We kept the price of eggs steady at $2.50 a dozen for nearly a decade. A few years ago we reluctantly raised it to $3.00 a dozen. That’s still not enough, most times not even close to covering our costs.
Our chickens have acres to roam, eating bugs and greenery as they choose. They’ve got favorite spots for dust baths, for shady naps, and for exploring.
They enjoy daily treats from our kitchen and gardens.
Their freedom to roam boosts their quality of life and also boosts the nutritional quality of their eggs.
But with freedom comes danger.
It’s not unusual for us to lose chickens to raccoons and hawks —- in fact three of our chickens were killed in the last few weeks. That’s much more than usual, but it happens. We once lost 22 chickens to a marauding dog in a single day.
We could keep the chickens safe in confinement. After a predator kill we are forced to keep the chickens locked up for a day or two in the pen we attached to the coop, an 8 by 16 area with a roof for maximum protection. Industry standards say we could call chickens constantly penned in”free range.” Heck, we could call them that if we raised hundreds of chickens in a barn with a tiny outdoor area only big enough for three chickens. That’s what “access to the outdoors” really means to agribusiness. But we don’t. There’s no real quality of life in such conditions, no way to live as chickens prefer to live.
Despite the danger, it’s a delight to see chickens happily roosting in low shrubs or clucking companionable with each other under the shade of blackberry bushes. They’re as free as chickens can be.
We make sure they have fresh water, a roomy coop to keep them safe at night, and all the GMO-free feed they want (we hope to afford organic feed someday soon). But we never really turn a profit when selling eggs. So we’re raising the price of our eggs, reluctantly but honestly, to $4 a dozen. Hope you, our egg customers, understand.