Brothers in the egg market
MILFORD – A red dirt bike is parked next to a seed shed. The bike belongs to three Milford brothers who pooled their dollars from picking up rock, birthday money and sales of eggs from their laying hens.
The Bockman brothers – Jacob, 13; Jesse, 11; and Sam, 7 – said they entered into their egg business seven months ago so they could earn college money and cash for things like that dirt bike.
“There are so many people who are not willing to work,” said their mother, Melissa Bockman. “We wanted to teach them that if they want something, they have to work for it.
“We hope this experience will make them good business people or good employees someday.”
The brothers were staying with their across-the-road neighbor, Scott Wintz, one evening while their parents were away.
They saw an old chicken coop there and asked Wintz if they could clean it out, fix it up and put some chickens in it. He agreed and today the brothers – with Wintz’s help- care for 69 laying hens.
The brothers tend to the coop chores every Tuesday, Thursday and weekends feeding, watering and collecting eggs.
Wintz does the chores on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so the brothers can join school and community events.
The brothers collect about 60 eggs daily, keeping the cracked ones, disposing of broken ones and selling the others.
“We collect around 232 eggs a week,” said Bockman as he worked his calculator. “Scott (Wintz) usually gets about 174 (on the days he collects eggs), so together, we collect 406 eggs a week.
“That comes to about 21,000 eggs a year.”
Eggs are sold to neighbors, friends and family. They sell for $1.75 per dozen, and the brothers conference occasionally about profit margins and who will be doing each chore job.
Melissa Bockman purchases the feed, and the brothers keep the cash for the egg sales.
“It was hard for them at first because there was really no income-we ate the eggs we got,” she said. She added that as the flock grew and egg production increased, sales began.
She keeps the egg money together for them. When it’s time they get the cash out, and she has her sons count it all and divide it among themselves. Pay day.
“Our feed costs $12 a bag, and we mix that with ground corn. We go through two bags of chicken feed a week,” said Jesse Bockman.
Jacob Bockman said they’re able to make more money if they don’t pay for the feed themselves, and that most people will pay $2 per dozen just because they know the kids are doing the work.”
Melissa Bockman said she helps them keep track of what they save for college, what they can save for shorter-term goals and what they can spend.
She said her sons have to do the marketing and have the conversations with people purchasing the eggs because she thinks it’s important for them to know how to talk to people and conduct serious business conversations.
Daily chores also includes cleaning the coop and washing eggs. They have learned that eggs are fragile and need to be washed carefully.
“I had a friend help me one time, but he kept breaking the eggs. I said he couldn’t do it anymore,” said Jesse Bockman.
He said that decision was all about profit and loss.
The Bockman brothers’ poultry knowledge has grown.
Jesse Bockman said younger chickens lay larger eggs, and that eggs with triple yolks happen in one in 20,000 eggs.
He said a chicken won’t lay as many eggs if there is no light source available – so they use heat lamps during dark winter months.
He said if temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees, it takes four months for a chicken to produce and lay an egg. He said they also learned the hard way that chickens are capable of opening the door to the coop and venturing into the yard.
Their chicken coop is split into half so younger chickens could be separated.
“Otherwise, the older ones will peck them to death,” he said.
They said they’ve learned other things as well.
“I like taking care of (all kinds of) animals,” said Jacob Bockman, who helps their father, Dan, care for cattle.
Sam Bockman said he just likes doing the work for the chickens, playing with the baby chickens and eating some of the eggs they collect.
He said he has learned that each chicken lays a lot of eggs.
Jesse Bockman said he learned how eggs mature inside a chicken and how long it takes for the egg to mature enough to have a hard shell. He also didn’t know eggs could have triple yolks, and learned quickly to cover his hands when reaching inside the nesting hole to gather eggs.
He said a chicken once laid an egg in mid-air as he went to scoop her out of the nest.
All three of the Bockman brothers are involved in sports and 4-H and help their parents on the farm and with their mother’s seed corn/soybean seed business.
Helping their parents is something they’ve always done, but they’re especially locked into it now.
“Mom and Dad paid (for some of our dirt bike), so we have to work for them to pay it off now,” said Bockman.
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