The Chicken and the Egg: What to Do as Supply Chain Problems Keep Getting Worse

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Whether you call it St. Lucia’s Day, Candlemas, or Imbolc, the halfway point between the winter equinox and spring solstice occurs this week, and that traditionally has meant eggs. I got my first egg of the year just last week and am looking forward to more. 

The average price of eggs is currently $4.25 per dozen, up from $1.79 a year ago. Now, this is a nationwide average. In my area, I have not found anything for less than $5.50 per dozen in over a month. Also, my store only carries medium eggs these days. I’m not sure when the last time was that I saw large or extra-large. 

(Fun fact: I have a good friend who has been in the egg industry for years, and before Covid, Americans either exported medium eggs to Asia or just threw them out. There was zero domestic demand. Now medium eggs seem to be all we can get.)

Unfortunately, there are a variety of problems facing egg producers at the moment.

The big talk has been bird flu. Nearly 60 million birds have either died from the flu or have been put down due to the most recent outbreaks. That puts a dent in production. 

Less widely discussed have been the damages to egg production facilities, but they’ve occurred, too. Just this past Saturday, January 28, a fire occurred at an egg facility in Connecticut, killing over 100,000 birds. No causes for the fire have been given yet. 

The OP reported on the food facility fires back in April, but mainstream media keeps insisting that there’s nothing to see here. 

I don’t know enough about average industrial facility fire rates to make a bulletproof argument regarding whether or not these fires have been intentional. However, even if they are just a series of accidents, this series of accidents could be seen as evidence of the increasing Thirdworldization of the U.S.

Fabian described Thirdworldization as a slow-burning SHTF event, where things just gradually get worse and worse. Quality and availability go down; prices and crime go up; quality of life gradually erodes. Decreasing workplace safety would go along with this. For decades, the American workplace has been getting cleaner and safer. The string of fires, if nothing else, gives evidence that that’s no longer the case. Some of the fires in 2022 occurred in plants known to have sloppy safety protocols.  

And this, of course, affects our ability to process food, which in turn leads to decreased availability and increased prices. 

Given these situations, it’s not unreasonable that more people than ever have expressed interest in starting their own backyard flocks. Between the pandemic, food shortages, and general increased awareness about animal welfare, many urban and suburban dwellers have gotten into raising their own birds.

However, many of these same small flock owners have been complaining recently about a larger-than-usual drop in egg production. Rumors have been going around about feed being tampered with, and anecdotally, people have been saying they’ve had problems with the popular brands Producer’s Pride and DuMor. Both of these happen to be owned by Purina and typically have a 16% protein content. People have been claiming that the feed manufacturers have lowered the protein content recently, though I can’t find any confirmation of that. I have always bought my feed from a small regional producer, so I didn’t start paying attention until recently. 

And unfortunately, I haven’t been alone in my lack of attentiveness. Tucker Carlson just did an episode about problems with our food supply and points out that it’s hard to get solid evidence about anything from the fires to the feed issues because the people in power are genuinely not interested. Curiously, he does remind us at 0:54 that Biden promised food shortages last year. Biden seems to be delivering. 

It might be time to start getting feed locally.

I am hesitant to point fingers and level accusations at big-feed producers without anything more to go on than hearsay.

However, if you are genuinely concerned about this, I think there are some excellent reasons to look into procuring feed locally from independent producers. 

I began raising birds in 2014, catering to customers looking for pasture-raised, organically-fed birds. Now, I have never had an organic certification myself, but I have always bought feed from an organically certified producer. Despite the high cost, I have never had any regrets. 

First of all, you get what you pay for, and higher-quality feed means higher-quality eggs. You will notice the difference in the color of the yolk, the texture of the white, and the hardness of the shell. 

Second of all, I have long suspected prices for specialty feed will be more stable in the long term, and so far, the past couple years have proved me correct. My feed prices have increased 20% since 2021. My egg industry friends, using conventional feed, have seen an increase of 100%. Yes, it’s cheap, but it’s doubled in a year. That is a big change to make, and as a business owner, a much harder adjustment for customers used to certain prices.

 The reasons behind this are many and varied. If you want an in-depth discussion of why what most of us think of as “luxury food” may be more stable in the long run, I would recommend watching Joe Rogan’s discussion with Will Harris of White Oak Pastures here. For now, I will just say that the gap between conventional and specialty feed price-wise is still there, but it’s considerably smaller than it was a few years ago. And that may not change much for the foreseeable future. 

Third, if you can find an independent feed producer in your area, they may be more open to explaining what’s going on in the event of future price increases. I’ve had a good relationship with my feed producer, and they have been great about explaining price increases or different formulations.

(Looking for other ways to shore your family against food shortages? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to building a 3-layer food storage system.)

But what if you don’t have an independent producer in your area?

Or what if (more likely) you’re a suburban flock owner with six birds, and the independent producers in your area won’t deliver anything less than a ton?

Well, formulating your own feed is always an option, one that shouldn’t scare you unnecessarily. People have been keeping hens long before they could just run out to Tractor Supply or Rural King for whatever they needed. 

My layer feed is 16.5% protein, and it’s been working for me for years. The brands causing complaints have a 16% protein content; if you’re having problems, but you don’t want to toss your feed, maybe try supplementing your current feed with some meat scraps for a few weeks and see what happens.

Chickens are not naturally vegetarian. I have seen mine chase mice and eat baby birds that have fallen from nests (that was gross). Don’t be afraid to give them meaty table scraps.

Another option, if you have a supplier that only works in bulk, might be to find a group of backyard flock owners in your area and come up with a plan to divide up a ton of feed. I would suggest getting the same size storage containers, something like a Rubbermaid, because those seal tightly and are rodent-proof, and using those to divide the feed evenly. Dividing up a ton of feed into a couple of dozen bins is itchy, exhausting work, but depending on your situation, it may be a good option. Just make sure you have a hand cart to move those bins around afterward!

And make sure to discuss your situation with the feed producer. They’re all different. Some can dump a ton of feed into a grain hopper (should you come across one of those), and others will carry feed in one-ton totes. And some feed producers will have subcontractors that will deliver smaller amounts of feed for a fee. All kinds of arrangements exist out there. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions.

To be honest, if you don’t want to buy premium feed, if you aren’t familiar with raising animals, or if you don’t already have experienced friends that can help you troubleshoot, this may not be the right time to start raising chickens.

If you are truly concerned about the food supply and are willing to put some money toward securing animal protein, buying an extra freezer and trying to source a half or quarter steer may be a more cost-effective option. Just make sure you have a generator or are ready to can, dehydrate and/or salt the meat in case of a long-term power outage.

Life without eggs?

I love eggs, too, but they’re just not cheap anymore, no matter what you do.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are other ways to keep healthy fat and protein in your diet. Here are some tips on getting your eggs at the best price possible. I hope you’re not discarding any of your fat from cooking because that can be added to beans and vegetables to make them more filling. See this article about rendering fat if you’re interested in discarding as little food as possible. Mushrooms and onions fried in leftover bacon grease are a good alternative savory breakfast. And flaxseed makes a decent egg substitute for most baking purposes. Just mix 1 tbsp flaxseed with 3 tbsp water, let it sit for at least ten minutes, and that’s your vegan egg equivalent.

If you feel truly called to start raising your own birds, do some research. The OP ran an article about getting started with a backyard flock. But it was written assuming a reliable feed supply. Go ahead and re-read the article bearing in mind that procuring quality feed may be a little more involved than just running to the farm store and grabbing whatever.

(Want uninterrupted access to The Organic Prepper? Check out our paid-subscription newsletter.)

Becoming more involved with your food supply is wonderfully gratifying.

For some people, formulating feed may be the next step on their self-sufficiency journey. If you are really committed to starting your own backyard flock, I truly wish you the best. Just understand that the birds are a responsibility and that you will need to monitor them continually.

And I can’t overstate the importance of communication. If you don’t have in-person friends raising chickens, find a social media group in your area where you can ask questions. I know MeWe has these kinds of groups, but you could also ask around on something like NextDoor.

What about you? What is your chicken and egg situation this year? How much are you paying for eggs if you buy them at the store? If you’re raising chickens, what kind of feed do you use? If you’ve noticed anything unusual with your birds this past year, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us in the comment section below.

About Marie Hawthorne

A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.

Picture of Marie Hawthorne

Marie Hawthorne

A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.

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  • We raised chickens for years, at one time, we had over 200 laying Hens. This last Spring, after we moved in with our Son, to help with the Grands, we talked him into letting us put up a coop and pen. He readily agreed and we bought 13 Black Austalorp Hens and a Rooster (a fairly recent crossbreed). It’s now February, and the days are short. They started laying in early December. Even with the short days we’re averaging 7 – 10 eggs/day.
    Australorp’s average over 300 eggs per year. They are a large bird, but sweet dispositions and easy to handle. Handle them a lot as chicks and they bond really well to their human.
    There are predictions that we may see eggs go well above $12 – $15/ dozen or more. Especially if this government sponsored Egg Arsony continues.
    To avoid running afoul (a fowl) of the authorities, we do not sell our eggs, we give them away in exchange for a few dollars contributed for their care and feed. Perfectly legal under Colorado Law.
    Check your City Ordinances if in town. You’d be surprised, but many cities do allow you to keep a certain number of birds. Usually only Hens, no roosters.
    The price of chicks will be going up, so my recommendation is to start now.

    • I too am in CO in high country. Can’t keep extras. People want them as soon as I can get any. Part of why this is frustrating. I posted my experience below.

  • One of the first things I did after buying my home 15 years ago was to have a small chicken coop built. I’ve had as many as 5 hens, but the 3 I have now are more than sufficient since it’s just me. Actually 1 is old and just living out her life. They’re all Black Australorpes, a very calm, quiet and friendly breed. I use lay pellets from Big R which is made by Purina, I think, and haven’t seen anything strange going on with them.

  • We mix our own feed for any of our livestock, plenty of scraps for the chickens, free range forage, grasses, bug etc. We even feed the hens raw meats as a supplement for protein. We don’t buy premixed feed for any of our livestock. Had my own farm for 23 years now. Been farming much longer than that.

  • I have been raising flocks from 6 birds to 60 for 22 years. In October my 18 hens went to 3 eggs a day, then 12 a week. I have NEVER experienced this EVER. I used to live where -30 was common and never had this problem. Started talking to friends in other states. Same thing. Wondered about protein and changed daily scratch to horse sweet feed. Made some difference, like 2 dozen a week, but when I quit went down again. After much research my guess is this is a soy/gmo problem. A friend feeding organic feed has same problem. The crude protein is soy meal. Today I will start Scratch & Peck, organic, whole grain that is soy free. It is the closest I can find in my area to mixing my own. If this bag makes a difference I will get it in bulk. Don’t give up everyone! Think of Paul and fight the good fight!

  • I have 7 hens and one rooster right now. I hope to order another 6 hens this spring. I found that if I take all my household food scraps and allow them to free-range, they get by with eating little grain. Right now it is February and my hens are laying 6-7 eggs per day! I wonder how they will be doing when the days get longer!

  • My girls get an organic feed that is soy/corn free. They are just starting to pick up laying again after the shortest day of the year, just like always. Chickens can be fed entirely without commercial feed. They eat anything. This spring, I’m going to start sprouting organic grains to supplement their feed. They already get all the kitchen scraps and free range in the orchard and front yard which is about 3/4 of an acre. (The ant population and dandelions disappeared after the chickens started free ranging). My eggs are in high demand at the moment, even priced at $7 but they are evidently worth it because there is no shortage of takers. The duck eggs are going for $8. Currently, this makes it possible for me to afford the organic feed but if I can’t in the future, I’ll be ready.

    Bird flu is nothing more than an excuse to murder birds-no more real than the c word.

    • last year, I was part of a co-op, so I could buy raw milk. The co-op sold duck eggs at a dollar each. The co-op was in San Antonio.

  • I have four hens and one rooster. Their laying has dropped off dramatically over the past year. I was feeding Dumor feed from Tractor Supply and then switched to Purina. The egg laying has not improved after switching. I am now allowing them to free range more and cutting back on commercial food. I do believe something was done to the commercial feed I was buying.

  • We’ve used Modesto Milling–pellets and mash–for 25-30 years of the 37 years we have raised chiciens and been very satisfied. Our chickens also were given greens and other veggies from the garden. They also scratch around for bugs and pasture plants. Their eggs have always had dark gold yokes and tasted wonderful. We have at least 2 feed operations in our area that carry Modesto Milling. We just go there and pick-up how many bags we want. They have both soy/corn free and not soy/corn free. Our chickens were Barred Rock, Astrathorp, and Aracana. All laid so well we gave lots of eggs to our friends and neighbors.

  • After 3 months of almost nothing,my hens are starting to reliably lay. Yes, where I am,the weather had been unusually cold. However, I changed my feed to organic non GMO feed. I am also giving them greens and fruits for vitamins. This whole thing with chicken feed is just too suspicious for me to shrug off.


  • I have Buff Orpingtons (13 laying hens, 2 roosters and 40+ pullets/cockerels) and the laying hens don’t slow down one bit during the winter. They’ve always been fed New Country Organics no soy/no corn feed. About 1/3 of their large run is our compost bin and everything goes into it. Food scraps, weeds, water used to cook pasta, hair (dog, cat and human), even things that are traditionally not fed to chickens like tomatoes and citrus. They eat what they want and turn what they don’t into gorgeous compost. There are too many predators in my area to let them free range so this is the next best thing. They happily spend all day scratching and turning over the soil searching for goodies. We recently built a black soldier fly grub farm and are growing our own grain now so hopefully we can cut out the commercial feed soon. I love New Country Organics but I don’t trust that it’ll always be available especially these days.

  • I live in west Texas. I use to buy feed from two different companies based in the hill country. Then I learned they used canola, although they claim to be gmo free. I was using dumor feed and country pride scratch until I read this past week with the problems with them. I am now switching to Texas Naturals, which is a true locally sourced and non-gmo brand. I don’t sell my eggs, but share with family and friends. I consider it a form of tithing. Feed prices are increasing, but I prefer my own eggs to store brought. I have a compost pile, but with chickens, ducks, dogs and cats there is very little that goes into it. I have meat ducks, Muscovy, they don’t lay in the winter, but I share those eggss also. My veterinarian gives me a break on my visit and I give him duck eggs when they are available. Last month a chicken, I thought was killed, showed up with 13 chicks out of the draw. They are thriving and destroying my greenhouse. I can always replant, but I was unprepared for the arrival of the chicks with freezing weather.

  • First year chicken grower, with five hens (Easter eggers, Wyandotte, Asian blacks) in N Wisconsin. Feeding w/purina layena, cracked corn and kitchen scraps. They’re healthy, laying 2-3 a day in mid winter, which is enough for us. A chicken has a lifetime supply of eggs, after they run out it’s time for the stew pot. The difference between local and store bought eggs is night and day, even my pizza addled kids can tell the difference. The hens pretty much take care of themselves, but they poop all over. Be forewarned…

  • I have only raised chickens for seven years. This is the first time that I have not gotten any eggs in the winter. It has been about a month that we’ve gone without eggs. We only have eight hens but typically we would get at least 1 to 2 eggs a day even in the winter time. I feed them a non-GMO organic feed from Kreamer and they free range. We have 19 acres and they go in their coop at night but we have about a quarter of an acre fenced in with plenty of green grass then there’s a wooded area. So they have plenty of area for foraging. I’m getting ready to order some bulk supplies to make my own feed just in case the feed that we are feeding them now is causing the problem.

    • I have done the same, purchasing local grown ingredients and mixing my own. Growing fodder and fermenting grains as well.

  • Concerning food and poultry production plants burning down: One is an accident, two is a coincidence, three or more is a conspiracy. This applies to other incidents as well.

    A most profound statement: “…the people in power are genuinely not interested.” I have heard NOTHING from government officials addressing these “weird” occurrences. The New Normal, I guess.

    I predict no (or few) chicks will be available for sale this spring at farm/ranch supply stores. Chicken flocks will be a thing of the past in a couple years. My neighbors have started a flock. Lord knows what they feed them because they are not that bright. They sell eggs. I don’t buy them. I eat only local organic eggs, but they are getting expensive ($9+ a dozen). But I will get them as for as long as I can because that might not be too much longer…

  • It has been found that eggs block Covid from cells. I should have written a note to be certain, but I believe it was Joe MERCOLA’S newsletter article.
    And that may explain the egg crisis.

  • My State is in the process of taking control of our entire food production industry. From birth to packaging a government inspector will be there every step of the way. No longer will I be able to give an egg away, much less sell, lest I receive blessings from my state controller. check your state for similar legislation. “the meat act”. The end of clean food.

      • I have a business here and one of the first things I did was build a coop and bring in chickens. For the last three years I have given my customers a six pack of eggs upon arrival. Some look at it and couldn’t careless, but others, the eyes, the gratitude. I tell them each – only a Blessed man can Bless another man.- Some folks getting by on a wing and a prayer, I’m not letting anyone go hungry if I can help it. Trafficker –

  • Interesting to find out. Years ago, I used to buy flats of medium eggs at times – you could find them at Kroger stores sometimes, and the place I used to buy them was Food City, which caters to HIspanic customers. I love the place! So that was eye opening to find that medium eggs are generally exported or thrown out. I guess that might be a regional thing? I miss having hens.

  • I have ducks and poults. The poults are few weeks away from laying, but my ducks never stop, not even during molting. A little over a month ago, I was running low on layer feed, but also needed to get alfalfa pellets for my horses. I figured I’d just pick up some layer feed and game bird feed at tractor supply and blend it to get 20% protein, which is what I feed my ducks. Within a week they completely stopped laying. After researching it, I went back to my neighborhood feed store, which is the opposite direction from tractor supply. I picked up my usual Bartlett’s 20% layer, fed the other stuff to my pigs ( yum yum) and within a week they started laying again, but instead of a reliable 6 and 7 eggs a day, I’m getting four or five or six, so my hens were badly affected by one week on that feed. It was Dumor.

  • If you are unable to raise chickens ( apartment dweller or age) I have bought eggs and clear plastic egg holders. I then smear the eggs with mineral oil and place them in the egg carton. I am presently using the eggs I bought and smeared last April. I always check to see if they are bad by placing them in after. If they float they are bad.

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