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Which is the best US state to raise chickens?

Views: 2023     Author: LONGMU     Publish Time: 2023-09-22      Origin: LONGMU


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The best state is the state where you live unless you are already planning to move. Your location will determine the best use you put on your birds, the best birds to raise, etc. Questions to ask yourself…

What do I want to raise, meat birds, layers, heritage breeds, rare breeds? What do I enjoy most? Why am I doing this? If it is to make money primarily, you need to read details about costs to raise, process, and market your intended product. You might make more money, per hour, working in a grocery store. You need to do the calculation for yourself.

chicken farm

If you are raising primarily for yourself, then ask yourself if you are looking for economy (large meat birds, high production layers) or for flavor or beautiful colored eggs (heritage breeds and rare breeds). Do you want to hatch out chicks? Do you want to select breeding stock and select for your own specifications in appearance, growth rate, etc.?

What do you want to sell, meat, eggs, niche artisan birds, rare breed chicks via mail order?

Who is your intended audience, friends/family, farmers market, local stores, or high-end restaurants? Take time to visit local markets and see the competition.

If your area has very cold winters, choose a bird that does well in the cold. If you have long hot summers, choose a bird that tolerates the heat. If you want to sell expensive birds, make sure you are close enough to a high-rent district that will support your business. Plan your audience from the beginning. You can change your mind, but you will waste less time and money if you have a clear idea of your market before you start.

Someone mentioned USDA processing as an expense. USDA is no more expensive than state inspected, in my area. You can process on a farm, if you sell on the farm, or at a farmers market, but make sure the birds look very professional, or they will passed over in favor of birds that look cleaner or are better packaged. If you process at home, at least in New York State, the birds can only be sold as raw birds to the end user. If you process in a NYS inspected facility you can also sell to restaurants and retail stores. Remember that processing at home is very labor intensive, you may end up hiring help, so it is not always a bargain once you are processing more than a few birds.

Important addition. Find out about your local laws BEFORE getting any birds. Some towns prohibit chickens, or roosters, or limit the number of birds per acre or per lot.

chicken farm equipment10.12

You can raise chickens in any US State. Depends what you want to do with them from a business perspective that will affect your choice.

1. If you need to sell processed birds across state lines, then you need to use a USDA inspected facility for processing. This will raise your cost per bird. Make sure you have this calculated in your cost of goods sold, otherwise you’ll be negative without realizing it. Feed, amortized housing and equipment, initial chick cost, and YOUR TIME as well.

2. If you’re just selling inside a state, then look at options for state-inspected facility.

3. Some states (e.g. Virginia) allow for a certain number of birds to be on-farm processed for direct sales to consumer. This is the most optimal for cost, and can be done relatively inexpensively at first. Polyface Farms has a relatively extensive setup they use for processing that Joel Salatin has documented in various books and classes.

4. Can you sell eggs direct to consumer? How about to restaurants? What kinds of farmers markets exist? What are the price points consumers expect for free range eggs, etc? Can you meet those numbers and maintain a profit?

There’s no good answer here. There’s difficulties even inside any given state if you’re not close enough to a market that will pay the price difference between conventional and pasture based birds.

Run the numbers and do the research, as you would with any business venture. No other way around that.

This might not be the answer you are looking for but I would say any state that does not get too hot or too old. Raising chickens is a fairly easy, straightforward job, with a daily routine. The one thing that makes that routine more difficult is the weather. It takes time and supplies to plan ahead for extremes in the weather. When there is a heat wave or temperatures get very hot in the summer, you have to be careful of your chickens getting heat stroke. They need cold snacks to lower their body temperature, sprinklers, and buckets of cold water on standby in case they need to be dunked. In winter when temperatures fall below freezing you need a way to keep the water from freezing. You also need to watch and prepare for frostbite on combs and toes. They need extra calories and draft-free spaces to sleep. In both extremes, your chickens will benefit from electrolytes and extra vitamins to keep them healthy. If the weather was mild year round this would take a lot of work out of raising chickens.

You can raise chickens anywhere in the USA.

In states with very cold winter temperatures, you will need to insulate and heat your coop.

Chickens also will stop laying eggs if they get too little light, so you might want to have lights in the coop.

If you are thinking of a commercial operation rather than just getting eggs and/or meat, then there are many more considerations.

Feed costs are lower in some areas.

Land costs are also lower in some areas.

Labor costs are lower in some areas.

chicken egg

Most single-family farms can't afford the equipment to grow, process and market chickens for meat. Most farms are contract producers.

You might be required to locate near a processing plant if you are under contract.

“U.S. broiler production is organized in a distinct manner. Almost all broilers are raised by farms that operate under contract with chicken companies known as integrators. The farms provide capital (housing and equipment), utilities, and labor. They receive chicks, feed, transportation, veterinary services, and technical guidance from integrators, who pay contract fees to the growers to raise the chicks to market weights.”

Some say that the South is the best place in the US to raise chickens. Arkansaw has enough to give a chicken dinner for thousands. But chickens do reasonably well in a lot of places even in backyards in the city. I don't think they do so well in extreme cold like Alaska, but if you could keep them warm, they'd be fine. Like any other animal, you have to know how to care for it properly.

These are the suggestions I collected, I hope they will be helpful to you.

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