One of the joys of raising chickens is savoring the eggs they produce. Imagine, you are getting fresh eggs from your own hens. And as most chicken keepers I know, you probably have multiple hens. I tend to think of them like I do potato chips. I just can’t stop at having one. That’s great, right? But let me ask you this, what do you do with all of those eggs?
Like many other chicken keepers that I know, we sell our surplus eggs. For example, on our urban homestead, we have the maximum number of hens allowed by city ordinance. That means we have eight chickens. On our homestead, it is just my husband and myself. Eight chickens versus two people. When the chickens are laying well, they average thirtytwo eggs per week. While we love eggs, that is more than we can consume on a weekly basis.
But since eggs are a perishable product, egg sales are regulated by the USDA. But don’t worry, there is an always exception to the rule. For example, in the state of Colorado, if your flock produces less than 250 dozen eggs per month, you are exempt from regulation. This means that you can sell directly to patrons on your farm (homestead or backyard) only, without regulation by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
However, if you wish to sell your eggs at the various farmers’ markets in Colorado, you must have a Retail Food License. At this point, according to the Colorado Cottage Foods Act of 2012, “…the egg producer needs to be recognized as an approved source by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA).” An Egg Dealer License application is available through the Colorado Department of Agriculture website. This Class l license is required for “each place where such business is conducted“, according to the Colorado Egg Act. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment requires this license. (For clarification, the Cottage Foods Act specifically calls out the foods that are covered by this act. A producer is permitted to manufacture and … “Sell only a limited range of foods that are nonpotentially hazardous and that do not require refrigeration. These foods are limited to spices, teas, dehydrated produce, nuts, seed, honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter, baked goods and candies.”)
To help producers manage the path from farm to fork is the Colorado Farm to Market website. According to this program, “This site was developed to familiarize Colorado food producers and food product manufacturers with federal, state, and local food licensing regulations and help ensure that the path food travels from farm to fork is safe.” Eggs are defined as a raw agricultural product and of particular note, “only the eggs of the domesticated chicken are covered under the Colorado Department of Agriculture Egg Law and Rules. The Department does not have regulations that apply to duck, geese, or other poultry eggs.”
Another requirement for selling at farmers’ markets is your flock must be inspected. If it has not been inspected by the USDA, it must be inspected by the CDA (this applies to flocks in Colorado).
If the flock inspection and Egg Dealer license have not dissuaded you from selling eggs at farmers’ markets, there typically is one more regulation you must adhere to. Eggs sold must be kept at a temperature between 33F and 41F for the duration of the market. Inspectors have been known to attend various markets to spot check vendors. If they test the temperature and it is above the stated maximum, you will be prevented from selling the rest of your eggs for the duration of that market.
While this article focuses on Colorado regulations, you can find out regulations by contacting your local state department of agriculture.
Eggs are not just for breakfast anymore. They also can help you pay for dinner.