers, raise some of your own feed, allow the chickens to free range, and use supplemental light during the winter.
10 Best Chickens for Eggs
There are so many fun chicken breeds and every chicken keeper has their favorite. But if you are trying to make money by selling chicken eggs or even starting a small egg farm, you’ll need to pick chicken breeds that are prolific egg layers. Here are 10 of the best chickens for eggs and about how many eggs they lay per year.
- White Leghorn – 280 eggs per year
- Rhode Island Red – 260 eggs per year
- Australorp – 250 eggs per year
- Red Sex Link – 250 to 300 eggs per year
- Ameraucana – 250 eggs per year
- Barred Plymouth Rock – 200 eggs per year
- Golden Laced Wyandottes – 200 eggs per year
- Speckled Sussex – 250 eggs per year
- Golden Comet – 250 to 300 eggs per year
- Marans – 200 per year
However, breed isn’t the only thing you need to consider when choosing the best chickens for eggs. Some chicken breeds do well in cold weather, like Rec Sex Link and Golden Comet, and others, like White Leghorn, will do better in warmer weather.
Also, be sure to consider temperament, especially if you have young children and are also going to have roosters. It might be worth it to choose a moderately productive breed that is very mild mannered, like Buff Orppington, if your child is going to be doing the bulk of the work with them.
Feeding Chickens to Get the Best Eggs
There’s no doubt about it, free range eggs are the most nutritious and delicious. However, without enough protein in their diet, even the most prolific egg layers will slow down. You can use a combination of raising your own worms and some of your own feed to cut down on the cost of feed. Of course, this increases your work but it might be worth it if you have helpers.
Replenishing Your Flock
In order to consistently have eggs to sell, you’ll need to replenish your flock each year or every other year. Hen’s lay the most eggs their first year of laying and that amount will decrease with each passing year. Large egg farmers will replenish their entire flock each year. That’s probably not what a small homestead wants to do. But you need to have a plan for replenishing the flock.
One way to easily replenish the flock is to have roosters and allow some of the hens to go broody. You can either collect the fertile eggs and hatch them in an incubator. Or if the hen is broody, let her sit on them and hatch them herself.
What To Do With Older Hens
When a hen is older (3+ years) her egg laying will become sparse. You’ll need to decide what to do with her. There’s really no right or wrong answer and it’s a deeply personal choice, but you need to have plan. If you have space, you can keep the older hens. Some of these older hens will go broody and make good mamas. Some help the flock with their pecking order and are valuable because of that.
You can see if a friend wants a few older hens that aren’t at their height of laying but still lay eggs fairly regularly.
Lastly, you can dispatch the hen – dispatch is a nice way of saying butcher. This is a hard reality of raising animals on a homestead. The meat from old hens is flavorful but can be tough, here’s how to cook an old hen or rooster.
Other Ways to Make Money on the Homestead
Selling chicken eggs is just one of many ways to make money from your property. It’s always a good idea to have multiple streams of income and every bit adds up. Here is a list of 53 ways to make money on the homestead to give you some ideas of what you can do.
Erica Nygaard lives in North Central Iowa on a rural acreage with her partner, Rob. They raise children, chickens, pets, and a garden and are always trying new ideas and things in order to make the homestead better and make the garden successful. She is the main writer and creator at Living Life in Rural Iowa where she talks about prepping, homesteading, sustainable living, and frugal living. When she is not doing all of that and working a full-time job, Erica likes to read, organize, play on the water, cook, and learn new things. Come visit her at www.livinglifeinruraliowa.com