How to Start an Egg Farm

egg farm

The Egg Farm sector in the United States had a market size by revenue of $10.1 bn this year alone. Egg production as an industry is also expected to increase by 1.4% in 2023.

But egg farmers are facing a few headwinds. The industry’s market size declined 3.2% on average between 2018 and 2023. Wondering how to start a farm of your own? Read this.

A Simple Guide to Starting Egg Farming

Here are a few steps for new farmers.

Check What Permits May be Needed to Raise Poultry in Your Area

Here’s a link for keeping hens in your yard. Permits for businesses depend on where you grow this food. For example, A Washington State Egg Handler/Dealer License is needed.

Learn Everything You Can About Egg Farming

There’s some good information if you’re looking at a small-scale operation right here. For example, one of the quickest ways to get started is to have a flock of 50 to 100 hands in an existing facility.

Choose which Poultry Breed to Keep

Deciding on the breed of chicken to keep is more nuanced than one might initially think. Chickens serve different purposes—some are excellent for meat production, some are prized for their aesthetic appeal, and others are prolific egg layers.

Regional climate plays an important role in this decision; certain breeds, for example, are less tolerant of high temperatures. Additionally, various chicken breeds produce eggs of different sizes and colors.

For those prioritizing egg production, popular breeds like Rhode Island Red and Leghorn are often the go-to choices because of their high yield.

Obtain or Build Suitable Housing for Baby Chicks and Egg Laying Hens

Purchasing day-old chicks is often the safest bet for newcomers as they come with fewer health risks compared to older birds. The housing for your hens should be dry, well-ventilated, and adequately protected from predators.

It’s advisable to keep hens and chicks in separate quarters to minimize the risk of disease spread. Adding new chickens to your existing flock is generally safe when the newcomers are at least eight weeks old.

One often overlooked point is that baby chicks should be kept on burlap or similar material, as they can confuse loose bedding with food, leading to digestive issues.

Consider the Best Farming Practices for Hen Health and Animal Welfare

While caged systems might seem efficient, studies show that hens fare better when they can roam freely. Caged hens often exhibit signs of stress and their health can deteriorate due to lack of movement.

They do not have the space to stretch or spread their wings, which are natural behaviors. On the flip side, free-range and cage-free systems allow hens a degree of natural behavior, improving not just their quality of life but often the quality of the eggs they produce.

Therefore, it’s not just an ethical consideration but also a business one to allow your hens some freedom.

Developing a Sustainable Farming Model

Sustainability is key in modern farming practices. Developing a sustainable egg farming model involves implementing environmentally friendly practices, such as using renewable energy sources, practicing responsible waste management, and adopting sustainable feed options.

This not only reduces the environmental impact but also appeals to eco-conscious consumers.

Begin Egg Production

Consider cage-free housing when you ramp up egg production.

  • Hens need a good diet. Their food needs protein and fat to produce good eggs. Their feathers will benefit.
  • Some conventional cages have wire mesh floors so hen’s manure falls through. And sloped floors so eggs roll to conveyor belts.
  • Good egg products come from hens kept in enriched colony housing units.
  • A hen’s health is improved when they can roam outside to lay eggs.

Establishing Efficient Egg Collection and Storage Systems

Efficiency in egg collection and storage is vital for maintaining the quality and freshness of your products. Investing in automated egg collection systems can save time and reduce labor costs. Proper storage facilities, including temperature-controlled environments, are essential to preserve the quality of the eggs until they reach the market.

egg farm

Selling Eggs

There are multiple avenues to explore when you’re looking to sell eggs, each with its unique advantages and challenges. Indeed, tens of thousands of eggs find their way to consumers through these various channels.

  • Farmers Markets – Eggs from both hens and ducks are often well-received at farmers markets, where consumers value locally sourced, fresh products.
  • Roadside Stands – These are particularly effective if your farm is near a well-traveled road. People tend to appreciate the authenticity that comes with buying directly from a farmer. Note that some states or local areas might require you to have a license to sell this way.
  • Grocery Stores – You can establish a partnership with local grocery stores to have a steady, consistent outlet for your eggs. However, these stores may have specific quality and packaging requirements you’ll need to meet.
  • Online Stores – If you have the capability to ship your eggs, an online storefront can significantly expand your customer base. Just ensure you’re compliant with shipping regulations and that the eggs are packaged securely.
  • Restaurants – Local restaurants, especially those that focus on using local ingredients, can be excellent partners for an egg farm. They often prefer the high-quality, fresh eggs that local farmers provide.
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – This involves customers committing to buy a certain amount of eggs for a set period, providing the farmer with a guaranteed market.
  • Subscription Services – Delivering a consistent supply of eggs to customer’s doorsteps on a regular subscription can generate a reliable income and customer loyalty.
  • Wholesale to Bakeries – Bakeries require a large number of eggs and could offer you bulk orders, although likely at a lower price per egg than other outlets.

As you can see, there’s a range of options to consider, each with its own set of prerequisites, so you’ll need to do your research and perhaps even some trial and error to figure out what’s best for your farm.

Building Strong Relationships with Suppliers and Vendors

For a successful egg farm, building strong relationships with feed suppliers, equipment vendors, and other key partners is crucial. These relationships ensure a steady supply of necessary inputs and services, contributing to the smooth operation of your farm.

Good relationships can also lead to better pricing and terms, positively impacting your bottom line.

egg farm

Why Egg Farms Are a Good Business to Get Into

Most egg farms contribute to the employment and economy in several different states. Egg farmers provide 112,723 jobs. Here’s a link to the total economic impact.

Glassdoor has the average salary for an egg farmer pegged at $49,450.

egg farm

The 4 Types of Egg Farming

Egg farming is a good choice when sorting through organic agriculture business ideas. If you’re going to produce eggs, you need to choose from one of four different business models.

Conventional Cages (Factory Farms)

This type of hen housing was designed to protect the hens from predators and the elements. Raised floor cages were brought in the 1940s. And conveyor belts in the 1960s.

UEP Certified guidelines for hen care were released in 2002.

Enriched Colony Housing Units

Each hen has more square feet with this system. Orange folds are added as privacy curtains. Scratch pads for laying hens equals more egg production.

Cage Free Systems

Cage-free hens can wander freely. However, even cage-free farms restrict the chickens to the hen housing structure. Still, the birds can perch on roosts and lay eggs in nests.

egg farm

Free Range

Hens are not caged here. They are cage-free, and they get to roam around outside. The cost of feeding the chickens is lower. Part of their natural behaviors includes foraging. The hens can at least partially feed themselves.

This option is an integral part of having a green business model. Plus, any enclosed area is harder to keep clean.

Here’s a handy comparison of these egg farming business models:

Business ModelKey FeaturesAdvantagesDrawbacks
Conventional Cages (Factory Farms)Raised floor cages, conveyor belts, UEP guidelinesHigh efficiency, protection from predators, easier managementEthical concerns, limited space for hens
Enriched Colony Housing UnitsMore square footage per hen, privacy curtains, scratch padsBetter welfare for hens, increased egg productionHigher costs, still somewhat restricted space
Cage Free SystemsHens roam inside structure, perches and nestsBetter welfare for hens, more natural behaviorsHigher costs, larger space requirements, harder to manage
Free RangeHens roam outside, foraging opportunitiesBest welfare for hens, can partially feed themselves, aligned with green business modelsHighest costs, most land needed, predator risks

egg farm

How Much Land Do Egg Farmers Need?

When you’re just starting out, a standard area of 2 acres is typically recommended for an egg farm. However, this is a general guideline and your specific needs may vary.

It’s crucial to consult local and state ordinances that may have restrictions on the type or number of birds you can legally keep. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe.

When beginning, a manageable flock size is between 50 to 100 hens, allowing you to gauge your resources and hone your skills in poultry care.

Here’s a graphic on the best states to start a farm. And some information on the steps aspiring farmers should take.

Create an Egg Farm Business Plan

There are several steps you need to take to get this right. An important part is the financial plan. Your farm business plan should include projected income, operational costs, and startup costs.

Do Market Research

Finding the most profitable eggs is important. Social media can help identify current trends. Cover items like demographics, market size, and key competitors. You may also research other types of farms, like how to start potato farming.

Assess Market Demand and Trends

Before diving into egg farming, it’s crucial to assess the current market demand and trends. This involves understanding consumer preferences, such as the growing demand for organic or free-range eggs, and adapting your farm’s production to meet these trends. Analyzing market demand helps in making informed decisions about the scale of your farm and the type of eggs you plan to produce.

Form a Legal Entity and Register Your Egg Business

Your business structure and your location will determine how you need to proceed. Many small businesses in the egg industry will only need to register a business name with local and state governments.

Becoming a legal entity is as simple as filling out a federal tax ID for many businesses.

Name and Brand Your Egg Farm Business

The vast majority of successful brands and names are simple. Avoid hard-to-spell names. Grab a domain name, preferably a .com

Open a Business Bank Account

Get a federal EIN. These offer personal liability protection. And a line of credit to sell more eggs.

egg farm finances

Is an Egg Farm Profitable?

According to IBIS World, this food is a $10 billion industry. With the right hens, you can be part of the 13% growth in profit from 2017 to 2022.

What Are The Downsides of Egg Farming?

There are some drawbacks to this type of chicken farming.

  • You can lose many hens to poultry diseases like Fowl Cholera.
  • Chicks can only be hatched in the presence of non-acidic clean water. The ground will need to be tested before you begin.
  • Methane, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases are produced.

Implementing Effective Biosecurity Measures

Biosecurity measures are essential to protect your flock from diseases and pests. Implementing strict biosecurity protocols, such as controlling access to your farm, regular health checks for your birds, and maintaining cleanliness, can prevent outbreaks that could be devastating to your business.

Exploring Value-Added Products and Services

Consider diversifying your business by exploring value-added products and services related to egg farming. This could include selling chicken manure as fertilizer, offering farm tours, or producing and selling egg-related products like mayonnaise or egg powder. Diversification can provide additional revenue streams and reduce dependence on a single income source.

The Bottom Line

Egg farming is among the most ancient agricultural activities, tracing back thousands of years. It’s an ever-evolving field, especially in the modern era, where there is a growing emphasis on ethical treatment and welfare of hens and male chicks.

This has led to new guidelines and even laws that dictate how these animals should be housed, fed, and cared for. Alongside this, the industry also has rigorous food safety checks in place to ensure the health of the consumer.

These safety protocols often include regular inspections, quality control measures, and stringent hygiene practices.

In essence, entering the egg farming business today means adapting to a landscape of both age-old traditions and cutting-edge best practices

Egg Farm FAQs

Do Hens Lay Eggs All Year Round?

Yes. But they need 14 to 16 hours of light. These animals produce in those conditions.

What do You Call an Egg Farm?

Here are some ideas.

How do I Start Egg Farming?

Start small with about 50 hens. If you’re wondering how to start farming without money, that’s impossible.

Is Egg Farming Ethical?

Yes, but you need to care for the birds properly, including what they eat. However, a large percentage still suffers from broken bones. And some hens have their beaks cut with a hot blade.

Food safety is handled at several levels to reduce Salmonella enteritidis (SE) and other issues.

Are Free Range Systems Best for Keeping Hens?

These chickens produce better-eating eggs. It’s becoming a standard practice. They can dust and bathe outside.

Here’s a great example of a Free Range Organic egg farm in Chilliwack, BC.

Image: Envato Elements

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.