Almost everybody loves chicken. It’s the second-most-popular meat in the world, after pork. There are few cuisines that don’t incorporate it, and it stars in some of the world’s best-known culinary specialties — among them, India’s tandoori chicken, Italy’s pollo alla cacciatore, France’s coq au vin, the chicken stew popular in West African countries, and of course our own fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and chicken wings. (These are the 30 best fried chicken places in America.)
China has the world’s largest chicken population, followed by Indonesia and then the United States — but that includes birds raised for eggs. The U.S. is by far the largest producer of what the industry calls “broiler meat” — chicken to eat — accounting for more than 18 million metric tons of it (almost 40 billion pounds) in 2019. (Brazil is in second place, with China at number three.)
The reigning champion of U.S. chicken production is Arkansas, home to Tyson — the world’s largest poultry producing company — as well as numerous other poultry firms.
Poultry is the state’s most important agricultural segment, providing almost 40% of total agricultural cash receipts and directly employing more than 37,000 people, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s poultry web page.
Interestingly, Arkansas doesn’t even make the top ten for egg-producing states. The top honor in that category goes to Iowa, producing almost twice the quantity that number-two Ohio manages.