LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Egg prices are more expensive than ever, and sometimes they aren’t even on the shelves, sending customers scrambling from one grocery store to the next — or even a local farm.

“Six and seven dollars for eggs, it’s just never been like that before,” shopper Vernita Lewis said in the parking lot of a Leavenworth, Kansas, supermarket.

Egg prices jumped 49% in the past year. That’s more than any other grocery category, according to the consumer price index.

Those prices are a wake-up call for some people — a wake-up call that actually does involve a rooster.

More people are looking beyond the typical supermarket and reaching out to local farms, not just because prices are competitive but also because eggs are, at times, more available.

At Jet Produce & Meats, they have about 1,000 laying hens.

“We’ve definitely seen our feed costs double in the last two years,” owner Jacob Thomas said.

At their shop in Leavenworth, they recently had to raise prices from $4 a dozen to $4.50 a dozen.

“So you can see that we’ve got a large variety of colors in our eggs,” Thomas said, opening a carton of their eggs that are mostly shades of brown but some blue.

“Primarily when you’re looking at these brown ones, you’re seeing a breed called cinnamon queen,” he said, looking out over his chickens.

Thomas said they have taken precautions against some the threats currently rocking the egg industry.

Mainly, their chickens live inside big buildings, reducing the chance that a wild bird could contaminate the chickens with avian flu. The illness has caused issues at larger farms, causing supply issues and headaches for customers.

“I love breakfast. That’s my main course,” Lewis said.

But Lewis said she’s had to adjust with the high egg prices. She’s not the only one.

“I buy a half a dozen because I don’t eat very many, and they’re $3.19 now. It’s ridiculous,” Linda Guenther, another shopper, said.

“I’m 61 and I’m a senior citizen, and it’s hard for me. Can you imagine people who have kids, how hard it is for them with a big family? I feel sorry for them,” Guenther said.

“I even went to several stores to look, and I seen that it was even higher at the next store, too. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness,'” Lewis said.

“Demand has been so high we’ve been doing that two or three times a day that we collect. We’re collecting them and then getting them graded and cartoned immediately,” Thomas said, back on the farm.

January, however, is the slow time for egg production with colder temperatures and shorter days lowering the number of eggs produced. So it’s been competitive to get eggs at Jet Produce & Meats just like it is at the grocery stores.

“That’s another thing. People see the shelves empty or mostly empty, and they start looking around. We live in a rural area, so maybe there’s some farmers around who have chickens,” Thomas said.