Here's how the chicken community is working for Delmarva.

In 2020, the Delmarva chicken community raised 570 million chickens, produced 4.2 billion pounds of shelf- and table-ready chicken and generated $3.4 billion in value. We persevered through multiple challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, economic contractions and supply chain issues in the second quarter of 2020 clearly restricted chicken production and delayed expected income for many farmers raising chickens. Compared to the previous year, chicken house capacity grew 3 percent, but the number of active chicken growers fell 4 percent. Contract payments to chicken growers increased 0.2% percent in 2020, with farm families earning a combined $280 million. While our chicken company workforce of 17,955 jobs contracted slightly in 2020, we have created 3,000 net new jobs in our industry in the past 10 years.

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In 2020, the Delmarva chicken community: 1-year change 10-year change 20-year change
Raised 570 million chickens. -6% 2% -5%
Processed 4.2 billion pounds of chickens. -1% 24% 31%
Operated 5,036 chicken houses on independently owned farms. -2% 8% -12%
The houses had a capacity of 149 million chickens. 3% 18% 17%
There were 1,278 chicken growers. -4% -25% -49%
They earned $280 million in contract income. 0.2% 35%* 26%*
There were 17,955 chicken company employees. -2% 21% 30%
They earned $741 million in wages, excluding benefits. -5% 34%* 40%*
Feed ingredients for chickens were purchased for $1 billion. -0.4% 2%* 43%*
The wholesale value of chicken produced was $3.4 billion. -5% 47%* 63%*
* Inflation-adjusted.

Chicken growers and businesses planted 6,069 trees and grass plugs in 2020 in Delmarva Chicken Association's vegetative environmental buffers program.

Chicken companies purchased $270 million in packaging and processing supplies in 2020.

Chicken companies purchased 90 million bushels of corn, 36 million bushels of soybeans, and 403,000 bushels of wheat primarily from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia grain farmers for chicken feed in 2020.

Delmarva's chicken companies invested $115 million in capital improvements in 2020, including investments in wastewater treatment, hatcheries and processing plants.

Here's what DCA achieved in 2020.

We launched littr., a mobile app connecting chicken litter suppliers to customers.

littr., an iOS and Android app, helps growers anywhere on Delmarva who have poultry litter find customers seeking to use it as a valuable fertilizer or renewable energy source. DCA developed the app by partnering with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Campbell Foundation for the Environment, the Delmarva Land & Litter Collaborative and Common Logic.
Creating this app is one of the ways DCA is stepping in to help growers during the final implementation of Maryland's Phosphorous Management Tool. Improved litter management has allowed farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to reduce agricultural nitrogen entering the Bay by 39 percent and reduce agricultural phosphorus reaching the Bay by 25 percent.

We empowered state datagathering on ambient air and ammonia.

In April the Maryland Department of the Environment brought online a first-of-its-kind effort to monitor ambient air quality, including levels of ammonia and particulate matter, on Maryland's Eastern Shore and in central Maryland. This happened through a partnership with DCA and the Campbell Foundation that began in 2019. The data collected in 2020 showed areas near Princess Anne and Pocomoke City, with nearby chicken farms, did not record values for ammonia, fine particulate matter, or coarse particulate matter that exceeded - or even approached - screening levels or EPA standards for those pollutants.

We helped the chicken community adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our #chickensteppedup campaign highlighted how hard chicken companies, their employees, farmers and allied businesses worked to keep Americans fed during lockdowns and the nationwide crisis. We pressed lawmakers and regulators to aid members hurt by the pandemic, and our efforts led directly to new state and federal relief.

We rebranded to become the Delmarva Chicken Association.

In November, we unveiled a new brand for our organization, which was founded in 1948 and had been known since 1955 as Delmarva Chicken Association "Becoming the Delmarva Chicken Association clarifies our pride in who we are, what we raise and produce, and the values we stand for as one of the largest chicken communities in the country," said Dale Cook, our 2020 president.

Learn more: Reports & Documents

The fact sheets and visuals below provide important economic data about Delmarva's chicken industry.

How does the chicken industry help protect the environment?

Delmarva chicken farmers realize regulations are necessary to protect people, animals and the environment. We work with local and state government officials to ensure the health and well-being of the animals, environment and our neighbors.
We work with local governments to make our farms better neighbors. In recent years, we've adopted voluntary guidelines to encourage more space between new chicken houses and neighboring properties and residents, while working with farmers to plant trees and grasses as living buffers next to their chicken houses. We've worked with county officials as they adopted laws to accomplish these goals. Chicken farmers are part of Delmarva's communities and work hard to remain a welcomed segment of the landscape.
Delmarva's farm families are some of most regulated farms in the country. This regulation is accepted by Delmarva's chicken farmers and we have made significant advancements with measurable improvements in farming practices to protect water supplies.

Worker installing a Vegetative Environmental Buffer.

What about added hormones or steroids?

No artificial or added hormones are used in raising chickens anywhere in the United States. In fact, it's been illegal to do so since the 1950s. We realize this can be confusing when you see "hormone-free" on a chicken product label at the grocery store. But, that label must also include a statement that hormones are not used in the production of any poultry. We keep our chickens healthy with proper nutrition, good veterinary care and quality living conditions.

What about antibiotics?

Today, antibiotics are used in chickens and other farm animals for the same reason they are used in people - to treat or prevent disease that causes pain and suffering. When birds are sick with a bacterial infection, we treat them with antibiotics because it is the ethical thing to do.
Government regulations exist to prevent antibiotic residue in meat. The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world. Chicken farmers must adhere to specific antibiotic withdrawal times that have been established to ensure that meat entering the food supply is antibiotic free and safe.
Providing safe, wholesome chicken for consumers begins with providing the birds with a clean, safe growing environment. When birds get sick or are threatened by disease, the ethical use of antibiotics is good for the animals, but also good for people. The healthier the animal, the less likely bacteria enters the food supply. Farmers, companies and others in the Delmarva chicken industry support consumer and production method choice. Our family farms use a variety of production methods - including, for some, no-antibiotics-ever production -- to provide consumers with a choice in the decisions they make for themselves and their families. Finding ways to raise chickens without any antibiotics is the latest example of an industry committed to innovation, producing a wide range of chicken products for a wide range of consumers.

Where does all the chicken manure go?

Chicken manure provides area farmers with a locally-produced, organic, slow-release plant food that enhances soil health, quality and ability to retain moisture. This provides area farmers with chemical fertilizer alternatives and conserves natural resources.
Chicken farms do not simply dump chicken manure, or chicken litter - manure and wood shavings that make up the bedding in a chicken house - into waterways, or haphazardly apply manure to farm fields. Each Delmarva chicken farm is required to provide the state a natural resources protection plan. These plans are unique to each farm to ensure manure is handled in a way that keeps it away from the water supplies that are so important to our communities. In fact, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, agriculture's commitment to responsibility has led to demonstrable reductions in the amount of nitrogen, a common nutrient, in the Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other Bay monitors have recognized and applauded this progress.
Regardless of the size or type of a farm, carefully formulated feed, access to a plentiful supply of clean water and food, adequate room to grow, professional veterinary attention and proper handling are all important factors in raising chickens. Delmarva's poultry farmers are committed to providing excellent care for their birds.