Extreme Egg Prices

Egg Prices

Egg-flation: The Rising Cost of Eggs

It’s no secret that inflation is a global problem across many industries following the pandemic, but to many consumers’ surprise, the average cost of a dozen eggs in the U.S. is $4.25 – more than double the cost from a year ago! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, prices rose 59% in December 2022. That’s the highest year-over-year price jump for food products. Learn about what’s to blame and what some folks are considering to solve the problem right in their own backyard.

Why are Eggs So Expensive?!

The startling jump – and what’s keeping prices high – stems from the spread of avian flu. Also known as bird flu, this virus outbreak has led to more than 40 million culled hens in the U.S. (and more than 57 million animals total) as an attempt to keep the virus from spreading. This means the availability of chickens and turkeys that were raised to produce eggs and/or meat decreased. When supply decreases but demand doesn’t, the price naturally goes up. Experts believe this outbreak will continue for months to come because more wild birds are affected this time. As they migrate, so does the virus. In other words: we should get used to this higher price tag.

The History of Bird Flu

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has impacted farm flocks across 47 states since February 2022 in what has become the deadliest U.S. bird flu outbreak in history. The last major outbreak occurred in 2014-15 with another 50 million dead birds. The difference this time is that the outbreak outlived the summer and surged again in the fall (thanks in part to those migratory wild birds we mentioned earlier).

This bird flu originated in 1878 as “fowl plague” in Italy, bringing high mortality rates with it. This spread around Europe for several decades but the first outbreak in the U.S. wasn’t until 1924-1925, when it left a significant loss on the live bird markets in New York City. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic known as swine flu actually contained a unique combination of influenza A from swine, avian and human genes.

Chicken Coop

Are Backyard Chickens the Solution?

With poultry suppliers in a bird-flu bind, some people are considering raising backyard chickens. While it sounds like a straightforward way to solve the supply chain problems, there are many considerations that go into raising chickens. Especially for folks who have never done so before.

Pros and Cons of Raising Chickens

As with any investment, there are pros and cons to the backyard chicken endeavor. Have you considered both sides of this coin?


  • a steady supply of eggs
  • fresher eggs vs. store-bought
  • chickens assist with gardening by eliminating insect pests
  • chicken poop can be composted and used in the garden
  • entertainment in your own yard
  • potential for secondary income stream with extra eggs


  • takes about 5 months for a hen to lay it's first egg 
  • egg production slows after first two years of life
  • an extensive time commitment
  • start-up costs for building a coop and fencing outdoor space
  • year-round manure, but not year-round eggs
  • the strong odor of chicken poop
  • livestock feed is an ongoing expense

Getting a Coop Started

Before you do anything, check with your local ordinances to be sure it’s legal to keep chickens in your yard. They may have a limit on how many you can have at one time. And speaking of time, make sure you understand the responsibility involved in raising these animals – it is a time commitment that people don’t always fully understand because the animals are outside the home.

Backyard Coop Equipment Needs

Once you know how many animals you can have in the yard, assess the yard space where you plan to keep them. Chickens need both a coop (or house) and outdoor space. Room to run around helps them avoid boredom and bullying behaviors like pecking at each other. Plan to allocate about 10 square feet of outdoor space per chicken. So for six chickens, that’s a 6’ x 10’ space. Find a strong, small-mesh fence and bury it at least six inches underground for security.

A coop also needs to be sturdy enough to protect the flock from predators and the elements. Also make sure it gives the animals enough ventilation to regulate their temperatures during the heat of the summer. Include at least one nesting box for every three hens and a roost for them to sleep on. 

Beyond equipment, there’s lots of research to look into regarding age and breed of chickens, feeding strategies, bedding, and more. Spend the time educating yourself before you dive into raising chickens – for your own sake and theirs.

PBS Animal Health is Your Top Pick for Poultry Products

Whether you’re already raising chickens, or your backyard chicken plan is just starting to hatch, PBS Animal Health has many of the products you – and your chickens – need. Check out our poultry category page to help you get started or to keep you going. You’ll find feeders, heat lamps, supplements, disinfectants and so much more.

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