Sell­ing Eggs

Anne Perdeaux gives ideas on what to do with your egg-cess pro­duce

Your Chickens - - Contents -

All you need to know

It’s sur­pris­ing how many eggs a few hens in full lay can pro­duce. Some­times the abun­dance is over­whelm­ing, and un­less you are prac­tis­ing for the Great Bri­tish Bake Off, you may find your­self with an eggs-cess.

Sell­ing your sur­plus isn’t dif­fi­cult, but re­mem­ber this bounty is sea­sonal and in au­tumn the cup­board will prob­a­bly be bare. Be­fore dis­pos­ing of your eggy as­sets, ask your­self the fol­low­ing:

Have you frozen some eggs? (Beat lightly with a lit­tle salt or sugar).

Do you like pick­led eggs? They are easy to make and you can vary the pickle to taste.

What about bak­ing cakes and quiches for the freezer?

Are there any neigh­bours who need pla­cat­ing after a feath­ery in­va­sion?

Did your chicken-sit­ters find plenty of eggs last time they helped out?

Will you be vis­it­ing friends this sum­mer? Eggs make a lovely gift.

Can you find any new ways to cook with eggs?

Still up to your neck in eggs? Time for your poul­try to earn their pel­lets!

First count your chick­ens (and other poul­try):

If you have fewer than 350 birds, you can sell di­rect to con­sumers (‘farm gate sales’) with­out reg­is­ter­ing as an egg-pro­ducer. You’ll need to regis­ter if you want to sell at lo­cal mar­kets and have more than 50 birds al­though mar­kets may have their own reg­u­la­tions too. Bear in mind that reg­is­ter­ing as an egg-pro­ducer is sep­a­rate from the re­quire­ment to regis­ter with DEFRA if more than 50 birds are kept.

FARM GATE SALES

You can sell eggs from your home, door-to-door, or even to col­leagues at work: Eggs must be for the pur­chaser’s own use. If in­tended for re-sale to con­sumers (via a shop or ho­tel, for example), they must come from a reg­is­tered pro­ducer and be graded at an egg-pack­ing cen­tre.

Eggs mustn’t be de­scribed as Small, Medium, Large, or graded for qual­ity (Class A). The terms ‘free-range’ and ‘or­ganic’ have of­fi­cial stan­dards, and shouldn’t be used un­less you meet the rel­e­vant cri­te­ria.

Just be orig­i­nal when de­scrib­ing your eggs:

‘Fresh eggs laid by lib­er­ated hens!’

‘Ban­tam eggs - good things come in lit­tle pack­ages!’

SELL­ING AT A LO­CAL MAR­KET

Check with your coun­cil for their reg­u­la­tions - you may need to regis­ter as an egg-pro­ducer even if you have fewer than 50 birds. This isn’t dif­fi­cult, and you’ll be given an identifying num­ber to stamp on the eggs. The first digit of this shows the way the hens are kept (O = Or­ganic; 1 = Free Range; 2 = Barn; 3 = caged). Then comes the coun­try of ori­gin (UK), fol­lowed by the num­ber al­lo­cated to your premises.

Al­though you can’t grade eggs by size or qual­ity, for mar­ket sales egg-boxes must be la­belled with:

GYour name and ad­dress GA ‘best-be­fore’ date (max­i­mum 28 days from lay­ing)

GAd­vice to keep eggs chilled after pur­chase

De­spite the ad­vice to cus­tomers, eggs aren’t

re­frig­er­ated in the shops. This is a le­gal re­quire­ment to pre­vent changes in tem­per­a­ture dur­ing trans­porta­tion.

Egg-boxes, la­bels and egg-stamps are avail­able from poul­try sup­ply stores.

FUR­THER IN­FOR­MA­TION - REG­IS­TER­ING AS AN EGG-PRO­DUCER

Reg­is­tra­tion is free and the form is on the DEFRA web­site (www.gov.uk/guid­ance/ eggs-trade-reg­u­la­tions). Click on “Egg-pro­duc­tion site: reg­is­tra­tion”. This will take you to the form plus the guid­ance doc­u­ment: “Guid­ance on the leg­is­la­tion cover­ing the mar­ket­ing of eggs”. Have a look at this even if you don’t need to regis­ter - don’t be put off by its length as not all of it is rel­e­vant to small-scale pro­duc­ers.

KEEP­ING RECORDS

Any­one sell­ing eggs should keep records and the DEFRA guid­ance doc­u­ment in­cludes a chart show­ing what is re­quired. This in­cludes de­tails of lay­ing hens, feed, medicines, eggs pro­duced and sold.

File your re­ceipts and other doc­u­ments too.

Don’t for­get the tax­man! When you sell a box of eggs you are trad­ing - so keep an ac­count of in­come and ex­penses.

SELL­ING AS A REG­IS­TERED PRO­DUCER

Once reg­is­tered you can send eggs to a pack­ing station – or even set one up at home so you can sup­ply di­rect to lo­cal traders. The form to regis­ter as a pack­ing station is on the DEFRA web­site. You’ll need some equip­ment and will have to be ap­proved by the Lo­cal Author­ity.

QUAL­ITY CON­TROL

Even if you are just sell­ing sur­plus eggs to the neigh­bours, you’ll want to es­tab­lish a good rep­u­ta­tion for your pro­duce.

For in­ter­est, these are some of the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tions for Class A eggs (sold in the shell to con­sumers). Any that don’t meet these cri­te­ria are dis­posed of or pro­cessed com­mer­cially: The shell and cu­ti­cle must be of nor­mal shape, clean and un­dam­aged

The air space height can­not ex­ceed 6mm (4mm if mar­keted as ‘ex­tra fresh’)

When can­dled the yolk should ap­pear as a shadow with no clear out­line

The yolk should be slightly mo­bile when the egg is turned, re­turn­ing to a cen­tral po­si­tion

The white must be clear and translu­cent

The ger­mi­nal disc must not be de­vel­oped

For­eign mat­ter or smell is not per­mit­ted

Eggs must not be washed or cleaned

Eggs may not be treated for preser­va­tion or chilled in ar­ti­fi­cial tem­per­a­tures of less than 5°C Eggs must al­ways be kept clean, dry and out of di­rect sun­light

Al­though you can’t see in­side the shell with­out ‘can­dling’ ap­pa­ra­tus (which uses a bright light to in­spect the egg’s con­tents), it’s pos­si­ble to main­tain high stan­dards:

En­sure your hens are healthy, live in clean con­di­tions and have a good diet.

Don’t wash eggs for sale – pre­vent soil­ing by keep­ing nest-boxes clean and stop­ping hens from roost­ing in them.

Evict broody hens from nest-boxes, and don’t sell eggs they’ve sat on.

Only sell eggs with clean, un­blem­ished, in­tact shells.

Re­mem­ber that shells are por­ous and can ab­sorb smells as well as bac­te­ria.

Col­lect eggs at least daily, store in a cool place and sell within a day or two of lay­ing.

Bear in mind that stress in the flock can re­sult in de­fec­tive eggs for a few days.

Avoid sell­ing eggs from hens that reg­u­larly pro­duce wa­tery whites, meat or blood spots.

Many peo­ple dis­like eat­ing fer­tile eggs – and poor stor­age could even re­sult in some de­vel­op­ment. Ad­vise cus­tomers if you keep a cock­erel. Re­mem­ber that lay­ing de­clines in win­ter. To avoid dis­ap­point­ing cus­tomers, you may need to in­crease your flock in the au­tumn.

Leg­is­la­tion can vary in dif­fer­ent parts of the Bri­tish Isles and is sub­ject to change. Check with DEFRA for cur­rent ad­vice in your lo­ca­tion.

Be orig­i­nal when de­scrib­ing your eggs: Fresh eggs laid by lib­er­ated hens!

ABOVE: Fresh eggs how lovely! BE­LOW: Home-made pick­led eggs are tasty and make an un­usual gift too

BOT­TOM: Eggs for sale at a lo­cal mar­ket

ABOVE: Be pre­pared to in­crease your flock to keep sup­plies con­stant

BE­LOW: Don’t let broody hens sit in the nest-boxes

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