By Peyton Roberts
Have you ever wondered why there are so many chickens on Guam, yet there is nowhere (that I know of) to purchase local cage-free eggs? This has remained one of Guam’s big mysteries since the very first time I had to swerve to avoid hitting chickens in the road. If you can’t have chickens without eggs, why are there so many chickens… and so few eggs? And why did that chicken cross the road?
Apparently I am not the only one who has spent some time pondering chickens. A few weeks ago I got an email from a Fresh Factor reader who wrote, “Do you know of someplace, a local farmer perhaps, where I could purchase fresh eggs? Any info you have would be appreciated!”
I had to write her back and say, no, I don’t know anyone who sells fresh eggs here. Strange, right?
My friend Mike has chickens. He is the only person I know on Guam who raises chickens. Mike tells lots of stories about his chickens. He talks about how they fight each other, how much noise they make, how they cuddle with each other. But what most impresses me is when Mike talks about his delicious daily breakfast of fresh eggs. “They just taste so darn good,” he tells me.
Must be nice, Mike. Must be nice.
Today Mike and I met for lunch. Mike showed up with a gift for me — a dozen fresh eggs from his chickens! You can imagine this little blogger was in Fresh Factor heaven at the very sight of them. “This one is just an hour old,” he said pointing to a light brown marbled shell in the middle of the pack. Well, it certainly doesn’t get much fresher than that!
Mike filled me in on some of the ins and outs of raising chickens for their eggs, and our conversation shed a lot of light on why more people aren’t out there selling eggs from all these chickens running around. Our Q&A went something like this (completely paraphrased):
FF: Why don’t more people on Guam sell eggs?
Mike: For one thing, feed is really expensive. It costs $22 for a 50lb. bag of feed, which lasts about three weeks. In the States it costs about half that. You end up paying as much for feed as you would for eggs at the store, but with a lot more work. The feed supplements the additional grass grazing. You can feed the chickens coconuts or let them eat solely by grazing, but the more well fed the chickens are, the better the eggs you get.
FF: Wow, that totally makes sense that people wouldn’t want to do all the work and not make any money. How many eggs do you get each day?
Mike: That depends on how happy the chickens are. I have 14 chickens. I usually get 7-8 eggs per day. There’s a gestation period of about 35 hours per egg, but it varies depending on a number of factors. There’s something about light that triggers the process, so if it’s cloudy for a few days I don’t get as many eggs.
FF: Wow – that’s fascinating!
Mike: But lately I’ve been getting 12-13 eggs a day, which is why I brought you these since our fridge is overflowing with eggs.
FF: Thanks! I feel so lucky! Have you ever considered selling eggs?
Mike: No because the amount of eggs I get each day is so varied. I do this as a hobby and because I like fresh eggs.
FF: Well I have had a handful of people ask me where they can buy fresh local eggs. Would you be willing to start collecting phone numbers of people who are interested buying your eggs?
Mike: Sure, I hadn’t thought about it. But selling the extras would help cut down on the food costs for the chickens. And it would free up some space in our refrigerator.
There we have it, Guam! I found someone who is willing to sell you fresh local eggs. If you are interested in getting on Mike’s phone list to receive fresh eggs every once in a while, send me an email at peytsisland (at) gmail (dot) com with your name and phone number. I will give the list to Mike and if you are lucky, you may just get a phone call and you too can indulge in the fabulous freshness during the most important meal of the day.
If you know anyone else who sells fresh eggs on Guam, please add their info to the comments section below.
Peyton Roberts is a military spouse who moved to Guam from the States in July 2010. She started her blog, Peyt’s Island, as a way to keep friends and family informed about what island life is like. Over time, that space transformed into a forum for writing about her experiences discovering Guam’s beauty, and more recently its flavors. Peyton loves all Guam adventures, whether land or sea, and has a passion for sharing ideas about incorporating local produce into regular family cooking. At the Fresh Factor, Peyton shares recipes, interviews, and information about all things fresh on Guam.