Extension - Commercial Poultry Operations
NEWS UPDATE: USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial broiler flock in Fulton County, Kentucky. A commercial flock of turkeys has also been confirmed with HPAI in Webster County. In addition, 2 dead snow geese tested positive in Ballard County, 4 hunter-harvested gadwalls tested positive in Henderson County and 4 live mallards tested positive in Meade County.
Anyone involved with poultry production from the small backyard to the large commercial producer should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds. APHIS has materials about biosecurity, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/defend-the-flock-program/dtf-resources/dtf-resources.
In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at USDA APHIS | Avian Health.
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 had 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 also uses 29% of Kentucky's corn crop and 32% of its soybean crop. Kentucky's grain farmers realize a 10-15 cents per bushel premium from poultry giving them 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, the Kentucky 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 continues 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 quarterly newsletter (Cheeps and Chirps)
- a poultry production manual covering a wide range of topics