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The Hatching Egg Dilemma

I decided a long time ago I was only going to bring in hatching eggs instead of live chicks or chickens to the farm since I felt that the disease risk was slimmer and I also wanted to get good stock off real breeders rather than hatcheries… but let me tell you, they don’t make it easy!

Most people don’t hatch during the winter but really this makes the most sense and often times breeders do to replenish their own stock. The reason is simple: a chick hatched in fall or winter will be laying by spring. And I have found breeders usually light their coops so they have eggs all year long. So imagine my frustration to learn that contacting any of them was largely a pointless endeavor. First I searched for websites listing hatching eggs of the breeds I wanted to add to my flock. They were hard to find and indeed most breeds I came up empty handed. Of the ones I did find most did not bother replying back to my inquiry even though they listed hatching eggs as available with a price list! When this didn’t work I googled the breeds I wanted with the additional word “Craigslist.” This is my version of cold-calling. Whenever I found someone selling something interesting I would e-mail them asking if they might consider shipping some eggs out of their area. They either flat out said no (without any reasoning?) or didn’t reply at all. I searched e-bay, which I have been told repeatedly to stay away from. Nothing that struck me as any good anyway… I searched the ads on Backyard Chicken and found some, but they were dated as far back as 2010. Again, I wait for a reply.

Meanwhile there are a bunch of FaceBook groups that host poultry auctions. I watch as time and time again this is the only place to find anything interesting and I watch as the bids go from a reasonable $25 to over 100 for a dozen eggs. That’s too steep for my blood right now… and the most infuriating thing about this is it seems sparse and random auctions seem to be preferred over selling more eggs for less and making more money over time. Here’s a great example – I am looking for Mille Fleur Leghorns. Mille Fleur is a rare color in leghorns, however they still pop out eggs like Pez dispensers. Each hen lays up to 300 eggs a year. Three hundred eggs a year per hen. Think about that – that means if you have five hens and a rooster, which is a small flock, you could still end up with 1,500 eggs by the end of a year. So whhhhhhy is just one dozen eggs over $100 or more at auction IF you can even find them to begin with?! I can’t decide if this is laziness (of not wanting to box and ship them) or some twisted way of keeping the competition down! Even more exasperating – a lot of these breeders do offer chicks, but for even more, only a couple times during the year, and you’d be hard up to find anyone to ship them. AHHHHHHHH.

Meanwhile I am finding people left and right who are having the same problem and coming up with absolutely nothing. There IS a market here. So the next time someone says they can’t make money selling hatching eggs I am going to look at them and ask if they’ve even tried selling them, because really…. we’re banging at the frickin’ door!

I might piss a lot of breeders off when I set up my breeding pens… because my business model is completely different. I intend to sell most of my hatching eggs for $25 or $35 a dozen, the cost of the lowliest of breeds even though mine will be fancier than that. That’s all. I will be doing so in the hopes I can find more buyers than just the one or so a month an auction will afford and this will allow others who aren’t rolling in dough or insane to also share in the hobby. They are chickens after all! With the coming years if I get my chickens to higher and higher quality maybe I will charge a little more but I don’t think I will ever match the insanity of the others…. I mean we are talking eggs here, shipped through the mail. Anything could happen. It’s a complete gamble if they’ll even hatch so why on earth would I spend $100 or more on 12 little risky bets?!