Extension - Commercial Poultry Operations
Poultry is Kentucky's number 1 agricultural commodity as well as the number 1 food commodity. Kentucky's chicken meat production (broiler industry) ranks 8th nationally. As a result, the poultry industry has a major impact on Kentucky's economy. Poultry is a $900 million dollar industry and each year pays out over $130 million in salaries and over $91 million in payments to contract growers. Kentucky's poultry industry aslo uses 29% of Kentucky corn crop and 32% of its soybean crop. Kentucky's grain farmers realize a 10-15 cents per bushel premium from poultry giving htem a $10-15 million bonus for their grain.
There are over 850 poultry farms in 42 counties in Kentucky. The average poultry farm is owned and managed by a family farmer and consists of less than 5 houses. Over 50% of Kentucky poultry farmers are or were tobacco farmers. As the income from tobacco decreased farmers included poultry production to diversify their income.
The poultry industry has made large investments in infrastructure in the state including 5 broiler hatcheries, 2
primary breeder hatcheries, 6 feed mills, 4 processing plants, 3 egg production complexes, a rendering plant and 850 poultry farms with 2,800 houses. Kentucky also serves processing plants in the neighboring states of Tennessee and Indiana.
With funding from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, theKentucky Poultry Federation and the University of Kentucky have been involved in a project to help the poultry industry reduce the amount of energy used in broiler production. Today energy bills are one of the major expenditures a poultry producer has. It is estimated that the average utility bill for a poultry house is $700 a month. As the price of propane contrinues to increase, production costs will also continue to increase, negatively affecting the economic sustainability of poultry producers. The project was developed to address this concern.
The project includes:
- a project website
- a quarterly newsletter (Cheeps and Chirps)
- a poultry production manualcovering a wide range of topics