The value of poultry farming in developing economies has long been recognised and various development agencies have encouraged the initiation of small-scale poultry farming initiatives or offered continued support to farmers active in the sector.
Not only does poultry farming offer a source of food and income for smaller farmers, it also leads to the development of related industries.
While much has been published on the economic benefits of poultry farming in the developing world, less material is available on its impact in more advanced economies. Work by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, however, has now addressed this.
A comparative study of farm incomes in the south of the US state of Georgia has concluded that counties that have poultry production facilities have, on average, total net farm income of almost three times that of comparable but non-poultry-producing counties. Poultry counties were also found to be more economically efficient, with a net income per acre of more than double that of non-poultry counties.
The study, A Comparison of Farm Incomes for Poultry and Non-Poultry Producing Counties in South Georgia, was issued by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Its author, Dan L Cunningham, PhD, is a professor and extension specialist in the university's Department of Poultry Science.
Similar results likely
According to Dr Cunningham, while the study focused on counties in southern Georgia, similar results would be likely to be found in other poultry-producing areas in the US.
"I believe that a parallel study on the relative economic contributions of poulty vs non-poultry counties in other areas of the country would find that the general conclusions of our work hold true. They would likely demonstrate that poultry production has a strikingly powerful effect in terms of economic impact on these typically smaller and more rural economics," Dr Cunningham says.
The study notes that the decision to locate an integrated poultry production complex in a given county brings with it average initial investments of more than $180 million in hard assets, such as processing plants, feed mills, hatcheries and production houses, along with more than $50 million annually in payroll and labour and contract payments.
While the study notes that a new poultry complex will add some costs to the community, such as additional demands on roads, utilities and schools, these will usually be more than offset by new tax revenues and spending that flow from the poultry and poultry-related facilities.
Farmers choosing to assign some of their acreage to poultry production also benefit from the enhanced productivity. According to the study, net farm incomes, on both an income-per-farm and an income-per-acre-of-farm basis, are "significantly greater for farms with poultry as part of their agricultural diversification".