Shelby Grebenc is an more than just an impressive entrepreneur. She’s kind of an egg farming genius. Here’s what she had to say about eggs, farming, starting a business and the reason she got into all of this in the first place.
“There is a lot more to raising chickens and eggs than you might think. It has taken me a long time to learn these things. You don’t count your money first. The first thing you need to do is get an official state I.D. so that you can open your own bank account and get a check book so that you can pay for stuff and have some place to put your money. You can’t do any business with out these things. The adults you have buy stuff from do not take you seriously” without it.
Turns out, you have to sell about 150 dozen eggs before you make a profit. Shelby sells “around 12 to 17 dozen eggs a day, and more when it is warmer because my girls lay better. There are lots of things that drive my costs besides water and electricity. The diesel price hike made my costs go up a year or two ago because farmers had to pay more to fill up their tractors to harvest grain. Then the drought hit and made my prices go up more again because the grain that is used to make chicken food did not grow. I had to pay something called taxes last year. I did not know I would have to do this.”
“Complying with Animal Welfare Approved Standards is good to let people know that you are humanly raising your animals but it increases my costs a lot to do this. I don’t mind because the animals that give us the eggs should have the best life that I can give them for their service. They get outside and run around everyday just like wild birds but they have the same risk of being eaten by predators, like wild birds. A lot of my losses are from people’s pet dogs too. People let their dogs out to just run around. When a dog gets into a flock of chickens it will kill them just for fun. When you lose a chicken you lose the eggs you would have gotten.”
On the Eggs
“It takes a long time to get an egg from a chicken — between 32 and 36 weeks. By the time a chicken starts to lay an egg I have about $70.00 to $100.00 in to my girl. I love my chickens. If you hatch your own eggs about half of the chicks will be roosters. You only need one rooster to mate with your chickens to get fertilized eggs. The rest of the roosters just eat up food, poop and fight, so it is best to sell them or eat them before they get too old. This means you have to kill a chicken that you have raised and it is hard sometimes. You have to get new chickens up and laying before your old chickens die or are killed or before the old chickens start to molt so you will have eggs to sell. Molting is where the chickens loose their feathers and regenerate. Chickens do not lay eggs while they are molting but you still have to take care of them until they are through it.”
“People just think you collect and sell eggs. Not really. I order feed in at six tons at a time which is how I can get the best price. Also, six tons of food turns into six tons of chicken poop. I do a lot of lifting, shoveling and coop cleaning that does not get shown on television. I can drive our farm tractor so that helps. It’s not very romantic and people don’t think about that part of it and when they find out they make fun of you because you are doing something gross for work.”
On the Reasons Why
Like her story? Even if you can’t buy her eggs, she reminded us to “please keep in mind the reason I started this is because my mom has MS, she was very sick and we needed money.” That means the best thing you can do for her, her chickens and her mom is to support your local MS Society chapter and hope for a cure, very soon.