Help, tips & advice by chicken keepers

Question: We keep about 20 hens and sell surplus eggs to neighbours. I’d like to develop this further and asked the local shop if I could supply them with free-range eggs. They said I must be registered and the eggs have to be stamped. Have I been breaking the law? I thought only people with more than 50 chickens had to be registered. Should I register and buy an egg stamp?

Anne Perdeaux says: You are right in thinking that registration with DEFRA is compulsory if you keep more than 50 birds of any type – but there are separate regulations for selling eggs. You don’t need to register with the Egg Marketing Inspectorate to sell to neighbours, as long as eggs aren’t graded for quality or weight and you have less than 350 birds. To sell at local markets, registration is required if more than 50 birds are kept, egg-boxes must be correctly labelled and individual markets may also have their own rules. When supplying shops and restaurants, egg-producers must be registered with Egg Marketing regardless of the number of hens they keep. Eggs are then graded, scanned for defects and weighed at an egg-packing centre. You can apply to set up an egg-packing centre at home, but will need the necessary equipment. Registration is free. For full details see Eggs should not be described as ‘free-range’ or ‘organic’ unless they meet the required criteria.

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