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A Mystery: why aren't more farms doing eggs?
Last Post 24 Mar 2012 01:24 PM by Argyle Acres. 6 Replies.
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Daybreak FarmUser is Offline
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Daybreak Farm

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18 Jul 2011 09:29 AM  
Hi All,

Just created our profile, and as you can note, we are investigating a mix of animal production to augment our produce production. We would really like to do eggs...the local restaurants want them, it seems they sell out rapidly at farmers' markets, and we think we could make them a serious part of a CSA, either ours or as an add-on to another farm. We are not yet certified organic, but plan on doing so, so the eggs would be organic.

The only thing we can't figure out is why there aren't more eggs out there on the market, given the high demand. A couple of theories:

-there ARE lots of eggs for sale, we just happen to have hit the Portland, Camden, and Union farmers markets when they sold out early, and the local restaurants interested in organic eggs just don't know where to get them.

-a lot of people don't like looking after chickens all winter long, they'd rather go to Moab or Belize

-at $4.50/doz (July 11 MOFGA Price report), you still can't make any money (or the return to labor is too low) given the high cost of organic feed, and customers in Maine just won't pay $5 or $6 a dozen.

-something else

-no mystery, there's a goldmine to be had in organic egg production (or at least its not bad, can help you break into markets, and gives you lots of great manure).

-a mixture of the above.

Please help us unravel this mystery!

Thanx,
Davis
Daybreak Farm
Washington, Maine
Garens GreensUser is Offline
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Garens Greens

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12 Jan 2012 05:22 PM  
Your theories are spot on.My experience was that I inherited a flock of birds this summer they did pretty well for me,but a the end of it all I sold them for more than what I paid for them all... A lot of good things about them, but on top of a vegetable operation eggs just do not make much sense.. And definitely do not make enough $$.My advice, get them for yourselves but to make a business out of them is in my experience not worth the effort..
Argyle AcresUser is Offline
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Argyle Acres

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12 Jan 2012 05:37 PM  
I have sold eggs in Maine for 4 years now. It is a loss-leader.

We have changed how we have handled our poultry each year, hoping to find the adjustment that finally broke even.

Without subsidized GMO soy, I do not think it is possible for eggs to be more than a loss-leader.

Like one of my neighbors has said to me: "When I can buy eggs at IGA for $1, why should I spend $2" ?
Manny GimondUser is Offline
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Manny Gimond

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13 Jan 2012 02:25 PM  
I agree with Argyle. Your 3rd theory is most likely the culprit. This begs the question, why would a customer base who is willing to spend extra $$ on organic produce/dairy products balk at spending $4.50 on organic eggs? I recall hearing a shopper at local farmer’s market questioning why she had to spend ~$4.00 (I can’t remember the exact price at the time) on a dozen eggs , yet she had just willingly spent close to $20 dollars on a couple of pounds of organic meat. If the organic consumer base chooses to pay more (in some cases twice as much) for organic dairy products, vegetables and fruits for sustainability and/or health reasons, could it be that this same customer has yet to appreciate the true cost and benefit of sustainable egg production? I certainly never appreciated the true cost of raising layers organically until I started raising a few for my own for self-subsistence.
Argyle AcresUser is Offline
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Argyle Acres

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13 Jan 2012 04:32 PM  
Earl Butz [ Secretary of Agriculture] may be the one person the most responsible for what we see today. The idea that using tax-revenue to subsidize key Agricultural Commodities would have the end goal of reducing cost to consumer, was his brain child. The average household budget for food is less than 16% of their income, which is the lowest in recorded history. So the theory works in some context, and from the American use of it, most nations around the world mimic our farm subsidy programs.

One of the problems is that it causes some food items to be artificially lower in price. An egg gets marketed for less than what it wold cost anyone else to produce an egg.

As organic egg producers we can not compete with those prices.

Estrogen-enriched layer-feed is cheap, hens ovulate more frequently with inflated estrogen levels so commercial egg producers not only pay less for their feed, but they produce more eggs too.

Daybreak FarmUser is Offline
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Daybreak Farm

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24 Mar 2012 11:29 AM  
Thank you very much for those responses, Argyle and Manny.

It's all very interesting, this world of food...a mixture of economics and perception and politics and culture. I believe we've really hit a plateau in the size of the local foods markets...the bigger farmers' markets in Maine are largely closed to new vendors, farmers have to go to more markets to sell the same amount of produce, the price differentials between certified organic and non-certified (I'm told, for the Portland area) is zero, and some other signs (as a new farmer, I may have selective vision on this). If we want this baby to keep growing, we may need to finds some new ways...

Thanx again, and thanx to anyone who adds additional commentary.

Davis at Daybreak
Argyle AcresUser is Offline
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Argyle Acres

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24 Mar 2012 01:24 PM  
... It's all very interesting, this world of food...a mixture of economics and perception and politics and culture


It is very mixed. I have in-laws who live in the DC beltway, their 'local' news covers a lot more of congressional conversation than any other area. I get an earful from time-to-time. One assumption in DC is that ALL FARMERS are on Federal subsidy, and that farming would die without Federal funding.

The primary 'voice' of farming that they hear is from the lobbyists of General Mills, Nabisco, and Monsanto.



... I believe we've really hit a plateau in the size of the local foods markets ... the bigger farmers' markets in Maine are largely closed to new vendors, farmers have to go to more markets to sell the same amount of produce,


From 1980 to today, the percentage of our society who buys from a Farmer's Market has slowly steadily grown. I am not sure if it is plateauing. More FMs are starting up each year.

FMs limit their how many vendors they allow often because the towns they are in want traffic-flow studies submitted and permits for increased vendors.

Does each and every township have one FM? No.

Some towns already have two or three FMs.



... the price differentials between certified organic and non-certified (I'm told, for the Portland area) is zero,


We have surveyed our customers. They overwhelmingly want 'local' over CO.


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