If you are a chicken fan, then Iowa is the place to go, as this is the state that produces the most chickens out of all the US states.
I found it quite mind-boggling that one state could raise so many millions of chickens. Curious about just how it’s done, I set off to investigate the Iowa chicken production network.
Iowa, among other states, is one of the top producers of broiler meat, eggs, pullets, or day-old chicks. Between Iowa and other states, several millions of pounds of meat are produced.
Stats and Facts on What State Produces the Most Chickens
The state that produces the most chickens is Iowa, followed closely by Ohio and Indiana. Not only does Iowa produce loads of broiler chickens, but it also contributes significantly to the egg production of the US.
Here are a few interesting facts.
According to Stats for 2021, the Highest Number of Chickens Are Produced in Iowa (USDA)
Iowa state produces a huge number of chickens, just over 60 million chickens in 2021, according to USDA. Not only does Iowa produce a large number of broiler chickens, but it also yields a huge percentage of the overall crop of eggs in the US.
The whole state’s economy is based on its egg and meat-producing facilities, most of which are located in the state’s northern counties.
Iowa produces one in every six eggs in the US, which means it’s likely that every person in the US will have eaten an egg from Iowa, and the state’s economy is based on agriculture.
Ohio Comes Second in the List With 45.8 Million Chickens Being Produced Annually (USDA)
Hot on Iowa’s tail is Ohio, with just shy of 46 million chickens raised for slaughter in 2021. These states contribute greatly to meeting the US need for affordable protein and food.
45.6 Million Chickens Are Produced by Indiana (USDA)
Indiana almost ties with Ohio for third place at 45.6 million chickens produced during 2021.
In Pennsylvania, 37.2 Million Chickens Are Produced (USDA)
Next up, Pennsylvania grossed 37.2 million chickens raised for slaughter in the same year.
Georgia Produced Almost 31 Million Chickens in 2021 (USDA)
Georgia concludes the top five chicken-producing states with 31 million chickens raised in 2021 for slaughter.
Many countries have chickens raised for meat production and eggs. The USA and China lead the flock as chicken production countries, but Russia, Indonesia, and Africa also raised several billion chickens for slaughter in 2021.
With chicken meat being the top form of affordable animal protein, this is expected to continue in an upward trend.
In the USA, Iowa Produces the Highest Number of Chickens (USDA)
Iowa is rightly known as a chicken state, producing 60 million broiler chickens annually. When it comes to layer hens, Iowa has upward of 58 million hens at any given time, producing nearly 16 billion eggs in a year.
In 2021 Worldwide, China Produced the Highest Number of Chickens at 5.118 Billion (FAO)
China produced 5.118 billion chickens in 2021, according to FAO. This is an increase of several billion from a few years before.
China Produced 586 Billion Eggs in 2021 (FAO)
By 2021, China had increased its egg production to 586 billion eggs per year. China is ranked as the world’s largest producer of chicken eggs, followed by the US.
Due to avian flu outbreaks, China’s domestic chicken meat production didn’t increase as rapidly as demand has, and China is the US’s third-largest importer of chicken meat.
The USA Produces the Second Greatest Number of Eggs (Sentientmedia)
The US has 390 million layer hens, producing 113.25 billion eggs (for 2019), which is second only to China, which produced 586 billion eggs in 2021.
The Second Greatest Chicken Producer Is Indonesia, With 3.478 Billion Chickens (FAO)
Indonesia was the second greatest chicken meat producer in the world, after China, in 2021, with 3.478 billion chickens raised for slaughter.
Top State With Egg Laying Chickens
Not all states are great egg or broiler chicken producers in the US. However, Iowa remains known as the chicken state, with the greatest number of chickens raised for slaughter, the most egg layer hens, and the largest number of eggs produced.
Iowa Leads All 50 US States in Egg Production (IADG)
Iowa produces 16.4 billion eggs each year, and it has the most layer hens at 58 million layers. Because of the lower feed costs in Iowa, chicken production is more affordable for local factory farmers.
The layer hens of Iowa consumed over 531.317 tons of soybeans in a year, so the cost of feeding these chickens is a huge determining factor.
Around 58 Million Chickens in Iowa Are Utilized for Egg Production (NCPA)
Just a little over 56 million layer hens produce the staggering volume of eggs that Iowa delivers each year. One in every six eggs in the US is from Iowa, just to give you an idea of how many eggs the chicken state actually produces.
According to North Central Poultry Association (NCPA), Iowa Produces the Highest Number of Egg-Laying Chickens (NCPA)
Iowa is the top egg-producing state in the US, which is why it’s no surprise it also has the most laying hens in the US. Iowa had an average of 34.5 million head of chickens that were used as laying hens in April 2022.
Since the demand for eggs increases each year, it stands to reason that there will be significantly more layer hens in Iowa in 2023 (and beyond).
Thanks to Iowa’s large-scale egg-laying facilities, the US is the fourth largest egg producer in the world.
On Average, One Hen Lays One Egg per Day (Chicken Journal)
The average rate of laying eggs is one egg per hen per day, though this applies to special breeds of chickens that are bred to lay eggs.
Specialized feeding, mechanized systems to turn lights on and off at preset times, and hormone treatments are often used to ensure a layer hen produces an egg a day for her short one to three-year lifespan.
Top Broiler Producing States
Not only does the US produce many eggs, but broiler chickens are produced and slaughtered by the millions to meet a growing market that is hungry for poultry meat.
The US Produces the Highest Number of Chickens for Meat in the World (National Chicken Council)
Most broiler chickens are raised in the US, compared to other countries. The US exports about 17% of its broiler chickens as meat to the rest of the world.
Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, and Mississippi Are the Top Broiler-Producing States in the US (USDA)
USDA reports that Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi are the top chicken meat producers in the US. Together, these five states produced several million tons of chicken meat in 2020.
According to USDA, Georgia Produced the Most Chickens in Terms of Weight in Excess of 8,083,100 Thousand Pounds (USDA)
While Iowa may produce the most eggs, Georgia runs the roost with broiler chicken production, having produced more than 8 billion pounds of chicken meat in 2020.
This staggering amount of meat was slaughtered from 1,325,100 thousand (or 1.3 billion) broiler chickens and amounted to almost three billion dollars in retail value.
According to Georgia Encyclopedia, Since the 1940s, the Peach State Has Seen Significant Growth in Its Broiler Chicken Industry (Georgia Encyclopedia)
Georgia farmers began chicken farming in earnest from 1939 to 1950, with chicken farms increasing from 57 to 1,044. Production of broiler chickens rose to over 5 billion pounds by 1995, and the Peach state produces well over 8 billion pounds annually.
How Chickens Are Big Business
Chickens are a gold mine for farmers and producers alike. Broiler chickens and layer hens produce a highly demanded product—animal protein—which meets a market that’s always hungry.
With many populations worldwide requiring meat that’s affordable, the poultry industry is booming.
Since 1990, Chicken Consumption for Meat Has Increased by 70% (the Economist)
The demand for chicken meat has increased by 70%, compared to the demand for beef and pork, which has remained relatively unchanged since the 90s.
Chicken meat remains a popular choice due to the low cost per pound when compared to other animal proteins.
Despite the recessions, Avian flu pandemics, and the loss of millions of birds that had to be culled, the world still wants more chicken—even though chicken has increased in price by 17%.
The US Citizens Eat 8 Billion Chickens Annually (Vox)
A sad reality is that Americans didn’t always eat as much chicken as they do now. At present, US citizens eat 8 billion chickens per year.
Large events like the Super Bowl, which required the slaughter of 700 million birds (for their wings and legs alone), show the insatiable appetite that Americans have for chicken meat.
Stats for 2021 Revealed That US Citizens Consumed 98.1 Pounds of Chicken Per Capita on Average (National Chicken Council)
Americans have increased their consumption of chicken per person per year from 47.4 pounds in 1980 to almost 100 pounds in 2021.
This is more than double the amount consumers ate 40 years ago. The demand for chicken is not only high, but it’s increasing, with chicken being imported to the US to meet consumption needs.
In 2018, the Cost of Chickens in the US Was $31.7 Billion (Nass USDA)
In 2018, the total value of the broiler chicken industry was more than $31.7 billion in the US. This means there is big money in the poultry industry, and with growing demand, this will not change anytime soon.
The Cost of Each Chicken in 2018 Was $4.16 (USDA)
The cost of raising a chicken in 2018, which accounts for the purchase, feed, and slaughter of broiler chickens, was $4.16 per chicken.
Each pound of chicken meat is sold at almost $2 per pound, with most broiler chickens averaging 4-5 pounds per produced chicken. While a chicken costs $4 to raise, the profit margin is significantly more at a profit of $12 per chicken.
The Consumption of Chicken Eggs per Person in 2022 Was 277.5 (USDA)
Each year, Americans consume over 285 eggs per person.
These are not all the eggs in the US, as table hens produce table eggs. Layer hens produce fertilized eggs that are hatched in mechanical hatcheries, which hatch as pullets or day-old chicks that are sold to be raised in battery cages.
Data Predicted That in 2023, the Egg Consumption per Person Will Have Raised to 288.6 Eggs (USDA)
It was found that with the continued rise in the world’s population and increased appetite for eggs, the consumption per person of eggs will increase to 288.6 eggs per year.
Iowa Alone Contributes $2 Billion Annually to the Country’s Economy With Egg Production (Iowa Egg Council)
By producing almost 16 billion eggs each year, Iowa adds $2.4 billion in sales to the US economy. These sales equal $22.8 million in tax revenue, while $502 million are paid in wages to 7,400 workers in the industry.
The Egg Industry in the US Gave 81,515 Jobs and Generated $22.77 Billion (United Egg Producers)
You’ve heard about the goose that laid the golden egg? Well, the US egg industry produced 81,515 jobs and over $22.77 billion in sales revenue.
How Many Tons of Chickens Are Produced in the US?
The US produced 44 billion pounds of chicken meat in 2019, with this figure increasing steadily. But, of course, this doesn’t account for every single chicken slaughtered.
Chickens raised as laying hens only have a productivity period of one to three years, after which they are also slaughtered.
These chickens don’t count as part of the broiler chickens’ figures. The total figure is around 47.9 million tons of chicken produced by the US in a year.
Which Is the Largest Chicken Producer Worldwide?
From the world’s global chicken total of 121 million tons, the US contributes the most with 47.9 million tons. This amounts to 40.7% of the world’s total chicken meat production.
Asia is the next biggest producer, with a total of 42.8 million tons or 36.3%, and Europe is next in line as a producer of chicken meat at 19.4 million tons or 16.5% of the world’s chicken production.
Which Is the Largest Chicken Producer in the US?
America has five large chicken producers, with Tyson Foods ranked as the largest. Tyson produces the largest number of chickens raised in the US and also the most chickens raised by a company in the world.
Tyson Foods produces more than 4 billion pounds of frozen chicken per year. The company has more than 250 processing plants (also known as Concentrated Animal Feed Operations) in the US and employs 120,000 people worldwide.
The world is certainly more populated by chickens than by people. Statistics rate that there are four chickens per person on earth.
Most of the chicken meat on earth is produced in a shockingly small space within each of the factory farms found in the US. Likewise, egg production happens in a system of battery cages, where chickens are commodities that produce eggs at unnatural rates, laying an egg a day.
The world craves cheap protein from animals, and chickens are cheap to raise at less than $4 a bird while being sold for much more per bird.
I was quite surprised by the staggering numbers of eggs and chickens produced in the world and in the US.
Iowa certainly holds the crown when it comes to chicken meat and eggs. However, it also brings a huge burden to inspect chicken-raising facilities and ensure that animals are kept and slaughtered humanely.