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#70030 - 12/29/03 06:40 AM Re: Recent high egg prices
Anonymous
Unregistered


In Western NY I've seen grocery store egg prices ranging around $1.30 a dozen for plain-jane white eggs, about $2.50 a dozen for "Eggland Best." An in-law (on Atkins) living in Central NY pays almost $3 a HALF DOZEN (she wasn't exactly sure of the price) for certified organic free range brown eggs in clear packaging.

I've just got a small flock, but sell the extra eggs. My customers are folks in town and folks I work with. I get $1.25 a half dozen, and due to my flock limitations, have my "regulars", and have had people actually excited about eggs and chickens and asking to become customers. I label my cartons with pictures of the chickens (done using the digital camera) and folks get really excited.

A local grocery store chain (Wegmans) uses the tagline "Food You Feel Good About" to advertise their line of food items. I think that is a brilliant motto. I think that average feel so very disjointed from their food that they eat. Most don't garden, and certainly don't have room, time, or knowledge for chickens (or pigs or cows). A lot work in technical jobs where they drive a desk all day. The media widely covers stories of animal cruelty and bad practices in the food production industries. But not everyone wants to become a vegan! So I think that if a good-faith connection can made between the customer and the chicken (and the people caring for the chickens!) that that will drive desire for those eggs and price will become secondary.

At least this is the theory that I've come up with my small flock... smile

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#70031 - 12/29/03 06:55 AM Re: Recent high egg prices
Bruce Smith Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 560
Loc: Michigan
There have been some discussions of diatomaceous earth in the past. Try a keyword search using 'earth' or DE in the Poultry Health and Management areas. Some people believe in it, and some don't. I use it extensively in my garden, as it is very effective on soft-bodied insects such as cabbage worms and potato beetle larvae. I think it probably has some effect on some internal parasites, but I'm beginning to think (from the experiences of others) that it probably isn't 100% effective all the time. In the recent gapeworm thread in the Waterfowl section I told about my recent experiment with DE-treated wheat against gapeworm in ducks. I think that because the gapeworms attach to the throat lining, the wheat may have been effective since it carried the DE directly to the soft bodies of the worms as the ducks swallowed it. This was an empirical "study," to repeat myself.
With production down after our late moult here, I recently wormed with piperazine for roundworms. This way I only lost about 2 1/2 dozen eggs during withdrawal.
As for sniffles, most people try to isolate birds as soon as any sickness appears, then treat the affected ones with medication specifically for what they have. About three years ago when our barn roosters came down with laryngitis, we isolated them, then treated with gallimycin that we knew was effective on respiratory problems in poultry. When they were thoroughly cleared up and kept away for a couple of weeks, we put them back in the barn and have had no trouble since. Personally, I don't mind using drugs when they are really needed, but I also don't believe in medicating anyone on an ongoing basis.
I think if we continue this direction we probably ought to be moved to Poultry Health. Liz has some good points about the original topic.

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#70032 - 12/29/03 01:22 PM Re: Recent high egg prices
Anonymous
Unregistered


Sally, you can also search for worming - we've had this discussion here before. Where we are, there hasn't been a concern about worms. Our free-range layers may have a mild parasite load. Our fecal exams do not indiate that we have a problem. As per posts long ago, Dr. Darwin Brightman, a retired poultry scientists at SDSU, advised us that the worming medications would stress the birds more than a light parasite load will. So, unless the parasite load gets high enough, the treatment is worse than the disease (has a more negative impact on production and overall health of the bird). Older birds develop a resistance to parasite infestations.

We do not cull a bird that sneezes, although many do. When sneezing starts, they go to the hospital pen where they are well-fed and watered. We assume that the problem is a viral one, as it would be in humans, unless it persists long enough to begin causing a non-clear discharge, then that is presumed to be bacterial and we WILL administer antibiotics at that point. A bird that has taken antibiotics can return to the flock after a pre-defined period of time (to allow the medication to leave the body). I don't remember the recommended time period right now because we rarely have had to give antibiotics. It is way more usual in our flock to have to treat an infected rooster eye than it is to have to give antibiotics to a layer.

With regard to diatomaceous earth (DE), I have seen research that supports the viewpoint that it is worthless for worming. Now, there are many people who use it for that reason. We don't.

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#70033 - 12/29/03 06:42 PM Re: Recent high egg prices
Sally Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/15/03
Posts: 686
Loc: Florida
Thank you all for all the info. Some of it is new to me and some isn't but all is appreciated. I will go to the other room to see what is up.
so much thanks......so little time....
_________________________
sallyDIABLO

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#70034 - 01/01/04 05:18 AM Re: Recent high egg prices
Anonymous
Unregistered


Argh - hit the wrong button too soon! mad

These are some thoughts that are running around in my head. I apologize if it is obvious to others... I'm used to hearing about this/thinking in these terms for my other job, I think it could apply to chickens and eggs and help drive people to your product rather than a generic egg.

Who do you want to sell to? What are the characteristics of this group?
- people who can afford to pay a little extra for eggs
- people who have money probably don't have lots of extra time (so make it convenient to get to the eggs. Selling from a convenient location comes to mind, but could it also mean having a delivery service? Working with a milk-man if one is in the area? Can eggs be sold from the cooler of a work-out gym? Which pairings make sense?)

Some folks are just not going to be the targeted consumer. I'm thinking of my Dad who grew up in the depression...he is just not going to spend the extra $. But people with little kids who want the best for "Johnny" might.

What is the value add of your product? How does purchasing your product bring the consumer an additional value compared to purchasing a generic egg? How can this be conveyed to the customer?

-- it could be that the product being sold is different (Leee, I keep thinking about the multi-color eggs all in one package. That is so cool! Does the consumer know that before they open the container?
I think this is what other producers do when does when they advertise the Omega-content of their eggs and follow it up by stamping each egg)
-- the product is fresher than the competition. Budweiser puts a "Born on date" on the label. What about a "laid on date?" (The downside may be the need to track this date & pull product from the distributers if it gets too old...)
-- it could be that the customer purchasing this product does not have to feel badly since the chickens producing this product are not living in inhumane conditions. How can this be conveyed to the consumer? I get this feeling when I get the time to go to the Farmer's Market and I can meet the farmer. How can this be conveyed without the face to face meeting?

...and so on...

I hope this makes sense. I'm interested in tossing these ideas around. Happy New Years!

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#70035 - 01/01/04 09:37 AM Re: Recent high egg prices
Bruce Smith Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 560
Loc: Michigan
So how many birds does Eggland keep in a building? Are they floor birds, or is the 'organic' part just derived from what they eat? Is all the grain in their ration organically produced? I doubt it, and I doubt that they truly range free. And being 'certified organic' with the official USDA rules now doesn't impress me much, either. Is Eggland just doing a better job of public education (some might call it propagandizing) than others? Here is a corporation that is talking to the public, but is the public getting what it really needs to know? At $6 per dozen, I could put out lots of press releases, too.

Lee's point is a good one. Every mass-produced factory egg in the stores is 'farm-fresh.' It may be farm fresh from storage in their cooler for five months, but it's fresh from a farm of some kind. This point emphasizes the need to promote products in meaningful ways. I like to use the phrase "These eggs were laid by happy hens." This gives an opportunity to respond to the customers question about what makes a hen happy.

A local producer has the opportunity to get the truth to consumers if he chooses to do so. There's a niche.

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#70036 - 01/01/04 10:36 AM Re: Recent high egg prices
Anonymous
Unregistered


Jake, perhaps we're saying the same things in different terms. If we had a multitudinous army of smaller, passionate producers who raise poultry products humanely and of very high quality, these people out there aggressively educating their consumer base, that is certainly one way.

But, I am pessimistic that it will happen that way. I have participated in our Farmers' Market for quite a few years now. The other vendors there just sell and take money. They don't do any education. They themselves are uneducated.

My point is this, Jake. An effective food movement needs leadership. It needs passionate leadership. It needs a huge effort to educate the mass public about the present state of food production. A bunch of cats out selling "farm fresh stuff" isn't going to get the job done. If that's what you wanna do, more power to you, Jake. That's what we've been doing for a long time now and it fills niches but it doesn't accomplish anything big. We need a passionate organization with a passionate leadership - people willing to shave their heads for the future of the family farm and the safety and quality of the American food supply.

Farm Fresh Eggs you got? Yeah, yeah.... (yawn), that's what they all say. Even the mega-producing confinement facilities (farms) say that. It has no meaning now because everybody says it.

Do you know, Jake, that Corporate has new ways to fool the public? Some now claim "cage free" egg production. But this is still a confinement facility, they just use a broiler house packed full of layers and they use migrant workers who pick up eggs. The hens still live a miserable life packed in a building like sardines. Debeak them so they can't pick each other bloody. There you have it! Cage free! A huge improvement in humane production of eggs! (not)

Anytime I see a person saying the phrase "Farm Fresh Anything" I see 1) someone who is so nieve to think that anyone believes that (or attaches any meaning to it) or 2) a crook trying to fool me. It's like when the used car salesman tells you that he's a Christian.

I like Bruce's "Happy Hens". I will start using that.

"The highest quality eggs come from Naturally Happy Hens!"

Forget the "Farm Fresh Eggs" cliche.

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#70037 - 01/01/04 01:40 PM Re: Recent high egg prices
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hmmm ... I have farm fresh brown eggs from cage-free,free-roaming,"free range weather permitting" happy hens. I think. How will I ever get all that on a package! J/K

EggInnovations is advertising for growers in our area, BTW ... has anyone ever dealt with them?

I just wonder where our end of the food industry will be in a few years since people have lots of questions about sources of feed, and processing and by-products .... all kinds of questions.

Lee has a good point about educating the consumer. It's hard to imagine (having gone to craft shows with my folks lo these many year) a vendor NOT trying to educate as they sell.

Perhaps the Internet will help us small farmers do more niche marketing.

Very interesting discussion!
ann

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#70038 - 01/03/04 08:50 PM Re: Recent high egg prices
Sally Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/15/03
Posts: 686
Loc: Florida
To advertise all natural eggs what does everyone feed? Is it then bad to feed chick started because it has medication? or processed feed because it has preservatives? My neice would only eat my eggs because as a "naturalist" (whatever that means to her) she will only eat eggs from chickens that are not oppressed. That said, she will also not eat any dairy products because she thinks the milking process and housing "depresses and opresses" the cattle. In Florida many of our local food stores now carry advertised "free roaming, all natural brown eggs" they won't try the blues tho. Only the health food stores and the feed stores and farmer's market.

Sally
_________________________
sallyDIABLO

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#70039 - 01/04/04 10:00 AM Re: Recent high egg prices
Anonymous
Unregistered


I had peel and stick labels printed for my egg cartons (very nice but way too expensive)It has my farm logo and tagline which says "from natural farming comes natural goodness." Although my practice is organic, I'm not a certified organic farm, so that's why I went with natural.
I do say "organically fed in a free range environment" on my label. I'm paying $18 per 50 lbs. for organic feed so believe me I'll tout the organic angle. I charge $3 a dz. I fed medicated feed when they were chicks, but stopped well before egg laying. I put together a sampler of 4 brown eggs, 4 white, and 4 tan. The tan eggs are small so I worried about selling them, but people really like the different colors and sizes. Right now I'm just selling to friends, since I've only got 13 pullets. That means I'm making $3 a day before expenses! I plan to get 25 more chicks in the spring. I plan to get the clear egg cartons and use my labels when I start selling farmer's market in the spring. Then since the cartons are so expensive, I plan to offer a 10 cent refund on the cartons.

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