Cheating the Egg Farmers
Someone made a request in the chicken group. It wasn’t going to end well:
“Good morning, I need an egg supplier. Someone who could sell them to me at least 20 dozen a week for $2 a dozen.” Thank you.
If you’ve ever had a chicken, you know how much work goes into getting a single egg. And, how much money. This was going to be a big, “Negative!”
There’s feed, which just went up a buck. Then, shavings to keep the coop neat.
There’s the initial cost of the setup—a nice coop, a run.
I put up the run, expanded the run, fixed the run, repaired it again after Dickens the hen got decapitated by a hawk. I fixed the waterer, bought a new waterer, added to the flock, and bought weird things like diatomaceous earth and medicines.
Then, there’s the value of the time. I clean the coop, repair all the dust-bath holes that are too close to the boundary, and come out at the first sign of snow to bang the weight off the run fence. I weed the garden and give the chickens their dandelion salads.
Keeping chickens is break-even on a good day, but most days, for me, it’s a financial loss.
Mostly, that’s because I don’t sell my eggs. I gift them to friends in the name of love and good karma. I get some pretty great things in return—appreciation, a ton of empty egg cartons, and once I got a plate of special brownies.
But, I still raise chickens, even at a loss, because they’re cool and there’s nothing like home-raised eggs. I can’t even put them in the same paragraph as “store bought eggs,” even though I just did.
If I sold eggs, I’d have to price them out. That’s a lot of homestead math. But, my back-of-the-envelope calculations say it’s probably somewhere close to $4-5 dozen to break even. The USDA wholesale price for free-range eggs is $4-7.
That’s why I knew this “twenty-dozen-for-two-dollars” woman was about to get henpecked. Several chicken people broke down the math, others just said, “No.” and one said, “I can supply you, but it’ll be $4/doz.”
The egg-seeker doubled down. “I thought it’d be cheaper because I’m ordering so many.”
Oh no…you didn’t!!!! That was the number one wrong thing to say.
Prices are a pretty touchy subject at the farmer’s market. Many take offense to people complaining about the prices of non-GMO, pasture raised, heirloom, unique, crafted, and hand-harvested specialty items while demanding the highest quality. Or worse, complaining while sporting a coffee that cost $10 bucks.
To the group’s credit, they were kind, but firm—an unusual blessing online these days. The “no” and chicken math education continued.
“Walmart has eggs for $1.99 a dozen,” someone said.
If you want healthy food with a provenance you can trust, go to a farmer. If not, get something affordable and mass produced. Or, grow or raise it yourself. Everyone in that thread was thinking that thought.
Then, someone asked, “I’m just wondering, why do you need so many eggs?”
“I make breakfast three times a week for my father’s low-income elderly housing complex,” the egg requester said. “I couldn’t during Covid, and I want to start up again.”
Take that, fair-priced farmer eggs!
And even though everyone was polite the whole time, we all left the conversation with a little bit of egg on our face. She wanted to make eggs for low-income seniors.
I wished that person was my neighbor. I wouldn’t sell her $2 eggs. She’d be included in my Circle of Eggs, for free.