Stanton Bros. Eggs

Dustin and Austin Stanton have more than a dream, they have a vision. Their aspirations for tomorrow and beyond probably differ a bit from others, at least in that they generally don’t involve a beach house or yacht. Even if they did have dreams of oceanfront living, there would most certainly need to be room for more than 8,000 chickens because the brothers don’t venture too far from their brood at home.

The brothers are the owners behind Stanton Brothers Eggs, a family operation in Centralia producing thousands of high-quality, free-range eggs for Missourians to enjoy. In addition to raising cattle and growing soybeans and sorghum, the Stanton family ventured into poultry about 15 years ago with six baby Cornish hens for then-firstgrader Dustin. Caring for them became one of his first jobs on the family farm.

“It was a way for me to learn responsibility and earn an allowance,” Dustin says. “Over the years, I began raising more hens, and Austin jumped in to help, too. The hens provided more eggs than we needed for our family, so we decided to sell them.”

With help from his parents, Andrew and Judy, and little brother Austin, Dustin’s interest in chickens expanded from a hobby into a small business. Stanton Brothers Eggs now supplies area grocery stores and restaurants, in addition to selling directly to their friends and neighbors in Centralia.

Growing the business means the Stantons had to learn about packaging, transporting and marketing their eggs to meet Missouri’s standards for quality and food safety. Today, Dustin and Austin are among Missouri’s more than 5,200 licensed egg dealers and retailers.

Dustin’s interest in raising poultry and the small business he developed with his family were a great part of his high school experience in the National FFA Organization. While many of his peers were exploring livestock production, ag marketing and plant science, Dustin was expanding his operation by selling his homegrown eggs in surrounding communities. Through his high school agriculture courses and projects, he learned about caring for the birds as well as what he needed to do to sell the many eggs his hens laid.

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In addition to the guidance and encouragement he found within his home chapter, Centralia FFA, Dustin and his younger brother Austin found a network of other producers at local farmers markets. Through visits to many area farmers markets, they noticed there was nowhere someone could purchase farm fresh eggs to accompany their homemade bread, fresh tomatoes and a variety of vegetables along with other Missouri made products. Before long, they set up a stand at the Columbia Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

Stanton Bros. Eggs

As business expanded, the brothers faced many new challenges including managing the responsibilities that grew as quickly as their brood. There is a lot to take care of on a chicken farm, especially when the birds are in addition to raising cattle, and growing soybeans and sorghum, as the Stanton family does on their diversified farm. And like many of Missouri’s more than 100,000 family farms, the family is committed to caring for their livestock and land.

The Stantons, including parents Andrew and Judy, are involved with raising their high-quality birds and eggs, controlling the quality of their product from start to finish, using their homegrown and nongenetically modified row crops to provide feed for the chickens, and continuing to improve their facilities on the farm.

“We started with an old chicken coop, and then we converted one of our cattle and hog barns,” Dustin says. “Now we’re in the process of building a 40- by 200-foot barn because the chickens need to be inside when it rains or gets cold.” When the brothers are finished feeding and watering the hens, gathering, washing and boxing the eggs, they grind feed. And when all those jobs are done, they work on building their barn.

Recently, Dustin began studying agricultural business management at the University of Missouri in Columbia, a half-hour drive from the farm. While Austin was already involved with the business, now that Dustin is in college the two brothers really began dividing responsibilities and tending the areas that better suit each of them.

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They learned quickly that time management is critical for their longterm success. With the skills Dustin acquired at home, through FFA and at the University of Missouri, he is able to manage the finances and network with other businesses to build relationships and generate sales. Austin prefers to focus most of his attention on caring for the hens and addressing maintenance and other various tasks around the farm.

“The business is a way for me and Austin to get our start in farming and to help pay for our college education without going into debt,” Dustin says. “We want to be able to have families and make a living on the farm. This is an avenue for us to do that.”

Stanton Bros. Eggs

The Stanton brothers are one of many examples of young people who want to return to family farms throughout Missouri after receiving their education and are willing to diversify their operations to make that lifestyle possible. From adding eggs to a cattle and row-crop operation as the Stantons did to incorporating specialty crops like blueberries or opening the farm to agritourism, Missouri’s farm youth have a wealth of opportunities ahead of them.

As Dustin and Austin grew their operation from a small flock of hens into a successful business with a presence in cafeterias at the University of Missouri and Columbia College and in the egg cases at many grocery stores, including Hy-Vee, Patricia’s, Clover’s and Natural Grocers, as well as Prenger Foods in Centralia, the brothers now help others do the same by sharing their story and encouraging others to take the leap into starting their own business.

So, the next time you pick up a package of Missouri eggs, whether from the Stantons or one of Missouri’s other family farms and agribusinesses, know that there is a healthy dose of hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence included with your farm-fresh choice.


  1. Fantastic story of success! A great job of increasing and applying your knowledge for growth and overcoming obstacles. We wish the best to you!

    Earlville Chickens dot com.

  2. We are very conscious of genic altered farm products and we like to be able to purchase your eggs. We shop Sedalia and Warsaw. Can we find your eggs in this area. Your story is good for all. Thank you Central Missouri Electric Coop.

  3. Will be in Columbia next week for Univ. Missouri Extension conference. Would be interested in a tour of your fantastic chicken and egg farm if we have time.

  4. Very interesting story, and I commend you for your great work. Am wondering what kind of chickens you raise. Thanks


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