Arkansas is the Lead Poultry Producer in the United States

Arkansas is the lead poultry producer in the United States. Poultry consists of many birds such as turkeys, chickens, geese, pheasants, and more, but chickens and turkeys are the most common in Arkansas. There are many uses for chicken farms, such as meat and egg purposes and It is not hard to find a chicken house, especially out in the rolling hills of Arkansas (Arkansas Farm Bureau, 2019). There are many terms used to define poultry chickens. If a chicken is referred to as a broiler, that means that chicken is used for meat. Laying hens are another type of chicken that is raised in chicken houses. Their purpose is to produce eggs (Arkansas Farm Bureau, 2019). It is important to understand the terms used to describe different types of poultry because without knowing the correct terms, it would be hard to know what is being talked about.

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Arkansas is so involved in poultry production, that the state produces over 5 billion pounds of meat. This kind of yield puts Arkansas second in the United States for meat production (Arkansas Farm Bureau, 2019). With high yields comes a large amount of jobs that need filled. Arkansas poultry production creates over 40 thousand jobs in the state. There are tons of broiler chickens being raised on farms all over Arkansas. In fact, of the 75 counties in Arkansas, 53 are home to multiple broiler houses (Arkansas Commercial Poultry Production). 2 Arkansas is also a leader in turkey production. In 2012, Arkansas placed third in turkey production, producing over 30 million turkeys, most being produced in northwest Arkansas and central Arkansas (Arkansas Commercial Poultry Production). Meat is not the only thing Arkansas focuses on.

Eggs are also a huge part of Arkansas poultry. Arkansas was classified as tenth in the nation for egg production in 2012, being mostly produced in northwest and southwest Arkansas. Arkansas produced over 3 billion eggs in 2012 (Arkansas Commercial Poultry Production). Arkansas poultry first started in the late 1800s-early 1900s and has only multiplied since. Tyson Foods, which is a very well-known brand of chicken food products, is in Springdale, Arkansas (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas). In 1893, a man named Millard Berry, who lived in Springdale, got an incubator and started raising chickens in large amounts. A few years passed by and eventually Berry helped found the Arkansas Poultry Breeders Association (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas).

After that, people started realizing how important this industry is. In 1908 the Agri experiment station of Arkansas started trying to figure out how to make poultry production even bigger. They started having meetings discussing how poultry production had to be increased in order to sustain the nation (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas). Low numbers in yields would not sustain a whole nation, or even a whole state. Innovations in the industry had to be created. By 1924, a man named Hugh Webb of Benton County, bought a house to hold 500 chickens. While this was a huge step in the right direction as far as mass production goes, it created many new problems.

A few of those problems were the number of diseases in the poultry, which also caused a large death rate in the chickens (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas). These problems caused the poultry farmers to suffer financially and made their jobs a lot harder. 3 The prices in meat would rise and fall inconsistently, causing the farmers to never know what to expect the prices of their production to go for. Another issue that would raise concern to the farmers was the road conditions. Bad roads sometimes made it nearly impossible to get to the chicken houses and if they did make it, to safely get the chickens to the factories.

What made this situation a lot better was putting in highway 71 in 1926, spreading the consumer population into Kansas City and surrounding towns (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas). While poultry farming was looking up as far as civilization goes, nature played a part in the growing popularity of poultry farming. In 1927, a huge drought hit Arkansas and caused a lot of fruit and row crop farmers to give up their farms and become chicken farmers (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas). This jump in popularity caused a chain reaction. There were tons of chicken farms, but with all the farms, there had to be an equal amount of trucks to haul them out.

An Elm Springs man named Willis Shaw started one of the first trucking companies for poultry. He became a leader in commercial trucking (Poultry Industry – Encyclopedia of Arkansas). It is commonly wondered why Arkansas is such a popular place to farm chickens. It’s because of the terrain. Hill and trees are not a good place for row crop farms, so it drives away that kind of farming. That leaves tons of land for poultry farming. Another reason is because mass flooding is less frequent in hills than it is in the flat lands of Arkansas, so it only makes sense to put the houses in places where they are less likely to flood. What also makes the hills a good place for poultry farming is that a house is a compact way of farming. A few houses on some leveled hills makes a perfect farming area. This is easily done for poultry farming. The rock and sediment build up is no task for a chicken farmer, as it would be for a row crop farmer, so it is no problem for the land to be rocky or not of good quality. 4 Many things go into chicken farming. It is an expensive start up, but success one can get off running a chicken farm correctly is possible. The equipment used in poultry farms is far from cheap. For example, one chicken house costs an average 250 thousand dollars (Career Profile).

A chicken farmer will also have to have reliable tractors and decakers to get the litter out of the houses. It is basically impossible to run a chicken house without these pieces of expensive equipment. The decaker alone can cost around 4,000 dollars (Decakers). Another piece of equipment one must have to run a chicken house is a four-wheeler. It may not be necessary to have a four-wheeler but working hard and efficiently is very important and four-wheelers make that a lot easier. A farmer also must make sure their ventilation systems are running properly. To keep a ventilation system, one must also have equipment to maintain the ventilation system. An example of maintenance equipment is a pressure washer. The fans get so built up in dust, little, feathers, dirt, and more, that a pressure washer must be used to clean them out.

The fans get clogged very often so this is a regular job. Running a chicken farm is very time consuming and a farmer must fully commit to his farm and his chickens. This means missed vacations, not much family time, and a lot of stress. But if there is a love for it, then it is worth it. It takes a lot of work, but the benefits far outweigh the bad if it is done right. As one can see, the poultry farming has been around for years and has only grown over time. Poultry farming is very important. Without poultry farming, civilization would be a lot different. Thanks to all the farmers who work day in and day out, people all around the world have access to so many chicken food products. Imagine a world where chicken

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