Which US State Produces The Most Chicken?

Chicken is one of the most versatile meats that appeals to people of all ages. From the youngest eater in the form of a nugget to a more mature eater with coq au vin, chicken is found on menus around the world. A quick search for chicken on AllRecipes provides thousands of results for everything from Cream of Chicken Breasts to Popcorn Chicken and Chicken Saag to Shoyu Chicken.

An even bigger number illustrates just how popular chicken is among Americans. According to Vox, people eat 8 billion chickens annually in the United States. According to Today, the total number of chickens eaten each year is much larger at 65 billion. To satiate this hunger for chicken, there are about 23 billion chickens living on the planet each day. In the United States, the total number of chickens during the year 2020 was 518.3 million, per Statista. Eggs are also widely consumed throughout the world and will generate $110 billion in 2022. That amount of eggs being eaten and the economic impact from that consumption are both expected to increase at a rate of 7.74 annually, according to Statista

Top state for egg-laying chickens

When it comes to agriculture, Iowa is the land of plenty. Not only does Iowa grow the most corn in the United States, it also leads all 50 states in chicken production, according to Statista. In 2021, the Midwest state was responsible for the production of 60 million chickens, followed by Ohio with 45.8 million and Indiana with 45.6 million. Of the chickens being raised in Iowa, about 56 million are used for egg production, also making it the top state for that, per North Central Poultry Association (NCPA). A hen normally lays one egg per day and rarely lays two per day (via Chicken Journal). 

The number of chickens that are being raised for their meat (broiler chickens) in Iowa is also increasing, according to NCPA, citing the accessibility of food for the birds. When compared with the other 49 states for the production of meat chickens, Iowa doesn't even break into the top five, per National Chicken Council.

Top states for broiler chickens

According to National Chicken Council, the United States produces the most chickens for meat in the world, having raised more than 9 billion in 2018, of which about 17% was exported to other countries. Of the 50 states, the top states to raise meat chickens are Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, and Mississippi. Called broiler chickens, it usually takes about seven weeks for them to grow to the desired size (about 4-7 lbs.) for slaughter, per Chicken Check In

In 2021, Georgia raised the largest number of broiler chickens (1,298,900,000 head), but that doesn't mean it produced the most in terms of weight. That honor goes to North Carolina with 8,062,600 pounds, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Conversely, North Carolina ranked fourth for the number of broiler chickens raised (971,400), and Georgia was second for pounds produced (7,923,300). The University of Georgia Extension states that The Peach State has seen significant growth in its broiler chicken industry since the 1950s, which it credits to consumers wanting good quality, low-cost protein. The University predicts that Georgia will continue to be a major producer in the world.

Chickens are big business

According to the Economist, the popularity of chicken as a source of protein has only continued to grow. The outlet also reported that the amount of chickens being eaten increasing by 70% since 1990. In 2020, Americans ate an average of 96.4 pounds, per Statista, which predicts that the consumption will increase to about 101 pounds in the next 10 years. All the chickens raised in the United States in 2018 held a value of $2.88 billion with each chicken that year being worth $4.33. Statista reports that that was more than a dollar increase from 2009 when each chicken had a value of $3.32.

Like chicken meat, the consumption of chicken eggs continues to increase in the United States. According to Statista, with each person ate approximately 286.5 eggs in 2020. By the end of 2022, the average American was expected to eat 288.1 eggs. Egg production in Iowa contributes more than $2 billion every year to the state's economy alone, per World Atlas. According to United Egg Producers, the egg industry in the United States supports 81,515 jobs and generates $22.77 billion for the economy (via United Egg Producers). 

So however you like your eggs and chicken cooked, you're not alone in your love for the bird.