WASHINGTON – The National Chicken Council (NCC) published the findings of a new study, “Live Chicken Production Trends,” which highlighted key live chicken production statistics based on a survey of its members. 

The trade association’s study also summarized key trends in broiler production, efficiency, returns and loan quality data. 

“Raising chickens under contract is one of the best and most reliable sources of cash flow that helps keep families on the farm,” said Thomas Elam, PhD, agriculture economist, the study’s author and president of FarmEcon LLC. “The business partnerships between chicken farmers and chicken companies are mutually beneficial, viable and profitable. The real winner is the American consumer, though, who benefits from the healthiest and most affordable protein in the meat case.”

NCC stated that the study represents the most recent publicly available government data. The new poultry survey includes companies that make up 83% of total chicken production. 

Data from the USDA showed that the median income for chicken farmers was $68,455. NCC also mentioned that 60% of chicken farmers earned household incomes that exceeded the US-wide median.

Other findings showed that the top 20% of contract chicken farmers earn on average $142,000, compared to the top 20% of all farm households ($118,000) and all US households ($101,000).

Another data point provided by the NCC showed that there were waiting lists to enter live chicken production or expand existing operations. According to the study, there were 1,672 applicants from potential producers and 335 expansion requests from existing farmers.

The survey respondents showed that 6% of farmers left their company, including retirements. Contract termination made up only 0.7% of why farmers left.

Average on-farm livability was also measured in the survey, which showed US broiler chickens were at almost 95%. In 1925, it was 82%. 

After releasing the survey, Mike Brown, president of NCC, explained what was needed to maintain the current model of broiler chicken farming.

“What this data further show, is that the chicken industry should be looked at as a model, and not a target of unwanted and unnecessary regulations that are being discussed in the Biden administration,” Brown said. “The latest Consumer Price Index released last week marked the biggest inflationary gain since 1981. At a time when input costs are through the roof, is now really the time to be discussing regulatory burdens that would increase costs for producers and add more costs to already soaring grocery bills for Americans?”