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 the all those eggs?
Now that we're getting more than a dozen eggs EVERY DAY I finally broke down and stopped hoarded 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.
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)~
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. I love the retro 3x4 cardboard cartons and clear plastic break-apart cartons from Eggcartons.com.
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 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).
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 or purchase one here:
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.
But at least I have stopped being an 'egg hoarder'. I guess admitting it was the first step...