Delaware is expected to hit a 20-year low in broiler production this year, reports The News Journal.
The state’s output of broilers dropped 9% in two years from its 2006 record of 1.8 billion pounds. In 2008, contract growers received 246 million chicks, among the lowest numbers in two decades, and they report longer gaps between production cycles this year, according to the newspaper. Production is also declining in neighboring Maryland.
Large farms with more than 125,000 birds contribute more than 60% to Delaware’s poultry production, but the state also has a high number of smaller operations that are less resilient, The News Journal reports. "The trend nationwide is toward larger operations, because of the efficiencies of scale," said Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Chicken Council. "That's been going on elsewhere in the country for a long time. Delmarva”—the tri-state area of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia—“has been a little unusual in having so many small farms."
"We're concerned about anything that would have an impact on the industry," said Ed Kee, Delaware’s agriculture secretary. "The bottom line is, we want to make sure that poultry remains a healthy and viable part of the economy."