Look at what the chicken industry is doing for Delmarva.

Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. publishes annual data about the chicken industry in the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. In 2017, the data show, Delmarva's chicken industry grew at a modest pace, with processing production increasing 2 percent year-to-year. While chicken house capacity increased 13 percent in 2017, it has grown an average of less than 1 percent a year in the past decade. Contract payments to chicken growers and the wages of chicken company employees also grew, indicating a healthy chicken economy - one valued at $3.4 billion in wholesale value of the goods it produced. We do it all to meet the growing consumer demand for healthy, tasty chicken.

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In 2017, the Delmarva chicken industry: 1-year change 10-year change 20-year change
Raised 605 million chickens. +2% +7% -1%
Processed 4.2 billion pounds of chickens. +2% +22% +34%
Raised in 5,091 chicken houses. +8% -5% -12%
The houses had a capacity of 138 million chickens. +13% +7% +11%
There were 1,549 chicken growers. +3% -20% -41%
They earned $256 million in contract income. +5% +17%* +30%*
There were 18,500 chicken company employees. +28%** +25% +31%
They earned $752 million in wages, excluding benefits. +13%** +60%* +59%*
Feed ingredients for chickens were purchased for $984 million. -1% +18%* -3%*
The wholesale value of chicken produced was $3.4 billion. +6% +43%* +38%*
* Inflation-adjusted. ** For 2017, one company added a previously uncounted business unit.

Chicken growers and companies planted 8,444 trees and grasses in 2017 as part of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.'s vegetative environmental buffers program.

Chicken companies purchased 87 million bushels of corn, 36 million bushels of soybeans, and 1.6 million bushels of wheat for chicken feed in 2017.

Chicken companies purchased $240 million in packaging and processing supplies in 2017.

Delmarva's chicken companies invested $152 million in capital improvements in 2017, including investments in solar energy, hatcheries and processing plants.

We helped the agricultural sector meet benchmarks for improving water quality.

Chicken growers and chicken companies, in partnership with the rest of agriculture, are succeeding in meeting Chesapeake Bay clean-up benchmarks established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Here's one example. By June 30, 2017, one benchmark goal in Maryland was to annually transport 51,000 tons of poultry litter or livestock manure from farms that don't need it to farms that can use the manure in accordance with best management practices. As it turned out, 241,900 tons of manure were transported in 2017 — more than four times the benchmark goal.
Another benchmark the EPA asked us to meet by 2017 was to construct at least 31 new Maryland manure storage structures. Family farms raising chickens more than met that goal, constructing 149 manure storage structures between 2009 and 2017. Our farmers' hard work also helped the Bay meet benchmark goals for forest buffers planted, grass buffers planted and cover crops planted.

We gave back to the communities in which our members live, and to people in need around the country.

In 2017, our members donated food and funds to food pantries, churches, and people in need. Chicken companies also stepped up with urgently needed donations to help the victims of floods in Texas, mudslides in California and wildfires in North Carolina.
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.'s college scholarship fund awarded $16,000 to eight students interested in careers in the chicken industry.

Learn more: Reports & Documents

The fact sheets and visuals below provide important economic data about Delmarva's chicken industry.

How does the chicken industry help protect the environment?

Delmarva chicken farmers realize regulations are necessary to protect people, animals and the environment. We work with local and state government officials to ensure the health and well-being of the animals, environment and our neighbors.
We work with local governments to make our farms better neighbors. In recent years, we've adopted voluntary guidelines to encourage more space between new chicken houses and neighboring properties and residents, while working with farmers to plant trees and grasses as living buffers next to their chicken houses. We've worked with county officials as they adopted laws to accomplish these goals. Chicken farmers are part of Delmarva's communities and work hard to remain a welcomed segment of the landscape.
Delmarva's farm families are some of most regulated farms in the country. This regulation is accepted by Delmarva's chicken farmers and we have made significant advancements with measurable improvements in farming practices to protect water supplies.

Worker installing a Vegetative Environmental Buffer.

What about added hormones or steroids?

No artificial or added hormones are used in raising chickens anywhere in the United States. In fact, it's been illegal to do so since the 1950s. We realize this can be confusing when you see "hormone-free" on a chicken product label at the grocery store. But, that label must also include a statement that hormones are not used in the production of any poultry. We keep our chickens healthy with proper nutrition, good veterinary care and quality living conditions.

What about antibiotics?

Today, antibiotics are used in chickens and other farm animals for the same reason they are used in people - to treat or prevent disease that causes pain and suffering. When birds are sick with a bacterial infection, we treat them with antibiotics because it is the ethical thing to do.
Government regulations exist to prevent antibiotic residue in meat. The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world. Chicken farmers must adhere to specific antibiotic withdrawal times that have been established to ensure that meat entering the food supply is antibiotic free and safe.
Providing safe, wholesome chicken for consumers begins with providing the birds with a clean, safe growing environment. When birds get sick or are threatened by disease, the ethical use of antibiotics is good for the animals, but also good for people. The healthier the animal, the less likely bacteria enters the food supply. Farmers, companies and others in the Delmarva chicken industry support consumer and production method choice. Our family farms use a variety of production methods - including, for some, no-antibiotics-ever production -- to provide consumers with a choice in the decisions they make for themselves and their families. Finding ways to raise chickens without any antibiotics is the latest example of an industry committed to innovation, producing a wide range of chicken products for a wide range of consumers.

Where does all the chicken manure go?

Chicken manure provides area farmers with a locally-produced, organic, slow-release plant food that enhances soil health, quality and ability to retain moisture. This provides area farmers with chemical fertilizer alternatives and conserves natural resources.
Chicken farms do not simply dump chicken manure, or chicken litter - manure and wood shavings that make up the bedding in a chicken house - into waterways, or haphazardly apply manure to farm fields. Each Delmarva chicken farm is required to provide the state a natural resources protection plan. These plans are unique to each farm to ensure manure is handled in a way that keeps it away from the water supplies that are so important to our communities. In fact, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, agriculture's commitment to responsibility has led to demonstrable reductions in the amount of nitrogen, a common nutrient, in the Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other Bay monitors have recognized and applauded this progress.
Regardless of the size or type of a farm, carefully formulated feed, access to a plentiful supply of clean water and food, adequate room to grow, professional veterinary attention and proper handling are all important factors in raising chickens. Delmarva's poultry farmers are committed to providing excellent care for their birds.