North Carolina is known for its large agricultural industry, and the poultry industry plays a huge role within the agricultural industry as a whole. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s 2015 agricultural statistics, there were 822,700,000 broilers in North Carolina. These birds are raised for meat. Also, in 2015, there were 31,000,000 turkeys in production in North Carolina.
By most estimates at this time, North Carolina is the number one state for all poultry combined because of our strong turkey presence. We are fourth in broiler production and eighth in egg production. Duplin County produced the highest number of broilers in the state in 2015 with 69,000,000 head. Union County led layer production in 2015 with 1,350,000 head. Sampson County led turkey production in 2015 with 7,850,000 turkeys. Wayne County ranked third for N.C. counties in 2014 for turkeys raised with 3,500,000 head.
North Carolina cash receipts from 2014 were 32.6 percent crops and 67.4 percent livestock, dairy and poultry. Of the latter category, turkeys made up 5.6 percent, broilers made up 29.3 percent, chicken eggs made up 3.8 percent, and all other poultry made up 0.1 percent. Poultry production leads NC’s agricultural industry and produces almost 10 percent of the nation’s product according to the Prestage Department of Poultry Science website. It also brings in $3.9 billion a year. This means the poultry industry is not only massive in NC, but it is creating jobs all over the state, and in return boosting the economy. Poultry producers also work very hard to ensure they are taking good care of the environment by properly managing their waste and working hard to be energy efficient.
There are a number of ways to get involved in the poultry industry. You may be interested in growing chickens or turkeys for a company, which is a currently booming industry. You may be interested in earning a degree in Poultry Science and becoming a veterinarian or working in the industry. Or you may own your own backyard egg business. You also may be interested in conducting research at NCSU. With all these options, the poultry industry is the place to be right now.
North Carolina State University’s Prestage Department of Poultry Science is one of only six poultry departments in the nation. They have an outstanding program that offers degrees in Poultry Science. They work closely with North Carolina State University’s Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational opportunities to youth and adults across the state.
Some of our programs include Embryology in the classrooms, where youth are able to incubate a set of eggs and watch them hatch in their classroom. We also offer Outdoor Cookery competitions at State 4-H Congress where youth cook chicken or turkey and are judged on their product and presentation skills. Backyard poultry classes are offered throughout the year, as well as classes for poultry company employees to learn more about poultry production on a larger scale. Other events include the Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Poultry Judging
Competition, the North Carolina State Fair Turkey Show, and the Avian Bowl. These events help promote the poultry industry and help get youth interested in the opportunities of a poultry degree and career.
To see how you can get involved in the poultry industry in North Carolina, contact your local Cooperative Extension Office.
Margaret Ross is an eastern area extension agent specializing in poultry. She is housed in Jones County and can be reached by phone at 252-448-9621 or by e-mail at Margaret_Ross@ncsu.edu.