Madera Unified students' egg farm in high demand amid high prices in stores

Egg prices are up, but that's if you can even find a dozen for sale.

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Madera Unified students egg farm in high demand
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Egg prices are up, but that's if you can even find a dozen for sale.

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Chickens normally produce fewer eggs in the winter, but with the spread of the bird flu at commercial egg farms, you may not find any eggs in grocery stores.

Madera South High School students are filling the cracks in this egg shortage by producing their own and selling the eggs at a fraction of the grocery store costs.

Judith Lama-Mata and Alayja Hall are juniors working on the school's poultry coop project. "It feels good honestly," Lama-Mata said. "Everybody's (wants) to get eggs but sadly we give them to everybody because it sells out."

It's a part of their Future Farmers of America Supervised Agricultural Experience.

"We get a lot of customers because we are much cheaper than the store," said Hall.

They manage more than 40-50 chickens - cleaning their coop, collecting the eggs, and washing them before and after school.

"That's like the main thing - keep(ing) everything clean, I think that's the hardest part because chickens are a little messy, and they are drama queens so we have to make sure they are happy and fed," Hall said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department says more than 43-million egg laying hens were lost last year because of the avian flu or depopulation --sharply increasing the cost of eggs -- if the supermarket shelves aren't bare.

Ag instructor Kristin Sheehan says this is unprecedented in her 23 years of teaching - a timely lesson for the students.

"They learn some business practices, they learn bio-security practices to keep the animals healthy, they learn veterinary practices, animal husbandry and management," Sheehan said.

Right now, their leghorn chickens lay white eggs, and the Rhode Island Reds lay brown eggs.

The students charge $5 for a dozen and $10 for a flat which is two and a half dozen. The money goes toward keeping production going and funding the FFA programs. Due to the high demand, they are evaluating if they should add more chickens to their flock.

"For me it's not about the money, it's about the experience, and we also have to evaluate do we have enough students to handle more chickens," Sheehan said.

Every Wednesday from 3 pm to 5 pm, the students sell their eggs at the school's MSHS Room 706, but you must make your reservations online, two weeks in advance. There's a limited supply.

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