Becoming an Egg Farmer

All egg production in Alberta – whether you have one hen or a thousand hens – falls under the provincial Marketing of Agricultural Products Act and regulations, including Egg Farmers of Alberta Plan Regulation (258/97) and Egg Production and Marketing Regulation (293/97).

How many hens do you plan to have?

This number makes a difference.  In Alberta, any farmer with more than 300 birds must become a registered egg farmer (become a quota holder).  Farmers with 300 birds or less are exempt from registration.  However, if you want to take your eggs to a registered grading station, you must obtain an ‘Exemption Number’ from EFA.

How do I become a registered egg farmer?

Egg farmers with more than 300 birds must register with EFA.

Registered egg farmers must have quota, which can be purchased or leased by any Canadian.  Quota transactions are negotiated directly between the two interested parties.  EFA maintains a list of interested parties, to help link those wanting to buy or lease quota with those who have quota available for sale or lease.

Once quota has been secured, you must apply for a license from EFA.  To qualify for a license, egg farmers must operate in compliance with EFA’s requirements around on farm food safety and animal care.

EFA has also launched a New Entrant Program, which provides an opportunity for those new to the egg industry to access quota.

What if I want to be an unregistered small flock egg farmer?

If you raise less than 300 birds, you can operate as an unregistered egg farmer.  Unregistered producers do not require quota, nor are they required to register with EFA.

It is highly recommended that all unregistered egg farmers apply for a Premise Identification (PID) from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Can I be an unregistered small flock egg farmer in the city?

If you live in an urban center, you will need to consult the municipal by-laws to determine if you are allowed to raise chickens in the city, and how many.

Whether you are registered or unregistered egg farmer, whether you are in a rural or urban setting, raising egg laying hens is a significant responsibility.  EFA has developed two resources to help individuals and municipalities decide whether urban/backyard egg farming is right for them.  The Urban Hens Fact Sheet provides basic information and issues to consider, while the Urban Hens Top-Ten Chores outlines the major responsibilities that every egg farmer faces.

What is a Premise Identification (PID)?

Premise Identification (PID), one of the pillars of traceability, links livestock and poultry to land locations or premises.  Alberta’s PID Program was established to help protect animals in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or disease outbreak.  By completing a PID Application and keeping your information up-to-date, you will take an important first step in protecting your animals and those of other Alberta and Canadian producers.

If you have animals (excluding household pets and wildlife) and they are under your care and control, you must apply for a PID Account and obtain a PID Number for at least one of the land locations (or premises) where the animals are located.  If you are an operator of a commingling site (ie: fair ground, auction market, abattoir, etc…), you must apply for a PID Account and obtain a PID Number for each land location you operate a commingling site on.  You must also provide the PID Number of the commingling site to animal owners who use the site.

Please note that a PID Number is required to sell livestock and poultry at auction markets, to buy over-the-counter medication for livestock and poultry at retail outlets, and to apply for many Agriculture and Forestry grants.

Applying is easy – visit the PID Program website at www.agriculture.alberta.ca/premises to apply online or download the application form.  You can also learn more about the PID Program, including what information you’ll need to provide when applying and how to keep your information up-to-date, by reading the FAQs.  If you require assistance, please call the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276), or visit www.agriculture.alberta.ca/TraceabilityConnects to find a PID service provider nearby.

Traceability Protects!  Your animals – Your livelihood – Our future

Can I sell my eggs directly to the public instead of using a grading station?

Any egg farmer may sell ungraded eggs to anyone who will be consuming the eggs themselves (ie: to neighbours, at a farmers market, etc…).  If an egg farmer wants to sell eggs to someone who will not be consuming the eggs themselves (ie: to a restaurant, grocery store, bakery, hospital, or donation to a church/stampede breakfast, etc…), the eggs must be graded according to federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations.  In order to grade eggs, the grader must be licensed by CFIA.

Looking for more information about raising chickens in Alberta?

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has a website dedicated to poultry, which houses a wide variety of information about industry-related issues, including resources specifically about raising chickens in Alberta.

The Poultry Research Centre at the University of Alberta has also worked closely with the provincial egg industry, to develop a comprehensive resource about raising chickens, primarily for new farmers raising smaller flocks.