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Background of Poultry Production in U.S.

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Backyard Operations

Source: J. Sell, Iowa State University

Chickens are the most numerous birds in the world. The chicken is believed to have been domesticated nearly 5000 years ago from wild birds in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, the domestication of the turkey occurred much more recently, by American Indians in prehistoric times. The turkey was introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century by returning Spanish explorers. Settlers emigrating to the U.S. who later bred this European stock with wild turkeys in the Eastern U.S. to produce the ancestors of today's commercially grown turkeys.

The poultry industry has largely grown from backyard operations which provided supplemental income for the family to a vertically integrated industry (PDF). (28 pp, 717K) Exit EPA Poultry consumption in the U.S. has increased from the 1900s, when chicken was eaten only on Sundays to making poultry an everyday item today.

Broiler Pounds Produced United States, 1971 - 2011

Value of Production: Broilers, Eggs, Turkeys, Chickens, and Total, United States 2001-2011

U.S. Poultry Inventory
Specie #/year lb
Broiler 8.6 billion 49.2 billion
Turkey 244 million 7.1 billion
Layers 339 million 91.4 billion eggs
Chickens 455 million N/A
per US Census 2010Exit EPA

Broiler production has been increasing since the 1980s due to Americans becoming more health conscious and through an unprecedented increase in exports. Part of this increase has also been attributed to the poultry industry supplying products that are further processed and easier for the consumer to prepare. These increases have led to an all time high in poultry production in the U.S. (Table). Currently, most poultry production in the United States is in the Southeastern states. Exit EPA

At one time, there were many distinct breeds of chicken, each having particular traits or characteristics. Through selective breeding, only a few strains of birds dominate the market today. There are many primary breeding companies of poultry, but only a handful are responsible for most of the broiler chicken, laying hen, and turkey production in the world.

Concentration and specialization of the poultry industry have led to the development of allied industries. These industries supply housing, feeding and other equipment, hatchery equipment, processing supplies and equipment, drugs and other health products, feed additives, and several other items.

Back to Poultry Menu

U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. Poultry & Eggs; Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. < http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/poultry-eggs.aspx#.UWWZ7JMX-w4>. Exit EPA

U.S. U.S. Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. < http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0877.pdf>. Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. Poultry & Eggs; Background. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/poultry-eggs/background.aspx#.UWWaCJMX-w4>. Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations 2012 Summary. N.p., Feb. 2013. Web. <http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FarmLandIn/FarmLandIn-02-19-2013.pdf>. Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2007 Census of Agriculture; Poultry and Egg Production. N.p., 24 May 2010. Web. < http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Online_Highlights/Fact_Sheets/Production/poultry_and_eggs.pdf>.Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Charts and Maps; Poultry. N.p. Web. < http://www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/Poultry/index.asp>. Exit EPA

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