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The global poultry industry has continued to grow over the past several decades due to the efficiency and adaptability through genetics, nutrition, health, and management which is all ultimately driven by constantly increasing demand. The broiler industry not only provides lean and cost-effective protein but also provides jobs and is a large contributor to the global agriculture industry.

 What are Broilers?

The United States Department of Agriculture classifies broiler poultry as “a chicken younger than 10 weeks old (previously younger than 13 weeks), of either sex, that is tender-meated with soft, pliable, smooth-textured skin and flexible breastbone cartilage” (Cochran, 2017). Chicken’s (Gallus domesticus) are a type of domesticated fowl, descendants of Red jungle fowl which originated in Southeastern Asia (PennState Extension, 2011). Countries across the globe raise broiler birds for meat consumption. When it comes to production, most birds around the world are grown in commercial houses; however, some individuals raise broilers in their backyards as another food resource for their families. Broilers can be found on all continents except Antarctica.

Around the World

Globally, the United States is the leading producer of poultry meat followed by Brazil, and China. Although the world’s broiler sector has many advantages, some challenges come along with it, such as increasing consumer concerns on animal welfare, food safety, product quality, and environmental issues (Chang, 2007). Continuing innovation on both economic and ethical production methods will need to continue to help combat these challenges. Because feed costs make up about 70% of the total cost of poultry production systems, countries that have access to cheap feeds have the advantage. This is how the United States and Brazil are the world’s two largest and most efficient broiler producers because they are major grain producers. This advantage cuts down on the price point without having to import grain or other feed products from other countries. Advanced technology also plays a part in creating efficiency, making these two factors an influence on how developing countries can produce. Developing countries do not have the same access to advanced technology or grain as the powerhouse producers. In recent decades, the global consumption, production, and trade of poultry meat have grown faster than any other meat. This sector of agriculture is expected to continue to grow because poultry meat is more versatile, cheaper, and potentially provides more health benefits than do other meats. Overall, the world broiler market is affected by the availability of resources, consumer preferences, and government policy (Chang, 2017).

United States

The United States is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of poultry meat, as Americans consume more poultry than any other meat. Georgia is the leading broiler-producing state followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi. Broiler production is mainly concentrated in the eastern part of the country due to climates that favor production. Over the 2010-2019 period, broiler production in the United States grew by 19% (USDA ERS, 2021).  In 2020 there were approximately 9.22 billion broilers raised in the United States on 32,751 farms, for a total of more than 45 billion pounds of ready-to-cook chicken marketed (USDA NASS, 2017). Most broiler farms in the United States fall into two categories of the number of birds raised: 1-1,999 and 100,000 or more. In recent decades, poultry meat consumption has increased, potentially due to the favorable prices and health recommendations. Looking at these trends, we will continue to see a rise in poultry consumption, especially as our population grows. Not only are broiler farms a vital source of protein for the country, but they also provide jobs for many people. There are approximately 409,000 workers directly employed and 1.6 million indirectly employed (National Chicken Council, 2021). These indirect employees may be workers in processing plants, feed mills, transportation, hatcheries, and other jobs that keep broiler production moving forward. The broiler sector is a major user of feed grains, such that more than 1.4 billion bushels of corn and 580 million bushels of soybean were used for broiler and breeder feed in 2020 (National Chicken Council, 2021). This goes back again to the availability of feed grains and what the United States has at its disposal.

Poultry production overall has been on the rise over the past decades and will continue this trend moving forward. Broilers are an integral part in that, providing a protein source for billions of people across the world. The next time you sit down at your table to enjoy your favorite chicken dish, think about this sector of the agriculture industry that allows you that opportunity. What is your go-to way to enjoy what the poultry industry has to offer?

References:

 Chang, H.-S. (2007). Overview of the World Broiler Industry: Implications for the Philippines. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development4(2), 67–82. https://doi.org/10.22004/ag.econ.166013

 Cochran, C. (2017). Poultry Classifications Get a 21st Century Upgrade. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/11/17/poultry-classifications-get-21st-century-upgrade

 National Chicken Council. (2021). Broiler Chicken Industry Key Facts 2020. National Chicken Council. https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/statistic/broiler-industry-key-facts/

 PennState Extension. (2011). History of the Chicken. PennState Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/history-of-the-chicken

 USDA ERS. (2021). Poultry Sector at a Glance. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/poultry-eggs/sector-at-a-glance/

 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. (2017). Census of Agriculture. Retrieved from www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.

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