SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Strain says egg prices rose sharply over the holidays as demand increased. Since then, it has lowered slightly, but not by much.
He says due to inflation, the cost of feed, fertilizer, diesel fuel needed for transporting products, and the cost of keeping chicken coops heated have all driven up the price of eggs, and they will remain high unless conditions improve.
Dr. Strain says the resurgence of Avian Flu has damaged chicken farms’ ability to provide eggs to stores nationwide. According to the CDC, approximately 57 million birds have been affected since the beginning of Jan. 2022.
Poultry farmers have taken steps to curb the number of cases, including slaughtering flocks to prevent the spread or vaccinating them against the virus. Strain says although he agrees that vaccination is effective, poultry farmers in Louisiana risk large purchasers refusing to buy their products if they vaccinate their flocks. However, he says the cases of Avian Flu in Louisiana have been low.
The majority of egg production in Louisiana takes place in southern Louisiana, with poultry farms providing meat primarily in the state’s northern region. Luckily, Louisiana has the least number of affected flocks in the United States, according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Their report says Louisiana is the only state to have zero affected flocks in the last three months.
Infrastructure continues to be a challenge in transporting eggs for sale. Dr. Strain says the funding approved by Congress for infrastructure improvement should help lower prices. “We have these 30 to 40-year-old bridges that need to be replaced.”
He says the warm winter has helped with the cost of heating chicken coups, which accounts for the slight decline in prices over the last month. Supply and demand will also help lower the prices a bit, he says. As the demand drops due to the high prices, he expects the market to correct itself to compensate.
According to the USDA, current asking prices in the south-central region are 60 cents lower than last week’s for extra-large eggs. Brookshire’s Grocery currently offers one dozen extra large eggs at $5.49. A dozen extra large eggs at Kroger is currently $3.99. Mahaffey Farms, a family farm located in Haughton, La., has fresh eggs available for $7.99 a dozen.
However, Dr. Strain expects prices to rise as much as $1 per dozen as the Easter holiday nears. According to Dr. Strain, other factors that may increase prices include the rising costs of soy and wheat. Both crops are widely used in chicken feed. He says, above all, transportation costs need to come back down before the price of eggs drops significantly drops.
Dr. Strain encourages Louisianans to buy from local poultry farms. He also says the interest in raising backyard flocks has risen significantly as the cost of eggs continues to increase.
The LSU Ag Center offers valuable information to those looking to start their own flock safely, build a poultry house, and more. Last week they released instructional videos on protecting your flock, special considerations before you start, and the benefits of raising backyard chickens.