What affects the price of eggs?

(WHTM) – Simply put, a lot of things. As one farming expert told us, “There is no uniform answer to the pricing question.”

Increases in gas and diesel prices, labor costs, feed costs, costs of maintaining biosecurity around the farm, ongoing supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, and of course losses from avian influenza are just a few of the factors fueling higher egg prices.

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There Are Some Signs of Hope: Today’s USDA Market Report (Jan 24, 2023) “Daily Northeast Eggs” It shows that eggshell stocks were up 2.6 percent from last Monday, January 16th. On the other hand, the USDA’s Monthly Chicken and Egg Report shows that egg production in Pennsylvania in December 2022 was down 17 percent from December 2021.

Of all the factors, bird flu might be the easiest to measure. Both state and federal officials have been keeping track of where, when and how the disease spreads, and have compiled pages of statistics. Genetic testing has helped track where it spread. In short, avian influenza is one of the best paper trails of all the factors leading to the current egg shortage. So let’s review it step by step.

The first thing we have to keep in mind is The flu is still with us. Twelve states are still dealing with the disease, including three near Ohio on January 18, Virginia on January 19, and New Hampshire on January 23.

As of 5:02 p.m. on January 24, there are no infected herds in Pennsylvania. Whether that will be true at 5:03 p.m. is anyone’s guess. This is because the primary vector of infection, according to genetic analysis, is migratory wild birds. As they travel they leave evidence of their death… that could contain the virus.

The last reported outbreak occurred in Pennsylvania on November 17, 2022. So what happens when an infected herd is found? Birds must be euthanized, carcasses disposed of in a way that does not spread the virus, and the facility where the birds were must be thoroughly disinfected. Then farmers have to wait at least 21 days before they can restock. (They will spend this time complying with many rules and restrictions, filling out permit packets, and applying for government and federal government compensation.)

Once restocked, the question of how quickly they start making money again depends on the purpose for which they are raising the chickens. Chickens for dinner dishes can be ready for market in six to eight weeks. If you are raising chickens for eggs, you will need six chickens monthsrom hatching before the hen starts laying eggs. So, if the flock from November 17th is replaced by newborn chicks by December 18th, the farmer will not have eggs to sell until sometime in June.

This may be one of the reasons for the high price of eggs. Or maybe not. As mentioned earlier, there is no unified answer to this problem. About the only thing we can be sure of is that all the small issues that feed into the big problem will take some time to be resolved.