The poultry industry is big business! There are lots of jobs working with poultry companies. There are also jobs with companies that supply products to the poultry industry (known as 'allied industry'). Gone is the day when thousands of small farms produced our chicken meat and eggs, our turkey for Thanksgiving, or the occasional duck or goose. Today large poultry companies produce most the chicken meat, turkey meat or chicken eggs sold in grocery stores.
While chicken meat is still produced on family farms, the chicken houses have thousands of chickens being taken care of together. The farmer raises the chickens for a company like Tyson or Perdue. The farmer has a contract that explains what his responsibilities are and what the responsibilities of the company are. The chickens and feed are owned by the company, but the grower owns the land and the chicken house. The farmer gets paid based on the number of chickens he is able to raise to the right weight. The company has breeder flocks that produce the eggs that the meat chickens are hatched from. They also own the hatchery where the eggs are incubated to produce the chicks that get raised up for meat production. The company also has a large feed mill to mix the feed for the chickens that are being raised on the different farms. The company also owns the buildings where the chickens are slaughtered and cleaned for sale. The company then sells the chicken produced or they use the chicken to make chicken products like nuggets and chicken wings.
Within a chicken meat company some of the job opportunities include:
Egg production in the United States is mainly on large farms. There can be a million or more hens on a single farm. The company owns the hens and collects the eggs for sale. The eggs can be cleaned and packaged for sale in grocery stores or they can be sent to 'breakers' where they break open all the eggs to get the contents. This liquid egg can then be used in bakeries, restaurants, and companies building food products that contain eggs - which includes ice-cream! The company owns that farms that raise the pullets from chicks till they are ready to lay eggs, the farms with the laying hens, the feed mill, and the facility for cleaning and packaging the eggs for sale.
As with the chicken meat industry, the egg industry also hires a lot of different types of workers:
All the companies need:
In addition there are a lot of different companies that produce products that are used by the poultry companies - feed ingredients, equipment, medications, packaging material, etc. They also need geneticists that maintain the breeding stock, selecting breeders for improved growth rate or egg production
Job opportunities in the poultry industry are worldwide. Many poultry companies have production in more than one country. If you are interested in working abroad, speaking a second language is very useful.
There are lots of opportunities to work with the poultry industry. There may be a spot for you!
Careers in poultry science (Poultry Science Association)
Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky