Background of Poultry Production in U.S.
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more about PDF, and for a link to the free Acrobat Reader.
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)
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.
|U.S. Poultry Inventory|
|Broiler||8.6 billion||49.2 billion|
|Turkey||244 million||7.1 billion|
|Layers||339 million||91.4 billion eggs|
|per US Census 2010|
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.
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.
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>.
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>.
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>.
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>.
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>.
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>.