According to the USDA Livestock, Poultry and Dairy Outlook June Report, the United States produces more pounds of chicken, 37.8 million (2013) to be exact, than any other meat. Add the layers with more than 6.8 million dozen eggs (2013), and you have a very large and concentrated industry.
Some background on the poultry business is helpful in understanding how your chicken and eggs are produced. This is a vertically integrated business, meaning companies control almost every point of production. (See the diagram below.) Poultry growers, or the people who raise chickens, can be contracted by a larger company, but it’s important to realize that the individual sites are usually operated by families. By owning and/or operating every point of the business, including breeding, growing broilers, raising layers (the chickens which lay the eggs), and the processing and packaging, a company can increase efficiencies and decrease costs.Through advances in research and technology, the business of raising chickens and turkeys has changed dramatically over time. See this video for an inside look at a primary breeder farm, one of the only parts of the poultry industry not included in the vertically integrated system. This farm focuses on producing females for broilers (the chicken we all eat) and males for breeding. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ7rrHYmFiQ)
I know many people question the poultry industry on the way they do certain things. However, one thing we can’t question is how much food they produce to feed people across the world. The turnaround on producing a broiler is under 14 weeks which means we can have a lot of chicken in a little amount of time.
When it comes to making meat, they ain’t no chicken… Get it? J
Your fill-in poultry “expert,”