image used as white space
MSUcares header Link to home page
Logos of MSU, Extension Service, and MAFES Links to home page of website.

Commercial Poultry Production

Broiler Production in Mississippi

All broilers produced in Mississippi and throughout the United States are produced under a contract arrangement with a poultry producing company commonly called a broiler integrator. There is good evidence that it is difficult for an individual to independently produce broilers profitably. The primary reason is that no live bird markets exist that accepts or buys broilers for processing and marketing to consumer outlets.

Mississippi ranks as the fourth largest producing state among the United States in numbers of broilers produced. Mississippi is a surplus broiler producing state. Approximately 88 percent of all broilers produced are sold out of state.

A contract broiler farmer should prepare his houses and equipment to meet the specifications recommended by the broiler integrator with which he is planning to contract. It is important that the prospective farmer get a signed contract before buying, constructing, or renovating a poultry farm. Otherwise, he may spend a large amount of money and end up with no company interested in placing chicks in his facilities. Companies will not place chickens in houses just because they are available. It must be to their advantage to use them.

Companies try to screen prospective producers closely to determine whether they will be good business partners. Each company wants an honest, dependable, hard working person or family who is well respected within the community. Companies invest large amounts of money in the chickens, feed and field service workers.

Interested farmers should study the attributes of the poultry company with which they plan to contract. A good farmer usually chooses the best company and vice versa. The farmer should expect the company to be honest, dependable, well established and show interest in and concern for its contract producers. The farmer also invests much money in houses and equipment.

Building and equipping new broiler houses cost $6.00 to $6.50 per square foot of floor space. Broilers are usually placed at the rate of one broiler for each 0.65 to 0.80 square foot of floor space. Housing costs, therefore, are about $4.00 to $5.20 per bird capacity.

The farmer can expect to receive about 18-24 cents per broiler raised. He cares for them during a six to eight week period and is responsible for the feeding, watering, and general well-being of the birds. The time interval between batches or flocks of birds varies. Normally, it is one to two weeks. However, during the summer an extended period of about three weeks is allowed for removal of the litter, cleaning the house and replacing the old litter material (if necessary). This is normally at the farmer's expense. Usually, five to six batches of broilers can be reared per year, but sometimes only four batches are raised. This means a gross income to the farmer of $1.40 to $1.65 per square foot of floor space is produced each year. The annual average is about $1.50 per square foot of floor space.

Lending agencies usually require the farmer to arrange his payments on a loan so that it is repaid within ten to twelve years. To repay the loan during a ten year commitment, the farmer must pay about 60 percent of his gross income to the lending agency until the loan in paid. A loan repayment period greater than ten years allows the farmer to retain more of his gross income. With the remaining gross receipts, the farmer pays the electric bill, any hired labor, costs of maintenance, litter clean out and litter replacement. The cost of fuel for brooding is 1-2 cents per bird on a yearly basis.

The poultry company or integrator provides for the delivery of the newly hatched chicks and catching of the marketable broilers. They also provide a serviceman to make recommendations on managing the broilers and ordering feed delivery. The diagnosis and treatment of diseases is also handled by this serviceman who is hired and trained by the company. In most cases representatives of the company will treat and vaccinate the broiler chicks for necessary diseases. The company pays for all drugs, vaccines, and health measures.

One of the best things a person seriously interested in the broiler business can do is to visit some established broiler farmers in the area. Spend enough time with them to understand the major demands of the business before making a commitment. If you do plan to visit a poultry farm, be sure to arrange for your visit well in advance with both the farmer and the company with which the farmer is contracting. This ensures that all precautions can be taken to prevent the spreading of poultry diseases.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Extension Poultry Specialist in the Poultry Department at Mississippi State University. Contact persons can be provided upon request for all companies in any region of Mississippi where broilers are produced. Contact Mississippi State University; Poultry Science Department; Box 9665; Mississippi State, MS 39762 or by e-mail at