Indiana is becoming known as a great state – if not one of the best – for raising poultry.
The reasons why?
The state’s farmers grow quality grains, which are used as feed.
A science-based regulatory environment respects livestock and poultry operations. And Indiana exhibits a great deal of support for agriculture.
In fact, the state is so supportive of the poultry industry that Midwest Poultry Services looks to Indiana first in times of expansion.
“Indiana is a great state for agriculture,” says Bob Krouse, president and fifth-generation operator of the family-owned company. “We have poultry farms in three different states, and Indiana has such a cooperative environment.”
The overall growth witnessed in the state’s poultry industry indicates that other companies choose the Hoosier State, too.
Yet, Indiana’s bustling poultry industry and its impacts seem a big secret, says Paul Brennan, executive vice president of the Indiana State Poultry Association (ISPA).
“Because of the diversity within the industry, people don’t recognize Indiana as a large poultry state,” he says.
In reality, Indiana ranks No. 3 in both layers and egg production, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Brennan estimates the state ranks in the top seven for turkey production and is currently undergoing expansion. And Indiana remains No. 1 in duck production, as the two largest duck producers in the hemisphere are headquartered in Indiana, he says.
As of 2014, about 800 commercial poultry farms exist in the state, the ISPA reports. The industry provided more than 6,250 direct jobs, $246 million in salaries and an economic impact of $2.4 billion, according to the most recent study available. Since then, the industry’s impact on jobs and revenue has grown significantly in every sector, Brennan says. And it continues to grow.
“There is a lot of growth in the poultry industry in Indiana,” he says. “There is nothing I see immediately stopping it. I expect we’re in a good position here for some time to come.”
Gains through Grains
Feed represents about 65 percent of the cost of an egg, Krouse says. Rather than send the grain to the hens, Indiana layer operations keep the hens near a competitive market for the corn and soybean meal they need to reduce production costs.
“More and more eggs are being produced close to the source of feed and the product is being shipped a longer distance to the final market,” Krouse says.
The operation uses about 500 million pounds of feed annually, and demands about 80,000 acres of corn and soybeans. The family company buys corn from local farmers and elevators, and buys soybean meal from a local processor, Krouse says.
Creighton Brothers LLC, a family-owned egg farm located in Atwood, is another operation prospering from a vertical integration model, growing their own corn and soybeans for feed.
The farm’s feed mill mixes 400 tons of feed each week for their own use, as well as needs for nearby growing and laying farms.
“We still find great benefit from our farms in Kosciusko County with our 10,000 acres of grain, and excellent area farmers in which we can purchase the balance of our corn needs,” says Mindy Truex of Creighton Brothers.
Looking to Indiana First
Midwest Poultry Services dates back to 1875, when the family operated a water-powered grain mill. By 1969, the family changed its focus and entered the egg business with 200,000 birds.
Today, they employ 350 people and average more than 6 million eggs daily from 8.5 million laying hens in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. Of these layers, about 5 million are housed in Indiana.
“People like eggs, and there is going to continue to be a good market for eggs in Indiana because of the production cost and ability to be in animal agriculture and be appreciated,” Krouse says. “It all seems to add together to make Indiana a place to grow in egg production.”