Among all countries in the world, the United States is the largest poultry producer and the second largest exporter of poultry meat, according to the USDA.
Most poultry farms in the United States raise chickens, so that’s what we’re talking about here, but with small variations, the same information holds true for other types of poultry farms. Turkeys, ducks, and geese are among some of the other types of birds raised for their meat.
According to the Wordlwatch Institute, 74% of the world’s chickens are raised in an intensive farming environment. Others are raised on smaller farms, may of which promote free-range farming or yarding. Intensive farming, where chickens are often kept in cages in dark chicken pens for their entire lives, is considered to be less ethical by many and may create health risks, but it also produces larger chickens in less time and on smaller plots of land.
Tasks on a chicken farm depend on the method of farming and size of the farm, but the most common tasks include receiving and sorting new chicks, feeding the chickens, cleaning pens, and inspect the birds for disease. Some chicken farms also have laying hens which produce eggs to sell, and some breed chicks to sell to other farms, so working in the incubation room could also be part of your job on a poultry farm.
Along with working for a farm directly, you can also get a job working in collection and transportation for a larger corporation like Tyson, Perdue, and Pilgrim’s Pride. These companies send trucks to all of their farms to catch the chickens that are grown and ready for processing.
If you work in this kind of job, be prepared to work night shifts, as most collection trucks visit farms at night to avoid disrupting the work done on the farm during the day.
Working on a poultry farm does pose some health risks if you aren’t careful. When cleaning cages and pens, or even just entering them, it is important to wear protective clothing, especially a mask, and if you suffer from asthma or allergies, this may not be the best career choice for you.