Becoming an Egg Farmer
Every Albertan has the opportunity to become an egg farmer. Whether you want to manage a commercial egg operation or become a backyard hobby farmer, there are some questions you need to answer and a lot of information you need to be aware of. Egg Farmers of Alberta works closely with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to oversee the provincial egg industry.
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 and become a quota holder. Farmers with 300 birds or less are exempt from registration and quota. 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. One (1) unit of quota is equal to one (1) egg laying hen.
EFA launched the provincial Quota Exchange Program in 2019, which was designed to ensure equal access to quota sales and transfers, with optimal accessibility and transparency to egg quota transactions in Alberta. If you are interested in buying quota, please review and submit a completed Application to Purchase.
EFA has also launched a New Entrant Program, which provides an opportunity for those new to the egg industry to access quota.
Alternatively, you may purchase a farm that currently has quota allotted.
All registered egg farmers are required to apply for a Premise Identification (PID) from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
You can contact EFA and request a visit from one of EFA’s Field Inspectors, to review all the requirements to become a registered egg farmers, as well as the various requirements and regulations that registered egg farmers must adhere to, in order to maintain their license to sell eggs in Alberta.
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.
All unregistered egg farmers are required to 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) to find a PID service provider nearby.
Traceability Protects! Your animals – Your livelihood – Our future
As an unregistered producer, can I sell my eggs to a grading station?
In order to sell your unregistered eggs to a grading station, an egg farmer needs an exemption number from EFA, which is a provincial regulatory requirement. This helps the grading station and the egg industry track your egg shipments. It is ultimately up to each grading station to decide whether or not they want to buy eggs from unregistered egg farmers.
For each dozen eggs shipped to the grading station, levy will be deducted from the farm’s payment and remitted to EFA. This levy is consistent with the levy paid by registered egg farmers.
As an unregistered producer, 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.
Ungraded eggs must be packed in clear cartons that are marked as “uninspected”, in letters that are at least 2 cm tall. The eggs themselves must be clean, have no visible cracks, must not be leaking, and must be kept at a temperature of 7°C or less until they leave the farmer’s possession.
As an unregistered producer, can I grade my own eggs, or eggs from another unregistered producer?
Any egg farmer may obtain their own CFIA grading license, which enables them to grade their own eggs and/or eggs from another producer. Please contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency directly to learn more.
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 and raising small flocks in Alberta