The Egg Business – Progress Report


Our 7-year-old son runs the egg business on our farm.  We paid the startup costs – buying the chicks, converting an emu hut to a coop, and buying feed and supplies.  Once the first group started laying, he took over the rest.  He now buys the food, cares for the chickens and eggs, markets the eggs, and keeps records of his production, income, and expenses.

Small-scale farming is not a big money maker, and as we’ve put together our 5-year plan, we can see that we’ll have to get a bit bigger before we can realize any significant profits.  However, based on just the past few months, eggs are a good place to start.

With proper care, we’re finding that our original flock of Rhode Island Reds and Araucanas (10 pullets, one cockerel total) produces an average of about 8 eggs a day.  That’s about 20 dozen per month.  The young flock consists of 12 Barred Rock pullets and their cockerel, and up till now, they’ve been eating and not producing.  Supplemental feed for the combined flock runs him about $25/mo…  less in the growing season and  more in the Winter due to availability of forage.  So the rough cost of production is about $1.25 per dozen.

You just can't get fresher eggs than these!

Out of that 20 dozen, our family uses about 8 a month and gives away another 2.  We pay him at production cost for those.  The remaining 10 dozen have sold pretty easily at $3/dozen, so combined with the ~$12 we pay him for the eggs we use, he’s been clearing a bit under $20 a month.  Of this, he puts a good portion in his “giving” jar (currently he’s giving that to missions in Haiti, but he’s looking at other places for the future), and splits the rest between his “saving” and “spending” jars.

Well, this week, the Barred Rocks started dropping an egg or two, which means pretty soon our production will double.  His first thought was, “that’s OK, it won’t be too hard to sell twice as many eggs.”  However, we had to explain to him that although his production is doubling, the number of eggs he’ll have to sell will actually triple (because we don’t plan on upping our family consumption to 20 dozen a month!).

So, it’s on to more marketing.  He’s already made a deal with the local feed store to buy his eggs, but they only pay $1.50.  That’s enough to make a small profit, especially since his cost per dozen should drop significantly now that he doesn’t have so many unproductive mouths to feed, but it’s not nearly as nice as $3.

This whole process has become a supplement to our homeschool curriculum, as he’s not just learning animal science, but  math, accounting, business skills, marketing, and communications also.  And of course, he’s learning a lot about both personal and social responsibility, lessons that will be even more important throughout his life than the “three R’s.”  Regardless of what some might say, that kind of agricultural education certainly doesn’t seem useless to us!

If he can manage to sell 30 dozen a month at the going rate, that’s about $75 a month profit.  That might bump up a little if he’s successful in raising chicks this Spring.  That’s too bad for a backyard business, especially if you’re a Cub Scout.

Do you raise chickens or other livestock on a small scale, and if so, do you do it for profit, as a hobby, or both?  How do you market your products?  I’d also love to hear other ideas for getting kids involved in business and financial planning at an early age.  Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

Advertisements

32 responses to this post.

  1. This is awesome – good for him and you guys for helping him learn to work and manage!!!

    Reply

  2. This sounds really nice. I am impressed that your 7 year old has such responsibility, I think that is wonderful! We hope to start getting some chickens for eggs soon, everyone here is telling us it doesn’t make any money at all unless you go large scale…we have to look at it more closely though.

    Reply

  3. Posted by redgatefarm on January 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    If he’s looking for other missions opportunities, our children really enjoy Gospel For Asia. It’s a U.S. organization with incredibly low overhead, who utilizes native missionaries in Asian countries. You can apply your financial gift toward specific items. We recently went in with our kiddos, and let them pick out a bunch of livestock to help families become more self-sufficient. The chose all sorts of things, from rabbits to chickens, dairy goats, to water buffalo! Just thought I’d throw that out.

    Reply

  4. What a great job he’s doing, bravo!

    Maybe the Chicken Man can help with some advice: http://mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  5. This is such a great little business for your young son. You should be so proud of him. I am sure that he is learning so much about all aspects of business. I love the three jar idea: charity, savings and spending. All of these things are great life lessons. My 8 year old son would love to be involved in something like this. Eggs won’t work for us but I am going to see if we can find another little business for him. Thanks for this inspiring post.

    Allia

    Reply

  6. Our 3 kids have taken over these duties since our hens started laying in July. Haven’t run the numbers as you have, but they’ve sold or given away over 100 dozen eggs and have a ever growing clientele. We’re talking with a local food co-op to offer 40-60 dozen eggs every 2 weeks for their members and also have a local farmer’s market willing to sell some of our eggs. Our church is also interested in potentially letting us provide our eggs to folk in the congregation (donated) where all the proceeds go to church-sponsored missionaries in China and Zanzibar.

    We’ve got 25 layers who are producing with 50 more ready to begin laying next month and more to come. Our flock should be over 200 layers strong (Leghorns, Barred and White Rocks, Americanas, Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds, etc) by mid-summer. The kids love the extra money and their mom and I appreciate all they’re learning by taking on this responsibility.

    We’re right in the heart of cattle and horse country where the only chicken raising is in small family flocks, so hoping to exploit the opportunity available here and provide something special for the folks in our area.

    Reply

    • Very cool. We need to talk to the co-op. I had a providential meeting the other day that got me in touch with the two local Halal markets, and it looks like we’ll have markets for our goats once they start producing. 200 layers – now that would be a good-sized side business!

      Reply

  7. Posted by Heidi Ellis on January 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I love it!!!! God is good!!!

    Reply

  8. What a fabulous way to teach a child responsibility!! I lived on an orchard part of my childhood and also raised chickens (along with other small animals) and I really wish we could do that with our children. That’s probably not going to happen, but where we are I feel blessed to even have 1/3 acre. We pay our children for household chores, but that’s about the extent of their money lessons for now. What your son is doing is really awesome–thanks for sharing it!

    Reply

  9. Posted by mommywritervkent on February 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Great information. My daughter loves animals and keeps saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to have a farm.” Thanks for sharing! And wish you all lots of luck!

    Reply

  10. This is so cool! I am really impressed – and more motivated to get the chickens that we keep talking about getting!
    ~h

    Reply

    • It’s all pretty easy once you’ve got protective housing setup. There’s no time like the present to take the plunge! Last March we ordered our first chicks and with a lot of reading, we figured it out as we went. One of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

      Reply

  11. Wow, this is so great! My husband is a teeny bit anti-chicken, but I think this is a FANTASTIC project for a 7-year-old and a great lesson in all things “life” for a homeschooler – way to go!

    Reply

  12. instilling the spirit of entrepreneurship, LOVELY!

    Reply

  13. Love it! Give me time, I’m going to read your whole blog! (after work, that is)

    Reply

  14. We love your blog and can not wait for your next posts.

    After following your son’s chicken business we are convinced we want fresh eggs.
    Our next step will be to approach our HOA.

    Do you have any farmer’s markets nearby that you could add as a sales venue?
    Perhaps to a seller who already sells at the market. Maybe your son could go to the market and approach sellers with his business plan. I bet he would run into a seller that admires your son’s entrepreneurism and they could arrive upon a great business agreement.

    Thank you for this lesson -This is how our great country was built.

    Another Suggestion: When I was a kid a friend of mine leased a 1/4 acre from a farmer’s market grower. He grew and sold fresh flower bouquets at the market. The flowers he grew could be dried. The unsold bouquets were hung to dry and sold later in the fall season.

    Reply

    • Wow, what great ideas – thanks! We just went to the NH Farm and Forest Expo, and he was introducing himself as an egg farmer to everyone he met. That’s a great idea to approach someone who’s already selling at the market!

      Thanks for all the encouragement also – I am absolutely amazed at what you all manage to do on a small plot. Best wishes with your HOA. You may be hitting just the right time to do that, with the interest in sustainability, local food, etc!

      Pat

      Reply

  15. What a great post!!! We are hoping to do something similar with our daughter. Our next goal is to get a farmers market stand in our Vermont City. Fresh Eggs are like gold in this town. Nonetheless, this is such a great story, especially the educational component and that small scale farming can work with a plan. Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply

  16. I echo what so many have said here — I have a 7 year old and think this would be great for him also.

    Reply

  17. Greetings! As a token of appreciation for your Blog, the words and ideas you share and the many ways in which you inspire, I would like to offer you the Versatile Blogger Award. Please visit the article below, at Granny’s Parlour, to see easy instructions regarding how to accept this award and how to pass it along, should you wish to do so (no obligations). Have a great weekend!
    http://grannysparlour.com/2012/02/11/writing-from-the-heart-seven-random-things/

    Reply

  18. […] wonderful VBA blog post: THE EGG BUSINESS: PROGRESS REPORT… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

    Reply

  19. I shared this on the Versatile Blogger Award website that I administrate. Congrats! Carley

    Reply

  20. I came across a great post written by another 7yo kid working on a farm. Drop on by and read what Hannah has to say – wonderful stuff here! http://dairyfarmfamily.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/kids-can-work-on-farms/

    Reply

  21. Pat, Griffin is totally impressed with David! He’s had a rough couple of days and getting to see & read about David & his eggs really cheered him up. We sure do miss all of you. Maybe the boys can webcam soon! Give my love to all!

    Reply

    • Buffi, we miss you all also! We’ve been off the blog because of all the busy-ness (and business) out here! Webcam sounds like it could be fun! Let’s coordinate that!

      Reply

  22. I love this! We were selling our eggs and made a good profit. We did it as a family. I love the idea of having one child/person responsible. We are in a period of transition, but should we have chickens in our next location I may copy your idea and give it to my son for a business as well. Thanks!!!

    Reply

Please feel free to comment or respond - we may take a bit to get back to you (between feeding animals, mucking stalls, mending fences, and chasing the goats out of the chicken coop again!)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: