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Selling Backyard Chicken Eggs / Backyard Henhouse Eggs in New Hampshire

There is no state license required to sell shell eggs in NH, providing the farm has fewer than 3,000 laying hens.

Carton labels must state the grade, size, or the term “Not Sized,” and the word “Fresh.” A “Sell By” date/code is not required. FDA and some local health officials, require that eggs held for retail sale must be refrigerated at a temperature less than 45 °F. This temperature must be maintained during storage, transportation, and at the point of sale. We recommend that cartons of eggs be stored in a cooler containing ice packs when being transported to and from markets and when being sold at the market. We discourage displaying a full carton of eggs out on a table, or on top of a cooler, as some vendors like to do to advertise that they're offering eggs for sale. An empty carton may be used for this purpose. The price must be clearly displayed.

Chapter 428: Poultry and Poultry Products
Guidelines for Selling Shell Eggs



  • Small-scale producers and sellers of eggs in New Hampshire are those with 3,000 laying hens or fewer and those selling eggs within the state of New Hampshire only (not across any state lines).
  • Egg producers who do not meet those criteria may be subject to additional legal requirements
  • " An “egg handler” means a person engaged in the business of producing, grading, packing, or otherwise preparing shell eggs or pasteurized in-shell eggs for market. This also includes those who engage in the operation of selling or marketing eggs that they have produced, purchased, or acquired from a producer, or which he or she is marketing on behalf of a producer, whether as owner, agent, employee, or otherwise.
  • Any person engaged in business of egg producing or egg handling must register with the New Hampshire Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Egg Storage & Handling Requirements

  • Generally, in order to produce and sell eggs, the eggs must be kept at a temperature of 45°F or lower even during transportation. Transport vehicles may exceed the 45°F maximum temperature required when eggs are being loaded or unloaded from the vehicle but even there, safe handling practices expect that precautions will be taken to not siubject the eggs to higher temperatures for long.

Federal Requirements

  • The Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. Chapter 15) authorizes the USDA to inspect eggs and egg products and establish standards for uniformity of eggs. Under the USDA, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulate eggs.
    However, these requirements only apply to eggs shipped in interstate and intrastate commerce, and it has exemptions for small producers. AMS exempts egg producers from the restrictions and inspections if
    they sell eggs from their own flocks directly to consumers via door-to-door sales or at a place of business away from the site of production and
    they sell fewer than 30 dozen eggs per sale (7 C.F.R. § 57.100(c)).  
    The producer must also own and operate the business and transport the eggs him or herself, and the eggs must meet the standards for U.S. Consumer Grade B shell eggs. (Id.)
    Producers with fewer than 3,000 hens, producers selling directly to household consumers, and egg packers selling on site directly to consumers are also exempt from AMS's regulations (7 C.F.R. § 57.100(d)-(f)).
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) (21 U.S.C. § 341), issues and enforces standards of identity for egg products and requires shell egg producers to implement measures to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). The FDCA only applies to eggs shipped in interstate commerce (outside of your state).
  • Basically, if you have over 3,000 laying hens you must comply with US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Egg Safety Rule

Additional New Hampshire State Resources


  1. How many chickens do you have?
  2. Who are your customers (end user, institutions, processors)?
  3.  Where will your sales take place (on or off the premises)?
     On farm sales have fewer regulations, but limit available customers.
    Flock size can impact which regulations apply.
  4.  If you plan to sell off the farm:
    Do you have the capacity to grade, candle, and inspect your eggs?
    Have you figured out how to package and transport the eggs?
    Are you responsible for keeping track of and remitting any fees? If so, what is your record keeping system?
  5.  Have you obtained the appropriate licenses? You may want to check with local health
    departments in addition to GDA to see if they require other licenses, such as retailers'

FAQs - Q & A

These are answers to egg selling questions published by the State of New Hampshire

  1. Do I need a license to sell fresh shell eggs?
    No, there is no state license required from the NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets & Food (NHDAMF) or the NH Dept. of Health & Human Services (NHDHHS). However, farms with more than 3,000 laying hens are required to register under the USDA's Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA). Farms with more than 3,000 birds should contact NHDAMF.
  2. What information needs to be on the carton?
    NH does have requirements for the labeling of eggs, promulgated under RSA 428:22-30, which provides grade standards for eggs by incorporating those established by USDA. The USDA Grades are as follows: US Grade AA, US Grade A, and US Grade B. (a summary of the USDA grades is on the back) Each carton needs to plainly and conspicuously state the word “fresh,” provided the eggs meet the Grade A standard. The US Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) Fair Packaging Act requires that consumer product labels state the identity of the product, the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor, and the net quantity of contents. Does the size need to be stated on the label? All eggs that are offered for sale shall be labeled with a weight class statement, or with the term “Not Sized.” The official weight classes per dozen are as follows:
    Size Minimum Net Weight*
    Jumbo……………..30 ounces
    Extra Large…........27 ounces
    Large………………24 ounces
    Medium……………21 ounces
    Small………………18 ounces
    *per dozen eggs minus weight of carton
  3. Do eggs need to be candled?
    No, although candling is the most effective way of determining interior quality it is not required.
  4. Do eggs need to be washed?
    If so, what is the recommended protocol? Eggs must be clean. It is recommended that eggs be washed or cleaned. After collection, try to keep the temperature of the eggs relatively constant until washed. Washing should be performed as soon as possible. Eggs can be washed in warm running water. A mild detergent approved for washing eggs may be used for extremely dirty eggs. Cool and dry eggs quickly after washing. Eggs may also be wiped with a clean cloth or abrasive type material to remove any adhering dirt or fecal matter. Never let eggs sit in water.
  5. Can I reuse cartons?
    Although the NH Fresh Egg Law does not deal with cartons, local health jurisdictions may require only new cartons to be used. In any case, cartons should be clean and not contain any markings that are not truthful and accurate.
  6. Do I need to state a “Sell By” date or code?
    No, however; to facilitate stock rotation, it is important that this type of code be on the carton. Eggs stored in cartons at a stable temperature should maintain Grade A quality for at least four weeks from production.
  7. Do eggs need to be kept refrigerated?
    Yes. FDA and local health officials require that shell eggs held for retail sale must be refrigerated at a temperature less than 45o F. This temperature must be maintained during storage, transportation and at the point of sale. If eggs are to be sold at a farmers market or farm stand it is recommended that the product be kept in a cooler packed with ice. An empty carton may be held out for display purposes. At no time should eggs be frozen.
  8. Is there any concern when storing eggs with other foods?
    Yes. Care should be taken when storing eggs with strong smelling foods. Both the yolk and albumen tend to take up flavors and odors of surrounding food items or the environment.
  9. Do these requirements pertain to duck and goose eggs as well?
    No. The NH Fresh Egg Law and the US standards for quality of individual shell eggs shall be applicable only to eggs of the domesticated chicken that are in the shell.

Additional Resources




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