Adding another income stream to the farming operation has benefits

Commercial poultry production provides opportunities for growers to operate their own operations while being contracted with a company to invest, expand and benefit from. 

“Being a poultry grower will allow you to stay on the farm and be an independent contractor,” said Cliff Fitchpatrick, Tyson Live Operation Manager in Springdale, Ark. 

Commercial poultry production looks similar for companies like Tyson, George’s, The Happy Egg Co. and Perdue in Northwest Arkansas and Southern Missouri. Growers operate houses for pullets, breeder hens or broilers. 

“[Growers] provide the housing, labor and utilities, and the company provides baby chicks, feed, and catching and hauling birds back to the plant,” said Fitchpatrick. 

Different companies have slightly different contracts and are not always looking to expand their operations. They also differ in the number of birds, pay structure, and cost of building houses. When they are looking to expand, companies need growers within a certain distance of their plants.

To become a grower, producers must already have existing poultry houses or have room to build. The land needs to be secluded and distant from neighbors. Growers also need to have an agricultural background, not necessarily with poultry, but an understanding of the agriculture industry. 

“It is a stable and steady business; it is very detailed down to very small degrees because of the number of birds,” said Fitchpatrick. 

Each company has an application system and a different process for becoming a poultry grower. According to different company websites, they are looking for hard working individuals who will be dedicated to taking care of their flocks and doing their best to produce the best quality bird and egg. 

“Growing chickens fits in well with my dairy production because it is not necessarily a timed schedule.”

— Darrell Ranck

Many current growers are family farms who are working together to raise poultry. Many have also been in this operation for many years, but it is a growing production. 

Flitchpatrick said poultry production is different from raising crops or cattle because of the small details. However, poultry production fits in well with those other operations. 

Current poultry producer, Darrell Ranck said, “growing chickens fits in well with my dairy production because it is not necessarily a timed schedule.” 

Ranck operates two pullet houses along with his family dairy farm. He said he is thankful he decided to invest in poultry production. It was a large investment, but it paid off. 

“Within the last five years, we would not have financially been able to continue without the chickens,” Ranck said.

A contracted business allows for some security in changing markets. It is a stable and competitive operation with room for growth and a strong foreseeable future. 

Flitchpatrick said the best thing to do when considering poultry production is to visit an existing operation. Ask how much time they are investing and what their financial situation looks like. 

Time and financial investments will look different depending on the size of the operation and the type of birds. 

“Everyone has their own reasons for why it fits into their operation and whether they need it or not. But the same general principles apply to all producers no matter where they are located or who they grow for or what specific bird they are growing,” Ranck said. 

“If you are a grower, you need to look at the long term. You aren’t going to get rich quick,” Flitchpatrick said.

Flitchpatrick emphasized the importance of learning about the production before you enter it. It is a big investment, and it is important to know what you are getting yourself into before making commitments and signing a contract.



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