AMY BICKEL

The Hutchinson News via Associated Press

YODER, Kan. (AP) -- Anna Borntrager watched as her 100 laying chickens meandered across a fresh bed of yellow straw in her small barn near Yoder, where, for decades, the Amish woman has supplied fresh eggs to the public from a small variety store on her farm.

But, she admits, the nearly 600 eggs she gathers each week aren't enough to meet the current demand.

It is the same scenario for many of the state's producers who supply the public with farm-fresh eggs from backyard and small farm flocks. The same salmonella outbreak that may have scared some consumers away from grocery store egg shelves has boosted business for egg producers like Borntrager.

"I could sell more eggs if I had more eggs to sell," Borntrager said, noting demand for local eggs had begun to increase before the outbreak.

Eating eggs is commonplace in a country that produces more than 75 billion eggs a year, according to the American Egg Board. However, in mid-August two Iowa egg companies, including one that distributes to Kansas, announced a recall after more than 1,300 people were sickened from consuming tainted eggs.

Now, farmers across the state with small flocks may be benefiting somewhat from the more than half billion eggs recalled, said Scott Beyer, an associate professor at Kansas State University who specializes in poultry management.

The uptick in egg sales, however, has been growing, thanks to a locally grown movement that has spread across America, he said.

"I wanted to see (the increase) when we started having issues in the economy," Beyer said, noting some Americans began starting backyard flocks and growing gardens. "There were a lot of people becoming part of the 'locavore' thing, wanting to see food production in action."

With supplies tighter, prices have increased a little, he said. At local Dillons stores, prices ranged from $1.66 to $2 a dozen.

Borntrager, whose farmstead is on Red Rock Road about a mile east of Yoder, sells her eggs for $1.50 a dozen, but, of course, her supplies are tighter as well. She already supplies a few local restaurants with eggs, including one vendor who purchases 30 to 40 dozen eggs a few times a month.

Yet she wonders how long the increase will last. At present, she is gathering about 75 eggs a day, noting it is a slower time of the year as well. However, there are some times of the year where she has more eggs than she needs and other times she can't keep up.

Meanwhile, Elsie Keim, who also sells fresh eggs from her free-range chickens on her farm off Red Rock Road west of Yoder, also said she has noticed a spike in sales after the recall announcement.

Currently, Keim is raising 800 pullets to sell to backyard growers and others, as well as 150 layers, with 600 baby chicks coming to the farm this fall.

"I don't have enough for everybody," she said of supplying her demand, noting she also sells her eggs through Kansas Station in Yoder.

"Demand is still growing."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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