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Chickens Statistics

Chicken statistics

Summary

  • People kill at least 40 billion chickens annually worldwide (Table 1).

  • Three countries produce over half the world's broilers: the US, China and Brazil (Table 2).

  • The number of broilers is increasing by about a billion a year (Table 2).

People kill at least 40 billion chickens annually

Chick

Types & Numbers of Chicken

The four categories of commercial chicken are:

  • Broiler (to eat)

  • Egg-layer (to lay eggs)

  • Breeder (males and females who breed the broilers and egg-layers)

  • Male chicks in the egg-laying industry (killed at hatching)

  • Broilers (males and females) are slaughtered after a few weeks of life. Egg-layers are slaughtered after a year of egg-laying. In the egg-laying industry a male chick hatches for every female chick and because they cannot lay eggs they are killed soon after hatching. These dead chicks are sold as fertiliser and pet food.

Table 1. Breakdown of Chicken Numbers Worldwide
Broilers 30 billion (see Table 2)
Egg-layers 5 billion (see Table 3)
Breeders Several millions (60 million in the US alone)
Male chicks in the egg-laying industry 5 billion
World Total At least 40 billion

For sources and notes for these figures see below: Notes for Table 2 & Notes for Table 3.



Chick

Number of Broilers Produced Annually Worldwide

About 30 billion broilers are alive in any one year. Three countries produce over half of them (60 percent): US, China and Brazil. Worldwide the number of broilers is increasing by about a billion per year.

Table 2. Number of Broilers Produced Annually.
Top ten countries & Worldwide for years 2003 to 2008.
Figures are in billions.
  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
United States 7.4 7.6 7.9 8.0 8.0 8.3
China 5.0 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.4 5.7
Brazil 3.8 4.2 4.7 4.7 5.1 5.3
European Union (27 states) 4.0 3.9 4.1 3.9 4.0 4.0
Mexico 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.4
India 0.8 0.8 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.2
Russian Federation 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.6 0.7 0.8
Argentina 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.7
Japan 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6
Thailand 0.7 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.6
Others 3.6 3.6 3.8 3.8 4.0 3.7
World Total 27.4 28.2 29.8 30.3 31.5 32.2

For the source and notes for these figures see below: Notes for Table 2.



Chick

Number of Egg-laying Hens Worldwide

There are five billion egg-laying hens worldwide. China produces most egg-laying hens (one in five) and the US is the second largest producer.

Table 3. Number of Egg-laying Hens Worldwide.
The top five egg production countries and Worldwide, 2002.
Countries Number of Hens
China 1,000,000,000
USA 276,000,000
Japan 152,000,000
India 133,000,000
Mexico 115,000,000
World Total 5,000,000,000

For the source and notes for these figures see below: Notes for Table 3.



Egg-layers produced 53 million tonnes of eggs in 2002 (The World Egg Industry - a few facts and figures. International Egg Commission).

Wild hens lay up to about 30 eggs each per year. But the chicken industry breeds and manipulates egg-laying hens to lay about 300 eggs each a year. The hens become exhausted, go for slaughter after one year and a new annual cycle begins with replacement hens. Exhausted egg-laying hens end up in pet food and cheap pies.


Chick

Notes

A precise count of the number of chickens worldwide is impossible. Therefore figures in these tables are rounded to avoid spurious accuracy and totals do not necessarily add up.

Notes for Table 2
The source for the figures in Table 2 is Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade. United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of Global Analysis. Circular Series DL&P 2-07 November 2007. www.fas.usda.gov. (Web site accessed February 2008.)

Note that figures are in billions. Thus the total number of broilers produced for 2007 was about 32 billion.

The original United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data included only countries that are the major animal producers. Therefore the World Total in Table 2 is a minimum figure. USDA figures for 2007 are preliminary and for 2008 an estimate.

The original data from the USDA were in tonnes of ready to cook chickens, that is chickens minus heads, feet and internal organs. The live slaughter weight of US broilers, according to USDA information, averages around 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs); therefore ready to cook weight will be about 2 kg (4.4 lbs). Assuming US broilers are among the heaviest in the world, an average of 2 kg per broiler worldwide was used to generate the figures in Table 2 and these figures may therefore give a conservative estimate of broiler numbers.

USDA say they base their data on "USDA-FAS attaché reports, official statistics, and results of office research".

Notes for Table 3
The sources for Table 3 are The World Egg Industry - a few facts and figures. International Egg Commission. (Web site accessed February 2008.) The figure for Japan (for 2001) is from Hens & Eggs, Vegan Society, (web site accessed February 2008), citing Statement on the Welfare of Laying Hens , 2001. International Egg Commission.

What is killing billions of chickens annually?

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Page revised Nov 2010.
Web site established Nov 2009.