How Much Money Does the Average Chicken Farmer Make?

Cavan Images/Cavan/GettyImages

In recent years, chicken farming has become so trendy as to be commonplace. From urban rooftops to suburban backyards to the traditional farms we all think of when we think of broods of chickens. Raising birds has a lot of attractive qualities. You can enjoy eating amazingly fresh eggs every day, a chicken farm is largely self-sustainable and it's a lucrative business. But what is a chicken farmer's salary? How much does a chicken house make in a year?

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest numbers indicates that a chicken farmer’s salary averages about $70,000 per year. This is based on their statistics that say chicken farmers earn a median hourly wage ranging from $16.27 to $57.47, with an average hourly wage of $33.71.

Job Description

Chicken farmers handle the sales and shipping of their wares which are the eggs, the chickens themselves and even feathers to manufacturers, co-ops, farmer’s markets and any other avenue for selling chicken-based products. Training assistants, developing budgets and ordering all necessary supplies is part of the job. As chickens need care every day, year-round, chicken farmers are not known for taking extended vacations so it is a profession to which a person must be very dedicated or have a staff on hand they trust.

Education Requirements

While a formal education isn’t necessary, many people find it helpful to have a degree in agribusiness or animal science. Even a background as a farm manager can be useful. Becoming a profitable chicken farmer takes some research in different methods to raise chickens and different ways to make money based on your area. Finding a nearby commercial chicken farm to contract out their services is one strategy used by independent chicken farmers. It takes a careful balance of knowing how much of their flock to keep or process and knowing how many eggs should be allowed to become chickens. Poultry is susceptible to diseases that can cease egg production or kill the flock altogether. The close living quarters of hen houses make it hard to contain any disease, for example, when one chicken gets sick it is a matter of hours before it spreads to the rest of the flock.

So if you want to become an independent chicken farmer how do you find out if your area even allows it? Research city ordinances and follow them strictly. Many cities are very particular about how far the henhouses must be from the property line, the number of chickens and houses allowed, whether you need a permit, if your hen houses need inspections and whether you can keep a rooster. If you’ve ever been awoken by a rooster you know why this could be a sore point. Not every one of your neighbors would enjoy your rooster's cock-a-doodle-do! Keep a copy of your city’s zoning laws on hand to help you with visits from government officials or the aforementioned neighbors.


What are commercial chicken house profits? American commercial chicken company Tyson Foods made nearly $42 billion in 2015. Their strategy is to contract poultry farmers as well as raising their own chickens in their plants. Their ability to afford the expensive machinery and tremendous upkeep offsets their overhead to allow for a generous profit.

Years of Experience

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest numbers indicates that a chicken farmer’s salary averages about $70,000 per year. This is based on their statistics that say chicken farmers earn a median hourly wage ranging from $16.27 to $57.47, with an average hourly wage of $33.71. Ultimately, the amount a chicken farmer makes isn’t based on years of experience but is dependent on how many chickens and houses they have and the demand in their area for them and if they are under contract with a large distributor.

Job Growth Trend

The United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service shows that most of the money to be made in poultry is made by commercial farms and not independent producers. In 2001, another study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the National Contract Poultry Growers Association found that 71 percent of chicken farmers who made their living exclusively through their broods lived below the poverty line. However, as new practices and means of raising chickens is discovered and the popularity rises there may be a sustainable rise in chicken house income.

“And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God,” wrote Sherman Alexie in "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." Americans eat more chicken per year than any other country, to the tune of a $90 billion-a-year industry. Maybe it’s time to get your piece of that chicken pot pie?


About the Author

Nicky is a business writer with nearly two decades of hands-on and publishing experience. She's been published in several business publications, including The Employment Times and Business Idea Factory. She also studied business in college.